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Hawaii was full of many firsts for me. First time skydiving, first time surfing, first time ATV riding, and so many more. While I loved all of those activities, there was one that stuck out to me as a true life-changer, a new passion that I’m confident will follow me around the globe — Stand Up Paddling, or SUP for short.

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Hawaii is the birthplace of Stand Up Paddling, where lifeguards once used outrigger paddles on regular surfboards to patrol the seas from a better vantage point. But in the past ten years, the sport has begun to explode among water lovers, fitness enthusiasts and surfers alike. Today, there are international paddleboarding competitions, paddleboarding retreats, and entire business dedicated simply to promoting the sport of Stand Up Paddleboarding.

Cruising around the North Coast for the final time, Angie and Alex and I made a stop at Hanalei Bay — perhaps one of the most beautiful places I have ever laid eyes on. We intended on renting surfboards, but a Stand Up Paddle stand enticed us otherwise. Without any formal training, we rented two boards between the three of us (because, you know, general poorness) and giggling with nerves, paddled on our knees out to the Bay.

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

After a few entertaining false starts (see above), pretty soon we were standing like big girls! Moving from kneeling to standing was definitely the most balance-tricky part, but once that was through it was smooth sailing. I could immediately see why the sport was so popular — it was a great low-impact core workout, we were surrounded by stunning scenery, and with the crystal water below we were practically Stand Up Snorkeling — we even saw a turtle swim beneath our boards! I could picture myself moving to Kauai and starting every morning with a paddle across the bay.

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Hanalei Bay is filled with water-sports enthusiasts of every variety — boaters, surfers, SUPers, kayakers, and more. At one point, Angie turned to me and said excitedly, “That’s Laird Hamilton!” At the time, I was not sufficiently impressed, considering I had no idea who Laird Hamilton was. But suffice it to say that once I got myself to a Wikipedia-enabled device, I was very humbled to have paddled in the same waters as one of the greatest surfers of all time — according to the internets.

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Getting the hang of the logistics of paddling took up most of our rental hour, but we did have some extra time to do what we all just happen to do best: goofing around.Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

I couldn’t believe how quickly our time was up! Without question, this was the highlight of my trip to Kauai. My only regret is that it took me until my last day in Hawaii to try it. The sun on my back, the sea at my feet, getting a great workout and a tan at the same time — I think I found my sport.

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Soon I’d be in Florida, taking a Stand Up Paddling 101 lesson and trying Stand Up Paddle Yoga! But first it was time to say goodbye to Hawaii.Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

It’s no secret that Hawaii had a massive impact on me (in fact, you guys might be getting sick of reading about it by now!) Hawaii revived me — reminded me of my love of travel, my love of adventure, my love of life. But most of all it reminded me of the goodness of people, and the importance of friendships both new and old.

‘A ‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia.
No task is too big when done together by all.

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

Stand Up Paddling Kauai

And with that, I said my final aloha to the great state of Hawaii. My heart was heavy, but one thing kept it light: I know that I will be back here again someday.

Thank you all so much for reliving my Hawaii travels along with me. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about them as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Congratulations to the ever-fabulous Travel Blog Success course, which just received a major facelift! This is the online course that helped me make Alex in Wanderland what it is today, and the first thing I recommend to those who write to me for advice. It changed the way I looked at travel blogging and helped me move it from a hobby to a business. The member’s group gives me daily inspiration, feedback, and assistance. This is truly the warmest community in travel blogging, and it’s on sale now! Click here and use the code “tbs35″ to get a premium membership at 35% off, a $65-95 savings! Sale ends at 11:59 PM today.

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26 Comments...
  • Nadia
    January 25 2013

    I love SUP too. While on the west coast of PR, a young dolphin took interest in me and my board and played with me for over an hour. It was incredible. He swam under my board and would splash me a little and I would splash him back with the paddle. Curiously enough, some of my animal experiences have been far better on a board than under the water….maybe its the bubbles.

    • Alex
      January 26 2013

      Have you seen the video floating around the internet right now of the dolphin allowing the dive instructor to cut it free from a fishing line at the manta ray dive site in Hawaii? They are such incredibly intelligent creatures!

  • Olivia
    January 25 2013

    Looks so fun!!

