If you’ve ever been stand up paddle boarding, you know how fun (and addictive!) the sport can be.
So, where did the hobby originate? Well, it’s best to think of SUP as an evolution rather than an invention.
The SUP Debate
There’s some debate as to where SUP got its start. The truth is, standing on some sort of vessel and maneuvering through water with a pole or paddle likely began thousands of years ago.
It’s believed that many cultures used SUP as a form of travel or to catch the evening meal.
According to some history buffs, Peruvian ﬁsherman stood and paddled on vessels made of reeds, which they called “Caballitos de Totoras.”
African warriors may have partaken in a form of SUP to travel via canoe to enemy lines. Some folks may have even used a form of SUP to ride the waves after a long, hard day.
The Great Divide
Many of these ancient stories can’t necessarily be proven, and there seems to be a divide between SUP of the ancient past and SUP as we know it today.
Some folks believe the sport originated in Waikiki back in the 1950s. It’s said that SUP enthusiasts took to the beaches, excited to try surfing as a sport.
It’s believed that a group of enthusiasts dubbed “beach boys” began teaching others to stand up and surf after one of their own used a paddle and set off on foot on his redwood hot curl board.
Apparently, these water sports lovers snapped photographers while riding the waves. This activity became affectionately known as “beach boy surfing.”
Jump ahead to the early 2000s, when well-known water sports enthusiasts Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama began using long boards and paddles for fitness.
Later, in 2004, surfer Brian Keaulana saw his father’s surf event/party as the perfect opportunity to introduce SUP as a sport, and people took notice. The activity gained instant popularity, which continues to grow to this day.
Nowadays, SUP is an activity practiced worldwide. People use SUPS for fishing, fitness, recreation and competition.
It’s an intergenerational activity, making it perfect for families. The sport can be practiced on flat water, waves or rapids. While many SUP enthusiasts prefer the ocean, virtually any body of water will do. Many SUP-friendly places offer lessons, fitness classes, and tours.
If you haven’t yet taken the plunge and tried SUP for yourself, check out our Ultimate Beginners Guide to Stand Up Paddle Boarding for inspiration, tips, and tricks for fun on the water!