It looks a little strange at first. You see a guy standing on a surfboard holding a canoe paddle and cruising along as if he were on a raft on a lake or calm river.

He’s SUPing. While Stand Up Paddle boarding is considered an “emerging” sport worldwide, it’s origin is strictly Hawaiian and it can be traced back to the days when surfing instructors used the technique to manage large groups of learner surfers. Standing on the board gave them a higher point of view that made it easier for them to see what was going on around them — such as an incoming swell.

Recently, it has become an alternative way to ride surf and as a means of staying in shape, and it’s gaining popularity as the demands for global-conscious green sports increase.

Pure surfers have converted because of the versatility of the new sport. Stand up paddle boarding offers a better view of incoming sets and gives surfers the ability to catch more waves in a set.

A custom SUP board costs from $900 to $1500 new. The boards are usually between nine and 12 feet in length. Some come with special features such as padded decks, concave hulls, and surfboard-style fins in the stern for stability.

Beach-service concessions on Waikiki Beach and in the busy beach areas on some neighbor islands now offer stand up paddle lessons and rent the equipment. If you’re a beginning surfer, by all means take lessons. You’ll begin with a land lesson where your instructor goes over safety tips, balance, positioning, turning, and the equipment and how to properly use it. After the land lesson, you’ll be escorted into the water and your instructor will help you with paddling techniques in the water.

It’s really a lot of fun, and it’ll give you something neat to talk about when you return home from your Hawaii vacation.

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