Credit Hawaiians for one of America’s most beloved exports: surfing. Now, they’re at it again with a freshly minted sport called stand-up paddleboarding. SUP is sweeping American coasts and rivers, but there’s no better place to try it than its birthplace. “If you enjoy SUP, then you must go to where it originated,” says Candice Appleby. “The gentle outer reef breaks of Waikiki are great for any skill set.”
From Honolulu, head straight to Waikiki Beach, advises Appleby, for a mai tai and a catamaran sail. “As the boat heads through the surf you will view beautiful Diamond Head, and as the sun sets, the silhouettes of stand-up paddlers will be ingrained in your memory.”
The next morning, Waikiki’s mellow breaks or the North Shore’s Haleiwa River, with lush banks, bird life, and serene water, offer training grounds for beginners. Those ready to follow the ocean-going pros hire a guide and paddle the Downwind Run from Hawaii Kai to Kaimana Beach. “This eight-mile downwind paddle is a common training run for Hawaii's top paddlers,” says Appleby, “With the proper guide and training you can experience ‘the bumps’—or open-ocean swells—and get some of the longest glides of your life.”
Hawaiian WaterSports, Wet Feet, and Surf n Sea offer stand-up paddleboard rentals and lessons.
Next: See Candice Appleby's Dream Trip: Stand-up Paddleboard Peru
Candice Appleby is a three-time women’s elite champion of Battle of the Paddle, largely regarded as the world championships of stand-up paddleboarding. She has won dozens of events across the country, making her one of the most decorated stand-up paddlers to date.