    • Alex
      January 26 2013

      It was a blast! Post coming up next week about trying it in Tampa…

  • Shaun
    January 25 2013

    Can’t say I’ve tried SUP, but paddling anything is a great workout!

    I’m sad to see Hawaii leave this blog too!… so where’s next? 😛

    • Alex
      January 26 2013

      A little trip to Florida, then onto Southeast Asia!

  • Helen
    January 25 2013

    first – great photos
    second – now all I want is to try stand up paddling!
    Helen recently posted..Guess where’s next?!

    • Alex
      January 26 2013

      Then my work here is done 😛

  • Julie
    January 25 2013

    I feel like I need to go watch Lilo and Stitch now. You look fabulous and so happy! Glad you found your shot of life in Hawaii!
    Julie recently posted..Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee!

    • Alex
      January 26 2013

      I have a whole long list of Hawaii movies I still want to watch! I’ll need to add that one to the list…

  • Krista C.
    January 25 2013

    What an awesome day and trip you had! I’m jealous you saw Laird, he is a true waterman of Hawaii. Hanalei Bay is gorgeous, it has been too long since I have bee to Hawaii, that will be rectified soon enough. All your Hawaii posts have gotten me so excited!

    • Alex
      January 26 2013

      Krista I’m so glad to hear that! I hope I get to return to Hawaii soon as well. Love love love that place.

  • What a way to end your trip!!! How much fun! You girls look like models.
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Asheville, North Carolina: Biltmore Estate In Photos (Part 2)

    • Alex
      January 26 2013

      Wouldn’t that be a career…. Stand Up Paddle model 🙂 I’m all over it!

  • Pauline
    January 26 2013

    That looks like a lot of fun! I have never tried it before but would probably enjoy it a great deal. Nice blog!
    Pauline recently posted..Friday recap, the city life and a root canal

    • Alex
      January 27 2013

      Thanks Pauline… give it a try someday!

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
    January 26 2013

    Looks so fun!! SUP is huge in both my homes of Vancouver and Roatan, but I am sad to say I haven’t tried it yet. This was a good kick in the butt! When I was diving in Cozumel in December we saw cruise shippers go by with a SUP company… my boat captain kept yelling, “Stand up ladies!! STAND UP!” at them…. I can imagine it’s trickier than it looks!
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted.."Home"-sick.

    • Alex
      January 27 2013

      I don’t remember it being in Roatan way back when I was there… but I guess it wasn’t really a “thing” yet! I would absolutely love to do it there… it’s kind of like stand up snorkeling too!

  • Diane
    January 27 2013

    Wow, that looks like so much fun. And I’m all for having fun while working out. I will absolutely give it a try if I’m ever in a place where I can rent the surfboard. Not sure I’ll make it to Hawaii any time soon, but I can dream!
    Diane recently posted..Teaching in France: When you call a boy a girl and other mortifying moments – Part 1

    • Alex
      January 27 2013

      Hawaii may be the birthplace, but I’m shocked by how many places I see it popping up these days…. it’s really on fire right now!

  • Amanda @ Farsickness
    January 27 2013

    I’ve really enjoyed reading about your Hawaiian travels. I never really had a desire to visit Hawaii (not sure why…), but I think I’m now going to make a stop there on my way home from Asia.

    Also, I was just thinking about trying stand up paddle boarding the other day. Will have to add it to the list 🙂
    Amanda @ Farsickness recently posted..Ann Arbor: The Greatest Little City in the World

    • Alex
      January 27 2013

      Amanda that’s amazing! What islands are you thinking of visiting? You definitely won’t regret it!

  • Jenna
    January 29 2013

    Sounds like it was a blast! I’ve been wanting to try SUP for awhile and finally got to this past weekend–it was great! Looking forward to hearing about how it went for you in Tampa!
    Jenna recently posted..Hanging Shoes Above Urban Streets

    • Alex
      January 30 2013

      Post coming up next week 🙂 It was such a fantastic time!

  • 2 tickets to Wonderland
    January 15 2015

    We’ve tried supping for the first time this summer in Greece and I loved it. It’s a great sport. And if you get hot in the sun working out, you can jump in the water to cool down whenever you want 🙂
    2 tickets to Wonderland recently posted..The one and only: Santorini

    • Alex
      January 18 2015

      Yup, that’s the best part 🙂 Tan and beach hair come with the toning!

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