How to Paddleboard - Turks and Caicos

Stand up paddleboarding, SUP tours and kiteboarding are perhaps the things the Big Blue Collective is best known for. If you’re looking for fantastic ways to tone up a little, enjoy the water and have fun while you’re doing it, they’re also two of the very best sports you could ever consider. While kiteboarding is pretty well known, you might not have come across stand up paddle boarding yet- so here’s everything you need to know about this fascinating sport.

Stand up paddleboarding- the basics

Want a great core workout that’s slow, contemplative and lets you see the most beautiful sights in the world? Then stand up paddleboarding (SUP to the pros) is perfect for you. It’s a full-body workout that targets the abs and gives you a unique view of the world. You will, indeed, be standing up on the paddleboard as you skim the surface of the water. You’ll be able to see the horizon and down into the water, both at once. The crystal blue water of the Turks and Caicos means you will see tropical flush and even stingrays flitting around you on your SUP tour. There’s possibly no better place on earth to learn stand up paddleboarding!

What gear does SUP use?

SUP isn’t too involved in the gear department, and SUP rentals are common when you are learning. You most important piece of kit, of course, is the stand-up paddle board. Your weight and skill will affect what board suits you best. There’s everything from recreational boards to racing and yoga boards available! You’ll pair it with a paddle, which looks something like a long canoe paddle. Your paddle needs to be the right length for you, and should reach your wrist if you place it in front of you and put your arms overhead.

In some territories, you will also need to carry a PFD, or personal flotation device. That’s because SUP boards are classified as vessels in some systems. That means if you’re outside of a swim or surf area, you’ll need one on board. It’s mandatory for kids, too. We believe that safety should always come first, so feel free to add a whistle and a light to the bag in case you hit a sticky situation. 

If you’re new to the sport, or would rather not travel with yours, you can rent your gear from the Big Blue Collective during your stay on the island. All of our SUP rentals are fully approved and well maintained.

What should I wear for stand up paddleboarding?

Stand up paddleboarding is a water sport at heart, even though you don’t ideally want to get wet while you’re paddling! You’re going to be hopping on and off the board, exploring and having fun. So dress for a (safe) day in and on the water. As the Turks and Caicos are generally very hot, you’ll probably want a comfy combination of swimsuit, board shorts and sun protection from a rash guard. Skip the pretty bikini and save it for beach day- between exposure to the sun, the mechanics of the board, movement of your body, and the paddle, you’ll be better off with a full piece suit so you feel totally comfortable. Cold climate SUPers will use a wetsuit or drysuit to make sure they stay toasty.

More sport-specific, you will tether to your SUP with a leash. This stops it floating away if you take a tumble off the board, or just get excited by the scenery and forget about it. You get specific leashes for surf, flatwater and rivers, and it’s actually a very important part of your safety kit, so take the time to get the right one.

Lastly, make sure to bring a reef-safe, biodegradable sunscreen. Water reflects UV rays, so you can burn pretty badly even on a mild day. Better safe than sorry! Sunglasses and sun-protective clothing should be in your kit too. 

How easy is stand up paddleboarding?

As watersports go, pretty easy! Don’t be put off by an image of bronzed bodies sculling the water. It’s one of the most accessible adventure water sports there is. There’s over 1.5 million SUPers out there in the world, and the sport is growing daily. It’s a great way to stay functionally fit, burning calories and strengthening muscles while keeping your mind and body fit and entertained. You’ll use almost every muscle group, practice your balance, and have some of the best memories of your life. There’s literally no lose!

Obviously, this means some functional fitness is needed to get into the sport. All that really means is you should be comfortable in the water and reasonably fit enough for some exertion. This is a sport that relies pretty heavily on balance, so be sure to mention to your instructor if you have an inner-ear issue or any other problems that could affect balance. 

What’s the most important thing I will have to learn?

The paddle is probably the most important aspect of SUP. We instinctively want to hold the paddle backward, but you will learn the correct position from your instructor- hands not too close together, and with a forward angle to your blade. Your stance will be a comfortable wide one, with feet parallel and hip-width apart. You’ll know you are close to mastering the sport when the paddle feels like an extension of your arms. Your core, not your arms, will drive you forward.

Don’t stress too much about this when you take your first lesson, however! It’s pretty natural, and once you get used to the board you’ll find the confidence and ease-of-use developing.

Stand up paddle boarding in the Turks and Caicos is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. Keen to get started? Why not get in touch with the Big Blue Collective today, and take your first step to join this growing sport.