Two years ago, I was in search of an activity my teenage daughter and I could experience together. We rented paddle boards in New Symrna Beach on a perfect Florida Spring day. As we paddled through the mangrove canals we encountered incredible sea life, splashing dolphins, and leaping fish that made us laugh. We were hooked!
All across the USA, and now in Europe and Australia, landlocked people have started using stand up paddle boards (SUP) as a replacement option to the canoe or kayak. Its popularity has surged to become the fastest growing recreational water activity for the whole family. What an awesome way to enjoy the Florida water ways together.
Paddle boarding is an awesome activity for every age.
My sister loves to paddle, while her youngster sits on the front of the board. Together they explore the great outdoors making it a bonding and educational time.
No matter your fitness level, paddle boarding is forgiving. As a beginner, consider taking a lesson (group or private) or a First-Timer tour. The benefits allow you to understand the proper board and paddle size, the confidence of instruction from a certified trainer on the correct form to paddle, and a stress free experience.
I was a little intimidated in the beginning, since balance and grace is not my strength. I figured it pretty quickly. Plus the worse thing that can happen is that I get wet doing a water sport.
FYI: You will get a workout! Paddling is a great core workout, engaging every muscle either actively or as core stabilizer, but you don’t realize it because you are having so much fun.
Who rents paddleboards in Orlando?
Central Florida has two great companies:
Central Florida Paddle Boarding main office located on Lake Fairview (Lee Road & Orange Blossom Trail)
Paddleboard Orlando – main office located on Lake Kilarney (Trader Joe’s shopping center)
Both groups offer the perfect experience for any SUP level and they travel throughout Seminole, Orange, and Volusia counties.
They both have a knowledgeable staff that provides –
- lessons at all levels for individual or group
- tours throughout Central Florida and the East Coast
- equipment rentals and sales
- organizes group events, birthday parties, and they will meet you with boards to explore the vast selection of lakes.
- yoga classes on boards.
What age does my child need to be?
In talking with local instructors, it depends on the company’s policy. Rental companies do have child size boards. Most feel that between 10 yrs – 13 yrs old can paddle solo. If you have a younger child who is sporty, they may be able to handle it just fine. Otherwise, the non-paddling child can ride on the front of the board and enjoy the ride.
Great Paddle Boarding Experiences
In Central Florida, there are an abundance of options for family paddling adventures.
The Winter Park Chain of Lakes, Wekiva River, Butler Chain of Lakes, Moss Park, and the Rainbow River are just scratching the surface. As well as downtown lakes: Lake Ivanhoe, Lake Fairview and Lake Kilarney.
On the East Coast, there are several incredible locations to explore all along the Halifax and Indian Rivers. You can join a group tour or be adventurous on your own.
- New Symrna Mangrove Canals – Central Florida Paddle Boarding provides tours. Paddle Board New Symrna Beach
- Tomoka Basin
- Mosquito Lagoon area
- Bio-luminescence Tour – Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. SUMMER ONLY
- Paddling.net – great resource for planning a trip. The site has an extensive map of all the SUP launch sites in Florida.
- Paddleboaring Trails – by Visit Florida.com
Purchasing Verses Renting a Board
Always the first thing to ask is “how often am I REALLY going to use it?” This takes a clear and realistic approach. You might wish you could go out all the time, but maybe the reality is it might only happen once or twice a year. If that is the case, rent it! Where there is water…there is a high probability there is a rental business ready to serve you. Average cost for a half day is $30-$35.
If the answer is frequent (several times a year), then consider investing in a board. The recent Boy’s Life Magazine featured an article “Paddleboarding Buying Guide” which lays out the basic information when looking for a board. Also, paddling.net has informative videos and articles. Always get educated and ask a lot of questions.
We purchased our boards at an end of season sale at Travel Country. Prices can range $550 and up. I have seen inflatable boards and bottom line basics at Costco for $299.00 – you get what you pay for. Also remember you need a vehicle that is capable of transporting a very long board.
I am excited to explore more of Central Florida this summer on the water with my family, while have the added exercise benefits. Would love to hear about your paddle boarding experiences, please share in the comments.