SUP Surfing: A Guide for Beginners

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Marleny Hucks
Marleny Hucks
Marlene (or Marleny as she is known in Spanish) is a mentor, teacher, cross-cultural trainer, storyteller, writer, and for those who have been under her leadership or simply sat across the table from her, she is a mirror of destiny. Her love of word and image were formed early on by one of her heroes, Dr. Seuss. If you asked those who know her well, they would describe her a compassionate, funny, wise, curious, honest, real, strong, sensitive and totally human which comes out as she teaches and writes. She sees all of life, even the most mundane, through faith and believes that who we become as we live this side of the veil is what matters not the journey itself or our circumstances. Marleny Hucks has spent her life crossing bridges. She comes from a diverse background of ministry roles and contexts as well as has transitioned in and out of the business world. Having lived outside the country as well as traveled extensively she has a fascination with culture causes her to live her life within a global mosaic no matter where her feet are planted. Marlene currently lives in South Carolina with her husband David, who owns a news company but who she says is a “crime fighter”, bringing light into darkness in their systems of their city. Marleny currently works as a content management specialist covering Myrtle Beach News for MyrtleBeachSC News.

SUP Surfing or surfing with paddles is an excellent choice for novice surfers. However, despite the fact that the sport seems quite simple, it activates almost all muscle groups of the body. In addition, SUP surfing is a great way to explore a distant river or the local coast, and an inflatable board can be taken on any trip. So, if you have just started doing SUP surfing, don’t worry: our simple tips will help you to become a real conqueror of the waves in the shortest time. 

How to choose a board for sap surfing

There are many types of boards for SUP surfing, however, sometimes it is quite difficult to choose the right shape and size. Here are a few simple things that you, as a beginner, should keep in mind when choosing a board.

Which one is better — inflatable or regular?

  • Inflatable board:
    • It is easy to transport it by bicycle or public transport in a special backpack;
    • It is convenient to store it at home;
    • It is very durable, so everything will be ok if you accidentally hit it.
  • Regular board:
    • It can be transported by car, truck or SUV;
    • It will take up more space in your home;
    • Ordinary boards come in a variety of types and sizes, so you can easily pick up a board that will be great suit to you;
    • Such boards move faster than inflatable ones, and it is easier to maintain balance on them in bad weather.

For beginners: if you just start to do this kind of sport it is better to choose the most common type of surfboard — universal. It is quite stable, so it is easy to maintain balance on it.

For fishing: choose a model with a wide top and, possibly, with special bracing for fishing gear.

For traveling: give your preference to a long and narrow one on which it will be easier for you to swim long distances. If you are going to spend the whole day on the water, a surfboard with a seat like a kayak is perfect for you.

For surfing: surfboards with paddles are shorter and narrower at the ends than usual ones, which makes it easier to control them on the waves.

Racing boards: they are longer than ordinary, so they move faster. However, it is more difficult to maintain balance on them, so we do not recommend them for beginners.  

What board to choose: SUP surfing or kayak

SUP surfing:

  • An inflatable board is easy to transport from one place to another — especially if you don’t have a car, truck or SUV;
  • If you want to cool off on a hot day, it will be easier to dive from the board;
  • SUP surfing trains the whole body — deep muscles, leg muscles, quadriceps and back muscles.


  • It moves faster and can travel longer distances;
  • It is easier to maneuver in waves, and, for example, on river rapids;
  • Since you are sitting, you will not get tired longer, and therefore, you will be able to swim further;
  • Nevertheless, you train the abdominal press, as well as the muscles of the back and even the legs.

Features of SUP surfing in the ocean and on the river

Surfing on a river or lake is much easier than in the ocean, where the waves are higher and the currents and tides are stronger. The surfing board is perfect for surfing in the ocean, because it is long and narrow, which makes it easier to control on steep waves. So, most of the surfboards are suitable for a lake or river, but if you plan to travel from one lake to another, we recommend you to choose an inflatable board, because it is much easier to transport. 

Clothes for water sport

The choice of clothes for surfing completely depends on the  temperature of the air and the probability of your falling into the water. In warm weather, for example on a hot summer day, a swimming rashie and shorts is enough. If you want, you can also take shoes for water sports or surfing, but this is not necessary. In cold weather, you may need a wetsuit, however, it will help you keep warm only when immersed in water. By the way, if you are a beginner, and therefore you will often fall into the water, this is an ideal option for you.

Synthetic fiber: if you already have some experience of SUP surfing, you can choose a “dry” type of wetsuit or other waterproof clothing. The main idea is that the clothes will be layered: so, take a base layer of synthetic fiber, such as polypropylene or polyester, complement it with a fleece, and put on a waterproof jacket for additional protection.  Clothing for the lower body should also be layered. Synthetic leggings and waterproof trousers on top will provide your feet a comfortable temperature. You can also buy waterproof gloves for sap surfing — they will warm your hands. 

We hope these tips will help you as you begin the adventure of SUP surfing.

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