Hawaii Stand-Up Paddleboarding Rides Wave of Popularity

Stand-up paddleboarding lessons and itineraries in Hawaii increase as the sport becomes more popular By: Marty Wentzel
Stand-up paddleboarding lessons and itineraries are cropping up throughout Hawaii. // © 2012 Maui Sports Unlimited
Stand-up paddleboarding lessons and itineraries are cropping up throughout Hawaii. // © 2012 Maui Sports Unlimited


While Hawaii stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is all the rage these days, its roots trace back more than 50 years.

In the 1960s, Waikiki’s famed beach boys stood up on their surfboards and propelled themselves with long outrigger canoeing paddles so they could keep a better eye on visitors in the ocean and take pictures of tourists. The pastime soon turned into a sport and, eventually, it was added to surfing contests.

Today, SUP is making a splash among visitors seeking an accessible new aquatic experience. Known for giving participants a great core workout, it has a broad appeal because it’s relatively easy for all ages to learn. Around the islands, ocean activity companies in nearly every visitor hub have added it to their list of options, making it hard to resist. 

Following are just a few of the Hawaii firms that help clients try SUP, a fast-growing sport at once old and new.


Haleiwa Surf n’ Sea
Located on Oahu’s North Shore, this company helps clients paddle in easy-to-navigate flat waters as well as ride the ocean waves. 

Nancy Emerson School of Surfing
Emerson, an international surfing pro, takes people on SUP adventures, complete with sea life explorations and lunch. 

Rainbow Watersports Adventures
A four-hour tour along the north and windward coasts includes breaks for swimming, snorkeling and lunch.


Maria Souza's Stand-Up Paddle Boarding School
Extreme water woman Souza shares her SUP expertise on Maui’s southern shore

Maui Sports Unlimited
Beginners practice in Kihei’s calm waters, with advanced classes on the North Shore, conditions permitting


Kayak Kauai
The Hanalei River is the perfect starting point for North Shore SUP, after which the lesson moves to the more challenging Hanalei Bay 

Try Kauai
The half-day tour starts with SUP paddling two miles downstream followed by a hike, swim, water zipline and canoe ride back to the start

Hawaii Island (Big Island)

Big Island SUP Adventures
This Hilo-based firm offers introductory SUP lessons on the Wailoa River and runs experienced tours in the open ocean

Kona Boys
Laid-back Kona watermen and women offer SUP lessons in calm Kamakahonu Bay and more challenging spots as skills progress.

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