Jose teaching a young girl the basics of sup surf at the tropical surfsup academy in Nosara Costa Rica.

What is Sup Surf?

Sup Surf is...

The word SUP stands for Stand Up Paddleboard, and if you are wondering if you can use a Sup for surfing, then you are already a natural visionary of the new up-and-coming sport of Sup Surf. Sup Surf is a type of stand-up surfing, commonly thought of as using a giant paddleboard and a paddle to surf catch waves. This is a great way to enjoy surfing, whether you are a newbie to the whole sport or a seasoned surfboard veteran looking to try something new and test out your already established skills. 

 

Is SUP Easier than Surfing? 

This is a common question for anyone thinking about using aboard to enjoy a day on the water. When SUP is mentioned by itself, it usually refers to flatwater paddling while Sup surf, like mentioned above, catches a wave on your Sup with a paddle.

The quick answer is that SUP Surfing is probably, for most, a lot easier because the boards are more extensive, you have a paddle to help catch speed, and you are standing to allow a beginner a better vision to read the ocean and wave peaks.

Below is a more detailed look at which might be more accessible.

Copy of Copy of Costa Rican Resource

Is paddleboard surfing easier than regular surfing?

For the sake of confusion, we put paddleboard surfing in the title. If you want to spark a conversation next time you have your toes in the sand, just ask a surfer what they would prefer a surfboard vs. a paddleboard. You will probably get a passionate answer of which is best or like many now realize it doesn’t matter which you prefer because the important thing is to allow as many people to enjoy the magic of riding a wave!

 

What Makes PaddleBoard Surfing Easier than Surfing?

 

Starting on Calm Waters

Paddleboard surf is a great sport and adventure activity for any surfing beginner to start at, thanks to the fact that you can begin on calmer waters to practice the basics. 

Rather than having to leap headfirst into violent sprays of surf and tackle white water rapids from the get-go, you can grab your paddleboard and head out to hit the beaches of Costa Rica on a day when the waters are calm. The surf is light, allowing you to learn the basics of this easy-to-learn water sport at a serene and laid-back pace. 

You can use the time on calmer waters to practice essential aspects of paddleboard surfing, including stance, posture, and paddle techniques, before you go ahead with attempting to tackle the more challenging waves of dawn and dusk! 

Sup Surf Board Volume vs. Surf Board Volume

Another reason most find paddleboard surfing easier than regular surfing is because of the boards that are used. The volume of the board used in water sports is the difference in how stable one feels.

Surf boards are traditionally tiny in volume because you don’t have to stand up on them until you have harnessed the wave’s energy. If you try and stand up on a surfboard on flat water, it is pretty much impossible for most.

A paddleboard for surfing is much more prominent in volume because you need to stand up on the board in flat water or while you are in the line up waiting for the next set of waves. Most importantly, because you have a board that you can stand upon at any time, this gives you the advantage of already being in the standing position as you attempt to catch a wave. This removes the need to pop up on your board which is one of the more physically demanding techniques in regular surfing.

A board you can stand up on in flat water also allows you better vision reading the wave sets and allows most beginners to see more clearly where the wave’s peak is.

Not only does the more significant volume help with balance and vision, but it also translates to more surface area on your board. When you have a giant board, it gives you more surface area to catch the wave, making it much easier for beginners.

 

 

Chart showing what size sup surf you will need as a beginner.

The Paddle Advantage

The final advantage is probably the most notable difference in the paddle. If you have not surfed with a paddleboard, you might think a paddle is one extra thing to worry about, but you will be glad you had it once you see the wave coming for two reasons.

The first is that the paddle works as your motor. In regular surfing, having the strength, timing, and endurance to be able to paddle with your two hands to catch every wave is an art in itself. If you have a paddle and a board you can stand upon, you can move faster, which helps you catch more waves and move faster to where you need to be.

The second reason is balance. If you are learning to surf and you keep falling off to the side, it certainly would be nice to have a flat blade you could place on the water to help balance yourself out and save yourself from falling. This is exactly what the paddle helps with for those learning to paddleboard surf.

While SUP Surfing and regular classic style surfing share many similarities, they both have their unique advantages. Many who start with paddleboard surfing find it easy to switch to traditional style surfing, thanks to their skills. 

The ability to practice on calmer waters, larger boards, and the use of a paddle without are a big part of what makes learning to paddleboard surf easier than other forms of classic surfing, and it’s a great starting sport for any water activities enthusiasts! 

 

 

Chart explaining the different types of sup surf paddles and the difference in prices.

How to Learn Sup Surf

Ok, now that you know what Sup Surf is and we convinced you it is easier than surfing, all that is left is the know-how of sup surf. Like any sport, it isn’t something you can learn in 10 minutes, but it is a sport that many first-timers are pleasantly surprised with their improvement in just a few classes.

There are two different ways to get started with the sport. While nothing is better than just getting on a board and beginning to paddle around on flat water, the following steps to get you hooked would be watching some sup surf videos or, even better, a sup surf camp to take your skills to the next level quickly.

 

List explaining the three basic steps to start learning sup surf.

Sup Surf Videos

Sup Surf videos can be found much more than they use to be, and good quality learning videos are a great way to starting seeing the basics of Sup surf or even used by experts to tone their more advanced maneuvers.

Here are some Sup surf videos worth watching to help you in the learning process:

SUPBoarder

StandUpPaddleTV

BluePlanetSUP

 

Sup Surf Camps

If you are more of a learner from doing, which most of us are, you will want to consider getting yourself a Sup Surf coach. This can be expensive and is usually more feasibly done by attending a Sup surf camp. If you are looking, you will want to check out sup surf camps in Costa Rica, Portugal, and Hawaii, just to name a few. These camps are intensive small group week-long events that focus on the coaching of sup surf.

Chart showing the difference in price of sup surf camps in four different countries.

Most camps have professional coaches that can evaluate every move you make and work with all levels, from first-timers to helping pros in competitions. 

One of the most beneficial parts about a sup surf camp and something you should ask when shopping for a camp is the video analysis. A sup surf camp with video analysis offers coaches and students a chance to break down their day in the water and help move their skills to the next level much quicker.

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