Join in the SUP Craze
If you live near, or have visited, a body of water you have probably seen people paddle boarding. Over the last few years, Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) has become extremely popular. It is very easy to do, requires just a little equipment, and provides a great whole-body workout.
If you haven’t tried it yet, or even if you are an experienced pro, paddling in Puerto Rico is a great vacation activity that the whole family can enjoy.
We recently tried it in Condado and really enjoyed it. It was more peaceful and easy than I thought it would be, and I can see why it is the newest water-sport craze!
SUP has its roots in Hawaii, but has fast taken over the planet as “the” thing to do. The name pretty much describes the activity … you stand up on a board and paddle.
Once you got the hang of it, there is almost no limit as to what you can do out on the water with your board and paddle — surfing, yoga, and fishing are just a few options. But mainly, you just enjoy the scenery and your time on the water.
People may find it amusing that I was a bit nervous to try this. I just didn’t think I was coordinated enough to be able to stand up on a board in the water and paddle around. But we finally bit the bullet and gave it a try. And, honestly, it was a piece of cake!
( We used a company that is no longer in business, but many others are available that offer the same services). We found our company at their “office” in the shade under a tree beside the Condado Lagoon. They have a van full of paddleboards ready to go, and a sign-up table right at the water’s edge. They also have a secure place where we stored our dry “stuff” (shoes, keys, towel, etc).
After we signed the usual release forms, they asked us about our experience with swimming, surfing, paddleboarding and other “paddle” sports (like kayaking and canoeing). That helped him gauge our experience level for SUP, and our comfort level on the water. He measured our arms’ reach (to give us the correct sized paddles), and he got our paddleboards.
It wasn’t until after we finished, when I was feeling all good about myself and my ability to do so well, that he told us that our boards were beginner’s boards that are huge (12 feet long by 2½ feet wide) and very stable — almost impossible to fall off of. As you advance, they make smaller, thinner boards — which they also have available.
Anyway, after setting us up with our equipment, he gave us a quick, land-based demonstration on how to do SUP. It is a bit different than kayak/canoe paddling since you use your core muscles more than your arms. He answered our remaining questions, and pointed out the best route for our trip.
The day we went was a bit windy, so our route would be to go east along the water’s edge (where the birds, iguanas, and star fish hang out among the mangroves) and then back around the other side of the lagoon. If we were up to it, we had the option to go under Dos Hermanos bridge to the other lagoon area next to the Condado Plaza Hilton Hotel and Playita de Condado beach.
So off we went into the lagoon. Following the instructions, we started off paddling while kneeling on the board. Once we had some confidence, we tried standing up slowly while paddling. And it worked!
At first I was worried I wasn’t doing it “right”, but after a few minutes I decided to stop worrying about my form and just enjoy myself. Once I did that, everything fell into place. I really started to get moving. I got the feel of the water, waves, wind and the changes as we moved around the lagoon. It really can be a great whole body workout if you did it enough because you end up using leg, arm and core muscles without really even noticing it.
We enjoyed the scenery and the peacefulness of the water. You really kind of loose yourself in the experience. We did end up going under the bridge, but the wind was pretty strong on that area, so we came back (paddling in a kneeling position to reduce wind resistance). The knee paddling was fun too! Neither of us fell in at all. It took us about 1 hour to go around the lagoon once, and we could have kept going without any problem.
The Condado lagoon’s location is really great, and easy to get to. It is in the San Juan metro area, close to major hotels, and not too far from the cruise ships. The Condado Lagoon is great for beginners since the water is generally flat and the wind is usually low. It offers some beautiful views to both the Condado “city”, mangroves growing around the lagoon, and the Atlantic Ocean.
You might get lucky enough to see some “big” animals like manatees, dolphins, turtles, stringrays, or tarpon. The water is warm all year round, just in case you take an unexpected dip in the water. There is always the possibility of that happening, so the have personal flotation devices (PFDs, i.e. lifejackets) available as an option if it would make you more comfortable.
The Condado Lagoon is a nature reserve, so there are no restrooms on the premises. But you can use the facilities at the Conrad Condado Plaza Hotel just across the street.
SUP has become very popular here in Puerto Rico, so you will find a number of other companies that rent boards or do tours all over the island, and even on Vieques and Culebra.
Anyone can do it. There are no real restrictions. The is a minimum age restriction and probably a weight limit.
You may fall into the water, so being able to swim is a helpful skill, but PFDs are available. No matter what, you are attached to the floating board (via a bungy cord hooked to your ankle), so that helps!. SUP requires some balance, and the ability to move from a kneeling to a standing position. It is a great multi-generational activity that is fun and easy for the whole family.
Condado Lagoon Board Rentals — 1-hour board rentals usually go for about $20-$25/person. Reservations are recommended in general especially on the weekends. Many also have kayaks.
Guided Tours — a few companies will offer guided tours or longer term board rentals, smaller boards for experienced SUP-ers, roof racks to transport rental boards, and/or delivery. Check the websites for more info.
Most companies rent boards in the Condado Lagoon from 9am-6pm or so. There is even now a Night Kayak company that offers “glowing” paddleboards and Kayaks for a tour around the bay!.
Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and a waterproof camera. A rash guard (or long sleeve shirt) will provide additional sun protection. Drinking water would be good to have, too .
Allow an hour or 2, so that you don’t feel rushed.
VIP is located at 890 Ashford Avenue in Condado, at the east end of Dos Hermanos Bridge, and across the street from the Condado Plaza Hilton Hotel. You can park in the Condado Plaza Hilton Hotel parking deck (for a fee). San Juan Paddleboarding is located on the lagoon on the Baldo (rt 26) side at the Parque Jaime Benitez. Condado Kayak Rental company is on the Northeast end of the lagoon, on 18 Calle Marseilles. SUP Action Paddleboard Company is located at the San Juan Bay Marina (by Sizzlers).
Click on a placename below to view the location on Google Maps ...
PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it!