By Kara Franker
Explore Miami’s coastline via SUP.
Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is not only a great workout, it’s also a scenic way to explore Miami’s coastline. The sport first took off in the United States in 2004 and experts say paddleboarding dates back to ancient Peruvian, Hawaiian and African cultures. For many in Miami, it’s become a way of life.
Resembling surfboards but thicker, paddleboards come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re a beginner, it’s usually better to choose a wider and longer board for more stability. As you balance on the board, you use a single paddle to sweep your board across the surface of the water. It’s also important to note for safety reasons that the U.S. Coast Guard requires that paddleboarders carry life vests.
In Miami, there are a variety of shops that rent out stand up paddleboards and windsurfing equipment. One of the most popular places to SUP is Virginia Key and Key Biscayne. The calm and clear waters of Biscayne Bay make for a perfect place to enjoy a day at sea.
Head to Sailboards Miami, which is located on the Rickenbacker Causeway at Mile Marker 6.5, to rent stand up paddleboards right on the beach. They have various boards to choose from, including 12-foot long boards for beginners. Sailboards Miami also offers one-on-one instruction from an experienced paddleboarder. Boards are available for $25 per hour. Some come with sails for windy days and there are rentals available for windsurfers as well. Call 305-892-8992 or just show up and start SUP-ing. Sailboards Miami is open Friday through Tuesday (closed Wednesday and Thursday) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Another great place to get out on the water is the Virginia Key Outdoor Center, located at Virginia Key Beach North Point Park (3801 Rickenbacker Causeway). The shop offers two types of boards: rotomolded ($25 per hour) and epoxy ($30 per hour), as well as instruction for beginners. They also offer discounts if you rent for two-hours, four-hours or a full day. Contact the Virginia Key Outdoor Center at 786-224-4777. They are open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
For a whole new stand up paddleboarding experience, head out on a full moon paddle with lights on your board. Or venture out on a bioluminescent new moon paddle where you can see little glow-in-the-dark plankton. Usually, viewing is best June through September. Trips are organized by the Virginia Key Outdoor Center.
The more experienced paddleoarder might want to test their skills at the Windhaven Insurance Orange Bowl Paddle Championship. This annual event takes place at the Miami Marine Stadium flexpark on Key Biscayne during the first week of May. The race features events for all levels including elite, recreational, corporate, sprint and a kids clinic. For more information visit www.Orangebowl.org.
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