Beginner's Guide to Stand-Up Paddleboarding on Puget Sound

Take a stand to experience the Northwest in a whole new way
Give it a try: A calm day on Puget Sound can be a good place to try stand-up paddleboarding

This article is part of the cover story for the August 2018 issue. Find more from the story hereClick here to subscribe.

If you’ve ever walked along the shore and seen, in the distance, what looks like someone standing on the water, look a little closer. It’s likely they have a paddle in hand and a board underfoot.

Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP as the sport is known, has grown in popularity in recent years for many reasons, but experts point first to its accessibility. “It’s an inclusive sport and a minimalist’s dream,” says Amanda Lee, an instructor at Alki Kayak Tours. “A lot of other water sports can become gear-intensive and costly. All you need is a board [for stand-up paddleboarding] and a paddle to head out and explore.”

If you haven’t yet tried this sport, don’t worry, you’re not late to the party. Follow these tips from Lee and you’ll be standing on water in no time, too.

Take a lesson. By getting instructions from a pro, you’ll quickly build confidence and be ready to head out on your own. Learning from an expert will also give you insight into the best places to paddle in the area and when it’s safe to head out.

Dress for Success. Wearing the right clothing is crucial when paddleboarding, especially here in the Northwest. A wet suit or dry suit will be helpful for beginners, since it’s easy to become overwhelmed if you fall into the water (and you probably will). Lakes in the area will be warm in the summer, so extra layers may not be necessary for those bodies of water, but Puget Sound is chilly year-round and local rivers may be, too.

Stay Safe. Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD), even if you’re a good swimmer.

Stay Close to Shore. Be mindful of where you are on the water and try not to drift far from shore. If you’re on the Sound or paddling down a river, be aware of the current and where it is headed.

Check the Weather. Even if it’s a nice day, be sure to know the wind forecast for the day. Any wind under 7 mph will make for calm conditions on the water.


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