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Stand Up Paddling for Valentines

11 February 2013

Whenever my husband and I are at the beach (or river), we often see people glide past us on these funny looking stand up paddle boards. We see them paddling slowly, over the calm, still waters… looking so peaceful and satisfied. And we are always filled with a bursting desire to try it ourselves!

So to celebrate an early Valentine’s Day, I surprised my husband with an experience, courtesy of Red Balloon.

Yes, we went Stand Up Paddle Boarding together!

Ain’t we romantic? :P

Stand Up Paddling for Valentines

A good Stand Up Paddling Boarding experience depends solely on the wind.

(If you’re really cool you can call it SUP boarding, but we’re not that cool, as it turns out.)

We booked for a 9am session, but the location of the paddling could only be confirmed the night before. This is so that the boarding people can look at the weather forecast and find the best spot out of the wind.

We turned up at 8:45am, in Rockingham, and we met the crew and other participants. The weather was beautiful. The water was flat, and there was a gentle breeze.

Now my husband and I are scuba divers, and we’ve been on 7-day scuba diving camping trips, roughing it out in tents, on the coast, or living on a fishing boat for 5 days. So our brains are programmed with safety protocols, dressing for the weather, and being sun and water smart.

And today? We may have over-did ourselves.

It was 39C and we turned up in long sleeve, turtleneck rashies, hats, sunglasses and long shorts.

Everyone else were in their bathers. Girls were in their itsy bitsy, floral bikini tops and bottoms, and guys with rippling muscles were in trendy shorts and were completely topless. I felt like such a nana.

In fact, I needed to carry my waterproof camera during the paddling. So I actually wore my cycling jersey (which had zip pockets) with my cycling arm sleeves! I really felt like a freak! Oh well. I’m sure my skin loved me for covering up.

Stand Up Paddling for Valentines

The briefing was great. Luca, our guide, gave us paddles and boards that suited out height… and he gave us lots of good tips.

I was a bit nervous. I’ve never been surfing before. I’m not great with boards and waves.

I was told that I might lose my hat and sunglasses if I fell into the water. Ugh, so I started to get worried about losing my sunglasses. SO THAT’S why no one else was wearing their sunglasses!

When it was time to start, we carried our boards into the water. And even I could lift the board by myself!

We waded about knee-deep into the water, and then crawled onto the boards on our hands and knees. When we felt steady, we stood up.

Stand Up Paddling for Valentines

It was pretty easy to stand on!

The boards were so wide that it was easy to find balance. The water was calm too, so the boards were not wobbly or shaky.

My husband, who, in my opinion, is not as *talented in coordination* as myself… found it to be very easy too.

I noticed there was another young lady in the group who was very, very unsure about her balance. She took a long time to steady her feet, stand up and balance herself. But when she did, she was fine.

After we all stood up, we had to start paddling.

It took me a few minutes to get used to the paddling arm motion.

I felt very uncoordinated at first. Concentrating on standing + balancing + paddling was a bit tricky. So I was doing very “weak” paddling, as if I was sweeping rice around on the floor haha.

Stand Up Paddling for Valentines

But once I got used to it, it was fuuuuun!

My paddling technique improved quickly. I began to paddle a little faster and became a lot more in-control of the board.

Oh my, it was so peaceful and soothing. It felt like we were gliding. Or strolling over water.

My husband and I were paddling side by side, laughing and chatting about romantic things like, um sharks.

Just kidding! We didn’t see much marine life. Just pelicans and a stingray.

Stand Up Paddling for Valentines

Haha I look so content and relaxed here!

We were paddling WITH a gentle wind behind us, so it was quite effortless. We could really just stand up on the board and use our bodies as sails to push us along.

Near the end of the session, we parked at a little beach, and our guide asked us to paddle back a bit, INTO the wind. He showed us how to activate our core muscles and use our shoulders to paddle hard. I tried it for a good 5 minutes and I could feel my abs getting a good workout. It felt goooood, a bit like rowing.

And… we didn’t fall into the water!

No one in our group fell into the water. Even the young lady who had trouble with her balance in the beginning.

The whole experience took about 1 hour (might have been 1 hour and 20 minutes).

Overall we had such a great time!

It wasn’t an overly strenuous activity, that we needed to lie down and take a nap after.

It was *just* active enough, *just* new and unusual enough – for a couple to share a new experience :)

I recommend it for couples, as a fun date to do together, or a simple and enjoyable anniversary or birthday present to give to someone, or to do it with your mum or dad on a Sunday morning, or just by yourself to try it out!

Stand Up Paddling for Valentines

And after the paddling we drove off to a beachside café to enjoy a hot breakfast and a cup if tea.

Such a lovely morning!

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The team at Red Balloon are offering my readers a special promotion!

Receive $30 off when you spend $129 or more on ANY experience.

To redeem: Visit www.redballoon.com.au and enter the promotional code REDKC13 at the checkout to receive your discount.

Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until 31/12/13. Promotional Code can only be used once per person. All purchases are subject to RedBalloon T&Cs, for full details read here.