Happy Jamhuri day Peaches. I have a plan for you depending on how spontaneous you can be. Water sports to be specific.
If you enjoy exercise, know how to swim and are comfortable in the water, then Stand Up Paddling or Supping is going to be fun for you! Basically, a stand up paddle is much thicker than a surfboard.
My Stand Up Paddling Experience
We left Watamu Treehouse (Watamu, Kenya) in the morning at 9 ish using a tuktuk for when the tide was quite low, heading to the beach ready for our Stand Up Paddling trip.
Our lead guide who was the only guide for us, Kingi, was waiting by the shore of the beach with stand up paddle boards and paddles to give each of us safely. We were a group of six, including Paul, who is the owner of Watamu Treehouse. I had already met Barbara at Treehouse and we had bonded quite well so it was exciting to be on the same group with her. She’s from Amsterdam. Full of energy and a social butterfly like me. Actually, we had planned it! Also, I met the rest of our guests at Watamu Treehouse: Aisha, Tiki and Rosalind.
After a quick introduction, Kingi carefully gave each of us in turns, SUP paddle boards and paddles for paddling, quickly giving us basic instructions: kneel on the board with your back straight, feet forward, legs slightly apart, paddle out, find your balance and always stand on the middle of the paddle board. Also, he showed us the right way of holding the paddle. When my turn reached, he gave me a hand to stand on the SUP paddle board and when I managed to get on it, he tied a Velcro strap tightly around my ankle as an sup leash, to keep the paddle board firmly attached. Starting off on my knees, in literally baby steps, I compassed myself in the middle of the paddle board for buoyancy as I pulled myself up to a standing position. Kingi helped me size my paddle on the longer side for flat water use and the shorter side for use in the surf. The blade is bent at a slight angle to the shaft to allow for more forward reach when taking a stroke. The reason for this I was told was for security purposes, so that it can stay firm with me if by any chance strong waves, currents or winds occur or if I bump into mangroves by accident. So it wouldn’t swim away!
Let’s paddle away shall we?! We were ready to paddle on the calm blue water and so was the scorching sun! Ready as ever! Thankfully, we all had applied plenty of sunscreen on our faces, necks, arms, legs and feet. Basically any part of our skin that was exposed to the fiery sun. However, I should have carried a hat damnit! But the sun never bothered me anyway. So we set ourselves in one column on the sea water facing the sea heading towards the mangroves.
My feet were pointed forward and slightly apart, bending my knees a little with my back straight while keeping my shoulders and head up and eyes sharply looking forward. This stance helped me to shift my weight through my knees and hips for balance.
It was relatively easy to get a hang of it to the point that I felt like I had mastered the watercraft. Within minutes, I was gliding on the water paddling like a pro, turning with sharp strokes and speeding doing all the tricks I was taught in 5 minutes. “Okay show off!” Paul scoffed. If you are a fast learner and quite fit, you will get a hang of it in a short span. Paddling is like rowing a boat standing on a paddle board. In small but wide strokes, you reach out with your paddle to the front of the board and push all the way to the tail in a sweeping arc. Likewise to the left and you can adjust your speed by speeding with wide strokes and slowing down with small strokes. To turn, that was the most energetic moment because I needed to reach to the front in clockwise motions until I turned left as I leaned and twisted slightly to direct the board to the left. And anti-clockwise to turn right. I was having the best time on the water. Also, we would talk to each other as we got to know more about each other while paddling.
Stand Up Paddling Through Mida Creek Mangroves Channel
Eventually, we were all scattered on the sea some were further ahead, some behind, but we finally got to meet each other near the mangroves channel in Mida creek where we paddled enjoying the view of the lush green mangroves.
Now that was a challenge because since the mangrove channel is narrow, a wrong stroke, you hit a mangrove. And they are injurious! Trust me, I should know! My cockiness got me into one and my leg got cut until blood oozed out. Thank God it wasn’t a deep cut though. However, that did not stop me from paddling, but I boarded back onto the stand up paddle board and got to my balancing position, this time taking smaller strokes and being more careful.
Yoga Stand Up Paddling Session
Exhausted, we took a snack break as we parked our paddle boards and stand up paddles. We were sorted with peanut butter rolls, popcorn and water.
Once we were done resting and quenching our thirst, we went back to the water only to find our paddle boards towed by Kingi attached to each other in one long row. Therefore, we all took our balancing positions on our SUP boards.
It was Yoga time!!!!! Oh yes! Yoga at the sea! Just how cool is that???!!!! That was the most intense yet therapeutic exercise I did on that day. Our yoga instructor guided as we followed suit to his instructions. We did a couple of yoga stands, stretches, and positions. I fell on one position called tree pose, where you stand on one leg while the other leg bends in acute angle, foot touching the knee and hands in a praying position. Asha did her stance perfectly with her hands stretched like a bird. Jelous!
I failed terribly and within seconds I flopped into the water. I definitely did not fall with style like Tiki! Ay! Ay! Captain Morgan!!!
Of course I hopped right back on my SUP board to finish the yoga session. It was so relaxing as we closed our eyes meditating hearing all the sounds and vibrations of the sea. Frogs croaking. flies buzzing, breeze and waves sounds moving in slow motions. I will describe it in one word – MAGICAL!
Yoga marked the end of our Stand Up paddling. Relaxing our muscles and minds. Going back, we were towed by a speed boat all of us grabbing so firmly onto our SUPs while sleeping on it this time, as though holding onto our dear life. It was one of the most exciting thrill in experiences I’ve had in the sea.
You should try it out. It doesn’t have to be morning hours. There are evening sessions too!! For sundowners. It’s so calm and therapeutic, paddling while the sun sets giving you first hand beautiful views.
The choice is all yours. You can check with WatamuTreehouse in Watamu, Tribe Watersports, or any watersports center near you. But make it a plan if not today, any other day during this December holiday! Enjoy supping!
Live a little Peaches.
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