Stand-up paddling (or SUP for short), a sport with roots in the Hawaiian Islands, has grown popular worldwide in recent years. It's available for all skill levels and ages, and even novice stand-up paddleboarders can get up, stay up, and have a great time paddling around a protected bay or exploring the gorgeous coastline. All you need is a large body of water, a board, and a paddle. The workout tests your core strength as well as your balance, and offers an unusual vantage point from which to enjoy the beauty of island and ocean.
Anaehoomalu Bay Beach (A-Bay. In this well-protected bay, even when surf is rough on the rest of the island, it's usually fairly calm here, though trades pick up in the afternoon. Boards are available for rent at the north end, and the safe area for stand-up paddling is marked by buoys. Off Waikoloa Beach Dr., south of Waikoloa Beach Marriott, Kohala Coast.
Hilo Bay. At this favorite among locals, the best place to put in is at Reeds Bay Beach Park. Most afternoons you'll share the bay with local paddling clubs. Stay inside the breakwater unless the ocean is calm (or you're feeling unusually adventurous). Conditions range from extremely calm to quite choppy. Banyan Way and Banyan Dr., 1 mile from downtown Hilo.
Kailua Bay and Kamakahonu Beach. The small, sandy beach that fronts the Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel is great for kids; the water here is especially calm and gentle. If you're more daring, you can easily paddle out of the bay and along the coast for some great exploring. Alii Dr., next to Kailua Pier, Kailua-Kona.
Equipment and Lessons
Ocean Sports. This outfitter rents equipment, offers lessons, and has the perfect location for easy access to the bay. Ocean Sports also operates rental shacks at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, Whale Center Kawaihae, Queens' MarketPlace, and on the beach at Anaehoomalu Bay. Waikoloa Beach Marriott, 69-275 Waikoloa Beach Dr., Waikoloa, HI, 96738. 808/886–6666. www.hawaiioceansports.com. Stand-up paddleboard rentals $30 per hr.
Sun and Sea Hawaii. This full-serve ocean sports shop rents 11-foot inflatable stand-up paddleboards for four hours and for a full day. Snorkel, scuba, surfing, and kayaking equipment is also available for sale or rent. Hilo Bay front, 244 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo, HI, 96720. 808/934–0902. From $45.