Stand up paddle boarding in Maui? This is everything you’ll need to know to get started….

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Tips and Techniques


Let’s face it, you probably didn’t come to Hawaii to follow a schedule or a to do list. However, a little structure isn’t necessarily a bad thing even while you ‘go with the flow’. That’s the philosophy that spurs many visitors who pursue wave riding while on Maui, it just makes sense, when in Rome do as the Romans, when in Hawaii do as the Hawaiians and go for a paddle.

Even though SUP takes some learning and is a great core workout, don’t let that stop you. Once you get a taste of the view from the water, it will all be worth it! Here are some steps you can take to prepare yourself for your first stand up paddle:

How to hold the paddle

how to hold the sup paddle

how to hold the sup paddle

It’s not uncommon to see beginners flipping their paddles over and over, trying to figure out the right side to put forward. Know from the get-go that you have to p​addle with the face of the blade slightly angled forward, like the palm of your hand when swimming, the marking or logos on the paddle are usually on the front side of the paddle, use that as a quick way to know which way to hold your paddle.

Another quick rule of thumb in finding the placement of your bottom hand is to use the 90 degree rule used in kayak paddling. Hold the T top of the paddle with one hand, grasp the shaft with the other, then place the paddle on your head and find 90 degree angles at the elbows.

Kneel before you stand

The great majority of new paddle boarders k​neel on the board ​before they stand up. This is a smart move, because it enables you to get your balance and positioning on the board, practice the stroke, learn how to steer and turn the board around. You can also find the sweet spot near the middle which provides the most stability for your individual weight and size.

Standing up straight is not everything, you need momentum

Gradual and consistent paddling is essential to keeping balance and building momentum.  Paddling actually helps stop you from swaying and lurching around and once you have momentum, it becomes so much easier to balance and the glide through the water.  Once you get moving, you will want to go farther and faster!

Get Up, Stand Up

Now you get to enjoy the view! Your full range and speed of motion won’t be unlocked unless you stand up.

5 Steps to Stand Up On Your First Try

  1. Keep your eyes on the horizon line, especially if you feel you are losing your balance
  2. Leave the paddle in the middle of the board
  3. Put your hands on the board and push your weight down on them
  4. Pop your knees up so your feet are flat on the board
    They should be about shoulder width apart: any closer together and you won’t have a steady stance; any wider apart and you will probably be uncomfortable and unstable
  5. As you straighten up, grab the paddle and make a few little strokes to gain some momentum

Pay attention to your technique

Rather than just dipping or jabbing the paddles into the water, stretch out your arms and pull from up in front of your board. Your stroke should be from as far as you can reach (without comprising your posture) back to your toes where you exit your paddle from the water. Try not to bend your arms while stroking and let you bigger muscle groups do the work.

Don’t be scared of falling in the water

Even the most skilled paddle boarders sometimes take an impromptu dip. Take the opportunity to cool down a little! When jumping or falling in the water, please a​void making a grab for the board ​if you sense yourself teetering – you don’t want to hit it or your paddle, it won’t sink like you, and it might hurt so just step to the side and take a dip into the water.

Enjoy the moment

It’s just you, the paddle board, the islands and the Pacific ocean. What’s not to enjoy? Although the rhythm of paddling can break a sweat, that doesn’t mean you have to work very hard. You came here to do as you please, so enjoy yourself and the water. Observe the marine life and intricate coral just beneath your feet while your take in the views.

Remember this advice when you’re on your board, and it should only take a lesson’s worth of practice for you to gain confidence. People of all ages become hooked to the feeling of their board pushing through the waves, the Hawaiian sun kissing their back and being out in nature, so be ready — this might be the beginning of a romance with the ocean.

Are you interested in taking a SUP lesson, going on a Stand Up Paddle Tour or renting a Maui stand up paddle board? Call Maui Stand Up Paddle Boarding at (808)568-0151