Why SUP is Skyrocketing in Popularity: 12 Compelling Reasons

More commonly known as SUP, stand-up paddleboarding has burst onto the water sports scene in the last few years. In fact, SUP had the most first-time participants in the USA out of all water sports in 2013 (source). This explosive boom in popularity is not without reason.

Why is SUP becoming so popular? This comprehensive article details the exact reasons behind the tremendous rise of SUP and why it only looks like this trend will continue to rise in the future.

1.) An Effective Form of Meditation

One of the charming aspects of SUP is the ability to unwind mentally from the strain of daily life. People even go as far as to say that SUP is a sincere source of meditation for them.

Emphasis on Slow, Tranquil Movements

It is not as far-fetched as people assume. Nearly every movement in SUP helps to promote relaxing introspection. The acts of drifting out to calmer waters, gently swaying with the waves, and keeping a steady paddling rhythm all help elicit a meditative state.

Unlike surfing or speedboating, where the motion is fast-paced, SUP provides a leisurely outlet for those simply looking to take their minds away from civilization for a little while.

The Peace and Quiet Helps to Open Up Your Mind

Nothing can compare to the serenity of being out on the open water. In life, it is easy to lose track of your thoughts with all of the different things that warrant attention on a day-to-day basis. The gentle lull of the water can help take away these distractions.

In the absence of these disturbances, you may find that you can reflect on things that you never thought of previously. Or you may find that you do not think at all. For some, all the meditation they need is the slow, steady rhythm of the paddle stroke. There is something to be said of finding solace in the simplicity of repetition.

2.) Refreshing Form of Exercise

Apart from the mental aspect, SUP is beneficial for the body as well. Stand-up paddleboarding is a remarkable way to exercise in a refreshingly different way.

Complete Full Body Workout

SUP is not limited to just exercising your arms. Every paddle stroke requires the use of virtually every muscle in your body to move the paddleboard efficiently. Everything must work in unison to propel yourself across the water from your shoulders down to your calves.

SUP is also considered a fantastic core workout because your abdominals have to constantly work for stability and maneuvering around the water. All of this additional muscle activation has a compounding effect, allowing you to burn some extra calories in a short span of time.

Change-Up from the Old Fitness Routine

Many fit individuals develop a strict workout schedule and stick to this program for weeks on end. However, going to the gym and doing the same thing repeatedly can feel extremely boring and monotonous after a while. Once you reach this humdrum condition, some workout spark is needed.

SUP can serve to ignite this spark because it is such an unconventional form of exercise. In addition, this change-up from your normal exercise habits can help to remind you of why you started on your fitness journey in the first place.

It may not involve heavy weights or a treadmill, but it certainly tests your muscular strength and endurance. Not to mention you also receive the bonus of enjoying some fresh air while doing it.

3.) Extremely Easy to Do in Any Sort of Water

The activity of stand-up paddleboarding is also easily adaptable to nearly any type of aquatic condition. For this reason, people across the globe have been able to try out SUP for the first time regardless of where they live.

Can Be Performed on Most Bodies of Water

When I say virtually any body of water, I do really mean any body of water. Rivers. Canals. Lakes. Oceans. Shallow Coves. Some SUP instructors even conduct their teaching sessions in swimming pools!

There are a ton of water sports that do not get to indulge in this luxury. For example, any water sport that demands the use of a boat is limited in where they can travel on the water. Boats that cross shallow depths run the risk of scraping their hull and potentially doing some severe damage. On the other hand, paddleboarders can traverse shallow waters without worrying about doing any real amount of damage to their equipment.

Can Be Performed in Calm Water and Whitewater

In addition, SUP has several ways for individuals to ride their paddleboard in calm waters and choppy waters.

On calm waters, people can paddle with ease and cruise around on the water. It is standard for first-timers to opt for this route since they still have yet to master the fundamental aspects of SUP.

For people that are searching for more of a thrill, surfing and competitive racing are also valid options to choose from. The majority of people often think of SUP strictly in a relaxed, slow-paced setting. Not many people are aware that there are more fast-paced SUP alternatives, like surfing and competitive racing, out there as well.

Of course, these activities generally require more experience and skill with the paddleboard. But, then again, everyone has to start from somewhere.

4.) Plenty of Water Activities to Choose From

Furthermore, there are plenty of activities that fall under the broad umbrella of SUP. These water ventures specialize in helping people discover unique ways to go outside and experience their passion for the water.

