Seven Lessons of Learning to Paddleboard

Sometime last summer the wife had been pestering me about trying the new sport of paddleboarding back home in Alberta.

Not exactly high on my list of things to try, and not one to back down from at least giving it a go.

Before we even arrived in Mexico the wife had read on one of the pages in our Oaxaca Travel Guide book about a shop called Cafe Surf.

At Cafe Surf, they rent snorkeling kits (fins, mask, snorkel), surf boards, kayaks, paddleboards and they teach lessons and they have tours.

Yesterday while down in Santa Cruz, we stepped into Cafe Surf to inquire about a package deal they had called Paddle & Snorkel.

For 700peso ($50 CAD) you get a 2 to 2.5 hour trip, a lesson on paddleboarding, paddleboarding in the ocean and a bit of snorkeling along with two guides.

They recommended going early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the ocean waters are calmer. We opted to pay our deposit of 200peso and come back the next morning.

As I am not an early morning riser we set up an 830am start time. We spoke to our roomie Tony about catching a ride in the morning back down into Santa Cruz to conserve our energy for the trip.

Upon entering the shop we were greeted with a friendly good morning from Oddie and Barbarra. Paying Oddie the remainder of our trip before setting out.

Next up we pulled on our rashguard shorts, swigged back 250mls of water and Oddie pushed the four paddleboards, leashes and paddles down to the beach. We left our bag, flip-flops, water and other essentials at the shop.

On the beach Oddie and Barbarra setup the boards and invited us down for a lesson in paddleboarding.

  1. Where the middle of the board is
  2. How to stand on a board
  3. How to hold the paddle
  4. How to stroke with the paddle
  5. How to slow down
  6. How to turn around
  7. How to go backwards

Next up we went into the shallow water of the bay. My wife was quick onto the board and soon going up to the swimming boundary line and back with extreme ease like if this were her 500th time on a paddleboard.

My own experience was more about how much patience I have, trying to find my balance and learning the seven lessons of paddleboarding in open waters.

  1. Gracefully falling off a paddleboard
  2. How to climb onto a board in the ocean
  3. How to use it like a knee board
  4. How to use it like a kayak
  5. How to break your sunglasses
  6. How to find patience and exhale
  7. How to pick a point and go there

Was this “fun” or was it “torture”? For the wife it was fun… she loved being on the board. She could do this going forward and backwards. She maneuvered the board like a pro! For myself it was torture. A lot of exercise (which I am definitely not complaining about) and a bit of fun. At first on the way out, I was tired, groggy and not in a good mood. Once we reached our destination of Playa Entrega, doned on our snorkel gear and went for a swim with the fishes, I was much more pleasant. Back onto the beach and onto our boards we went. The return trip was good. I spent several minutes falling off the board, getting back on it, struggling to my knees and falling back into the drink when trying to stand up.

On the return trip I performed all three methods of using the paddleboard: standing, knees and sitting.

In the end as we slowly reached the buoy line of the swimming area at Bahia de Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz Bay), I was determined to be standing on the paddleboard making my way back to shore to complete an actual dismount as one is properly taught to perform when reaching land.

It took a few minutes to get in from the swimming line and as I approached there were many many more spectators than when we had departed a few hours earlier. They watched as we approached. A smile brightening my morning until I came to a screeching halt upon the shore.

“How is it?”, said a man’s voice up on the beach beneath a salmon colored hat and a dark pair of sunglasses next to his wife in a green and yellow stripped swimsuit.

“It’s relatively fun, if you have good balance like her. If you’re like me, than it’s a lot of exercise getting onto the board. And a bit of patience. Overall… A pretty good time for a couple of hours.”

Once back at the shop we BS’d with Oddie and Barbarra, cleaned off ourselves with a garden hose, gulped down our electrolyte water, chatted about the paddleboards, and a possible kayak for hire. We all had a laugh about that one.

After thanking them again and giving a tip to our enthusiastic new amigos (friends), we strolled off down the promenade, in search of a cup of java (coffee) and a new pair of sunglasses. Because somewhere during fall number 6 or maybe 7, I had busted the frames in our journey home.