By Robby Osborne
The polls are in, and Stand-Up Paddle-boarding or SUP’ing, is currently the fastest growing recreational water sport in America. Thinking of a SUP as a surfboard with a paddle would be wrong, but not very far off.
SUPs can be used on any type of water: Flat, White or Salt. Take a look at these spots around Northern Virginia before going out to get gnarly.
White Water Paddle-boarding
The James River flows through downtown Richmond, an hour and a half away from Fairfax. Richmond was named “2012 Best River Town in America” by Outside Magazine, and the class IV rapids surging next to office buildings might have played a role in that.
About three miles upriver, the James calms down to class I-II rapids, which are ideal for learning. With that in mind, Riverside Outfitters begins their second year of White Water Paddle-boarding instruction, affectionately named Battle-boarding. Ben Moore leads the instruction, and has over four years experience paddling a SUP through whitewater across the world, including Norway and Costa Rica.
There are two trips a day, each lasting around three hours, for one at 10 a.m. and the other at 2 p.m. All necessary gear is provided, and trips are $75 per person.
Harper’s Ferry: Potomac Paddle-boarding
If the view from the base of the paddleboard is more appealing, River Riders at Harper’s Ferry, just about an hour’s drive from Fairfax, offer a paddleboard tour of the Potomac River.
Along with all the gear needed on a scenic flat-water section of the river, River riders also provides a tour guide. Prior to heading onto the water, participants will be taught basic safety, and techniques for paddling.
Prices depend on the length of the tour, which start at $70 for two hours, and $105 for three. Trips go out at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily.
Beach Eco Tours are the original SUP company of Virginia Beach, located two hours away. Having discovered the tributaries of Chesapeake Bay ideal for leisure tours, with an introductory flat water section and natural surrounds unique to the Virginia Beach area, Beach Eco Tours has dominated the SUP business in the area since 2009.
Their SUP experience is not limited to tours, as after a flat water experience, they allow for participants to sign up to get onto the waves. They also offer sunset tours, though because of their East Coast location, the sun will not disappear over the water.
Wave riding lessons are charged hourly at $75 a person.
Beach Eco Tours
(757) 754-8382, beachecotours.com
Tours start at $35, WRL start at $75