Casual Paddle Boarding

Casual paddleboarding is undoubtedly the most popular branch of SUP. When people think of SUP, they think of gently paddling along calm waters. The overarching purpose of this branch of SUP is to explore in a laid-back, unhurried fashion.

Since this activity is primarily done on flat water, it does not take much effort. For this reason, this is the choice activity for many first-timers just looking to get their feet wet in the domain of SUP.


Even though the stand-up paddleboard is primarily built to serve as a solid support system to help riders maintain their balance, there are other options that the paddleboard presents as well. For example, surfing is another viable possibility with SUP.

Paddleboarders have the capacity to ride even the most choppy waves to shore. The average paddleboard is slightly bulkier than your average surfboard, making it easier for people to stay in an upright stance while cruising on the waves. The presence of the paddle also aids riders in maneuvering this heftier board around the waves.


The excess material of the paddleboard even caters to those that have a passion for fishing. Rather than needing to take a boat out on the water, people also have the choice of taking their fishing gear on their next SUP outing.

Fishermen can easily load their fishing equipment onto the paddleboard and still have sufficient room for themselves. In addition, this allows individuals to seek out new fishing areas that they may never have had access to before, such as shallow coves and inland marshes.


In addition, people have also discovered that they have the capacity to perform yoga on their paddleboards.

I never really ever considered performing yoga out on the water a possibility until I realized this trend. It is a rare occasion that people can combine two captivating interests into one activity successfully. This trend has allowed people that share a passion for SUP and yoga the opportunity to do both in a single workout.

It is this diversity of pursuits that have helped to propel SUP along into stardom.

5.) Cost Effective Way to Try a New Water Sport

The sport of SUP is also relatively inexpensive compared to other water sports. As a result, people have a hard time resisting all of the benefits of SUP for such a low, reasonable price.

The typical prices for stand up paddleboard rentals are shown in the table below:

Rental TimeOverall Cost
1 hour$20
Half Day$40
Full Day$60

These rental costs are pretty reasonable, especially when pitted against something like scuba diving, for example. You have to rent a scuba mask, snorkel, fins, wet suit, buoyancy compensator, and regulator in scuba diving. Not to mention you have to pay for the trip to and from the scuba diving location. Needless to say, all of these rentals can add up really quickly!

With SUP, the only real equipment you need is the paddleboard and the paddle. This lack of substantial equipment makes SUP much less costly and more attractive to first-timers, which has helped feed its booming popularity.

6.) Get to Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Another intriguing facet of SUP is that it provides people the opportunity to enjoy nature at its finest.

The activity of stand-up paddleboarding was founded on the idea of cruising around on the water for pure enjoyment. So there was really no end goal involved when renowned water sports figures Dave Kalama and Laird Hamilton first picked up the paddle in the early 2000s. They merely wanted to relish in the stillness of the water and take a breather from the up-tempo nature of surfing.

Since then, many people have followed suit. It is a relaxing way for individuals to get in touch with their craving for adventure. The prospect of enjoying the tranquility of the water outdoors is reason enough for most people to try out SUP.

7.) Famous Celebrities Have Brought Awareness to the Sport

There are a considerable amount of celebrities that have decided to give SUP a try. Their efforts have brought a tremendous amount of media attention to the up-and-coming water sport of SUP, urging people everywhere to take after their favorite star figures.

NFL superstar Tom Brady, American actress Jennifer Aniston, American actress Cameron Diaz, and renowned singer Rihanna have all hopped onto the exploding trend of SUP. This has sparked their massive celebrity following to pick up a paddle and attempt SUP for themselves.

The influence of celebrities has been an extraordinary boost in raising awareness for SUP. Without their help, it is difficult to say how popular this water sport would have been.

8.) Family Friendly Water Sport

Part of the beauty of SUP is that everyone in the family can join in that is willing to try something new. No one has to be excluded from the outing.

Practically Anyone in the Family Can Do It

Since SUP does not demand substantial strength or athleticism to perform, age is pretty much a non-factor. Consequently, young and old individuals can easily learn the fundamental techniques of SUP, even if it is their first time even touching a paddleboard.

This makes SUP a fantastic choice for families on vacation looking for an activity that they can do together. Oftentimes, this task is a lot more challenging to do than it seems on paper. SUP eliminates all of the trouble of having to sort who can do what and where.

Can Bring the Children Along for the Ride

Even young children that lack the strength necessary to ride on their own paddleboard can join the SUP outing.

