An ancient method of transportation has become a trendy new way to spend time on the water in Southwest Florida. Standup paddleboarding continues to ride a wave of popularity through tourist destinations and local beaches up and down the Gulf of Mexico.
Florida Gulf Coast University offers stand-up paddleboards to students for leisurely rent, among other popular water activities such as kayaking, tubing and even sailing.
As a water sport, standup paddleboarding originated in Hawaii as a spinoff of surfing. Before its gnarly times on the waves, standup paddleboarding was a mode of transportation, specifically in ancient cities surrounded by bodies of water. In ancient African cultures, individuals used boards and canoes propelled by long sticks.
Students come to FGCU from all over the country to enjoy the Gulf and the FGCU Waterfront and usually take advantage of the free rental options.
“I rent them all the time,” said Ashley Hudnall, an FGCU student. “I always paddle out to the middle of the lake and lay out there for a bot to help with stress.”
As its popularity continues to grow, it looks like standup paddleboarding is here to stay.
“We included paddleboards three years ago with just three boards,” said Todd Richards, a managing member at Lovers Key Adventures, a local vendor that rents out paddleboards to visitors at Lovers Key State Park. “We now have over 20, and we rent out of them consistently. With a variety of ways to use a paddleboard like racing, yoga, exercise programs and touring, the paddleboards are here to stay.”