Vieques’ geography makes it an idyllic destination for stand up paddleboarding. One of the the fastest growing sports worldwide. It can be practiced in almost any body of water by almost anyone. You can do whitewater standup paddling in rivers, paddleboard surfing, or flatwater paddleboarding in calm water. Some are even doing yoga and fishing using paddleboards.
The abundance of tranquil bays makes Vieques a perfect scenario for practicing the sport. Azure-colored waters offer an intense ocean experience. While you paddle you can observe the purple sea fans swaying gently as orange colored soft coral pop up underneath you. A lonely starfish or even a vibrant school of fish will surely surprise you. By standing up, you have a perfect angle to see ocean life while paddling. Because the island runs east to west, it is ideal for downwind paddling, which many SUP lovers consider the most fun. You can paddle comfortably using your body as a sail.
The origin of stand up paddleboarding is still highly debated, but many point to Waikiki, Hawaii as the place where it all started. The Waikiki beach boys were the first to be recorded paddle surfing standing up. Laird Hamilton, a surfing pioneer who lives in Hawaii, was the one who propelled the sport into what it is today.
Although stand up paddling requires some balance, you can be up and paddling in a short time. One can see six year old kids paddling along with their grandparents. The sport has many fans, from big wave surfers to whitewater riders as well as those who enjoy calm water sports. In calm water, one can paddle against the wind for an intense workout or glide downwind and enjoy the ride.
One of the most appealing elements of the sport is that it is ideal for cross training because it builds core strength and balance. It is an amazing feeling to be out there in the water enjoying the scenery while your body is getting the workout it needs.
In Hawaii, big wave surfers are discovering a new frontier with stand up paddleboarding as a new vehicle to catch monster sized waves. In Montana, Yellowstone River becomes a new challenge when you attempt to ride the whitewater on top of a paddleboard; even in Washington D.C. people are finding new adventures on a paddleboard on the Potomac River, where they can ride the whitewater sections, surf the standing river waves, or gently glide down the river in its calm sections.
Paddle races are becoming a great hit and some are using a stand up paddleboard to navigate long distances and raise awareness for breast cancer and other causes. Last year, Puerto Rican big wave rider Ernie Alvarez, from Aguadilla, paddled around Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques to raise awareness about plastic pollution in our oceans.
For those who want to practice this sport in Vieques, it is now possible through Vieques Paddleboarding, specializing on Ecotourism using paddleboards. Jorge Enrique, a computer systems engineer, having worked for more than 20 years as a computer programmer, decided it was time to leave the desk behind. “I’ve been programming since I was 15 years old, I thought it was time to work in the outdoors which has always been my main passion.” He is a certified lifeguard, advanced diver, certified US Sailing instructor as well as cave rescue trained.
“I first used a paddleboard when taking my three year old surfing. Since then, I thought of bringing paddleboarding to Vieques because it is such a great sport. I love sailing and surfing, and when I stand up and paddle, I use my body as a sail. It’s pretty cool.” says Jorge. Now his three year old child is no longer a baby and the time has come for Vieques Paddleboarding to cater for those outdoors enthusiasts coming to enjoy Vieques’ famous caribbean waters.