Since stand-up paddleboards are so big and bulky, riders have no problem fitting a small child with an adult onto one paddleboard. There is more than enough room for a child to be seated comfortably on the board while an adult takes care of the paddling.

Young children jump at the chance to take part in a water excursion. Just the sight of fish darting around underneath the paddleboard is enough to get them excited. It is a rare opportunity for both parents and children to bond in this manner. This is why so many families are drawn to the idea of experimenting with SUP.

9.) Do Not Have to Deal with a Whole Lot of Hassle

A large portion of the popularity of SUP can also be attributed to the minimalistic nature of the sport.

Equipment is Easily Portable

As aforementioned, there are only really two mandatory pieces of equipment that people need to stand up paddleboard: the paddle and the board itself.

This SUP gear is not heavy whatsoever. Only one person is really needed to haul these items to shore.

There is a specific place on the board where you can fasten the paddle. There is also a carrying handle that allows riders to hoist the paddleboard and the paddle together. For this reason, most people can carry all the SUP gear to shore in one single trip.

Not Many Prerequisite Steps Involved

In addition, there are not many essential steps involved with prepping for stand-up paddleboarding.

Of course, the first priority is to transport the gear to the water. After that, all that an individual needs to do is put the bottom of the paddleboard on top of the water, venture away from the shoreline, kneel on the paddleboard, stand up, and start paddling.

This is vastly different from an activity like snowboarding, for example. Snowboarding demands a ton of prerequisite steps before a person can even reach the slopes. They have to drive up to the mountain, throw on their heavy winter gear, rent snowboarding equipment, buy a lift ticket, wait in line for the lift to come around, and then wait for the lift to reach the top of the mountain.

By the time you finally get around to actually snowboarding, you might already be exhausted! Luckily, SUP is not nearly as much of a hassle.

10.) Can Go as Slow or Fast as You Like

Paddleboarders also have the benefit of choosing how fast or slow they want their SUP experience to be.

This mainly has to do with the diverse amount of activities that SUP can offer. This broad selection of activities is better able to cater to the needs and desires of individuals that are searching for a lively, refreshing water sport to try out for the first time.

Slow-Paced Tempo

There are many ways that individuals can take it slow on the water without having to endure the rigor of a strenuous workout. People have been known to enjoy fishing, going on romantic dates, and even hanging out on a hammock on top of their paddleboards.

These SUP activities are popular among people that are just looking for a reason to relax on the water.

Fast-Paced Tempo

There is also another side to this spectrum. SUP offers people the chance to take on the challenge of a more risky, laborious expedition with activities such as SUP surfing, competitive racing, and touring.

For those who do not know, paddle boarders that engage in “SUP touring” travel a lengthy distance at a brisk pace without ever stopping to take a recess. This demands a tremendous amount of muscular endurance, so it is largely considered a fast-paced challenge for riders.

This opportunity for an up-tempo water experience has helped spread the sport to thrill-seekers looking for a new way to put themselves to the test.

11.) Low Chance for Possible Injury

Moreover, SUP is regarded as a safe, low-impact water sport.

Since most first-time stand-up paddleboarders elect to take a nice, easygoing journey, there are not many opportunities where they can potentially harm themselves.

Even if a novice does manage to lose their balance and fall into the water, there is seldom any physical harm done. In practically every case, all they want to do is swim back to their paddleboard and try again.

This activity does not require dangerously high speeds like that of surfing or jet skiing. Thus, any mistake that a paddleboarder makes is not really serious. This has helped to bolster the appeal of SUP to people that are afraid to venture out into the water for fear of potential injury.

12.) Quick and Easy to Learn

Lastly, people have an effortless time learning SUP in a short period.

Within the first session, most beginners can gather the confidence necessary to stand up and start paddling efficiently. This is because all riders really need to master is how to balance on the paddleboard properly. The construction of the paddleboard is designed specifically for this purpose.

The board’s extra length, width, and thickness lay a firm foundation for people to stand on while paddling. Once the balance is mastered, people can easily grasp the complementary fundamentals such as the correct way to hold a paddle, how to paddle effectively, and how to maintain a proper upright stance.

This quick learning process minimizes the possibility of any frustration that first-timers may feel. Thus, novices have a much simpler time opening up and enjoying their water adventure rather than worrying about whether they will fall in.

Sources: 1

Austin Carmody

I am the owner of HydroPursuit. I enjoy kicking back and getting out on the water as much as I can in my free time.

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