By: Andrew Silverstein

The Tampa Bay area is no stranger to the open ocean and all the recreational activities it affords.  From kayaking down the Hillsborough River to surfing off the beaches of our own, beautiful Tampa Bay, the water affords us a ton of opportunities our midland neighbors are without.

Stand up paddle boarding, or S.U.P. as many like to abbreviate it, is one of the newest and easiest to learn water-based forms of recreation sweeping across the country and the Bay area.  Options for stand up paddling in Tampa are numerous, but we're getting ahead of ourselves here.

Originating in Hawaii in the 1960's, stand up paddle boarding began as a way for native Hawaiians to teach and monitor large groups of tourists taking part in their surfing classes.  A high vantage point allowed these instructors to monitor the entire group.  The name of the activity explains it all; standing on a board, typically longer and wider than most, and utilizing a kayak-like paddle to navigate the waters.

Today, many stand-up paddle board as a non-intensive way to exercise and venture out into the ocean in a new and unique way.

To get a taste of stand-up paddle boarding, you've got a number of options in the Tampa Bay Area.  FloridaBoarder is a South Tampa business specializing in S.U.P. and kiteboarding lessons for those of all skill levels.  Their basics class will teach you proper paddle boarding techniques like turning and balancing the board on the calm waters off Davis Island.  This class is offered twice a week.  Check the FloridaBoarder website here for class times and more details.

Across the bay on St. Pete Beach, the WaterMonkey shop offers lessons and tours as well. The owner and instructor at WaterMonkey is pro paddle boarder, Chase Kosterlitz who was a top finisher at paddle races in Hawaii, California, Puerto Rico and a number of other locales.  Gain some of his insight with an intro paddle board class or a tour through beautiful Fort De Soto Park.

These are two great options if you're looking to do some stand up paddle boarding in Tampa or St. Petersburg.  If you're looking for something to do, head out, take a lesson or tour, and enjoy this unique, fun opportunity today!