Editor’s Note: As part of the “100 days of Summer,” The Log will be exploring Destin and the activities it has to offer during the summer season. We begin the series by looking at paddleboarding.
Take a walk down any beach, bay or body of water in Destin, and there is no doubt, paddleboarding is the new sport that has taken Destin by storm. Paddleboarders can be seen all along the coast standing atop long surf-boards and using a paddle, much like that of a canoe, to make their way through the water.
“Paddleboarding has been around for tons of years, it started out in Hawaii and came around here a few years ago,” said GUSU store manager, Chris Glenn. “It gets anyone and everyone on the water.”
GUSU, which stands for ‘Get Up Stand Up,’ is a local Destin brand focusing largely on the emerging paddleboarding industry. Started by Destin local, Steve Hill and later joined by partner John Parks, the company has truly taken off since its opening five years ago.
“When I came in, we were still selling paddleboards out of our beach service warehouse,” said Parks. “We started as a retailer first, and then developed our own brand and the whole GUSU brand branched out.”
So what is the great draw to this new sport?
Parks said that every year the sport grows more popular, as tourists and locals alike discover the ease and enjoyment of paddleboarding.
“The more people see it the more they realize anybody can do it. They find out just how simple it is to learn, and that you can do it anywhere in the country not just on the beaches,” he said. “It’s getting more and more popular anywhere you go, and there is a ton of exposure in this area for paddleboarding.”
For paddleboard instructor, and professional racer, Garrett Fletcher, it’s simply the joy of being active.
“For me it’s standing on the water,” he said. “I’ve known about SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) for four years, and have been racing professionally for three… I got hooked on it.”
Fletcher told The Log that paddleboarding accommodates people of all ages and fitness levels, and that from the beginners to elite riders he believes the sport is just about the pure enjoyment of the water.
“Have fun, don’t be intimidated,” he said, “Just have fun with it really.”
As for the board itself, there are different styles to fit each rider’s need.
“There are displacement boards, which cut through the water, and there are planing boards which glide on top of the water,” said Fletcher.
In paddleboard lingo, Fletcher said boards are referred to as ‘rec’ boards, ‘surf-style’ boards, ‘race’ boards and ‘cruising models,’ and for the average novice, he recommends a wide cruising model.
“The wider the board, the more stable it is; the longer the board, the better the glide,” he said. “Paddleboarding is just a new aspect of being on a board. There’s a board for everybody.”
There are many options when it comes to paddleboarding in Destin. Here is a list of some places in that offer rentals, lessons and paddleboard sales.
Bay Paddlesports 850-420-6078, www.baypaddlesports.com
Blue Heron Watersports 850-737-0607, www.blueheronpontoonrentals.com
Bote Boards 850-460-2250, www.boteboard.com
GUSU Paddle Sports/The Xperience 850-460-7300, www.gusupaddlesports.com
Innerlight Surf 850-650-5509, www.innerlightsurf.com
La Dolce Vita 850-650-0289, www.ldvbeachservice.com
Paddle Destin SUP, 850-333-6998 www.paddledestinsup.com
SUP Express 850-391-8433, www.supexpress.com