Stand Up Paddleboarding is a great way for families with older children to experience Southwest Florida's marine habitats. 

Stand Up Paddleboarding is a great way for families with older children to experience Southwest Florida's marine habitats. 

Sanibel Sea School recently added regularly scheduled Stand Up Paddleboard-based ocean adventures to its list of programs. We're excited to share the news that we now offer Discover Paddling classes and private guided paddling for families and groups on Sanibel. We're also an authorized dealer for BOTE, Body Glove, and Kialoa boards and accessories. 

All of our SUP programs are led by Spencer Richardson, an ACA-certified SUP instructor with a degree in biology and a broad knowledge of our local flora and fauna. We sat down with her to talk about these new opportunities for ocean exploration. 

You paddle almost every day. What makes paddleboarding a great way to explore the ocean, compared to other activities like boating or kayaking?

Stand up paddleboarding is one of my favorite ways to explore the ocean because it allows you a far line of sight and an incredible view of the water below. It's also great exercise, and it's quiet enough that you do not disturb wildlife, which sometimes happens in a boat. 

What is Discover Paddling, exactly? 

Our Discover Paddling class is a great introduction to SUP, and a perfect way for those with paddling experience to discover new areas of Southwest Florida. For this class, we meet at Bunche Beach, which is right over the bridge. We start with a short paddling lesson, covering the basic skills needed for a successful paddle, then we take a trip through some of my favorite marine habitats and talk about what we see from a biological perspective.

This type of outing can also be arranged just for your family or group, and we can tailor the lesson to your interests and abilities. 

Addy Rundqwist paddles on San Carlos Bay. 

Addy Rundqwist paddles on San Carlos Bay. 

Who are these paddling programs designed for? 

All of our guided paddling programs are open to participants 18 and up. Children who are 13 or older may join if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. Paddling is the perfect activity for families with older children. It's a unique, fun way to spend a day on the water.

Is paddling difficult? 

No. Paddling is easy in SW Florida because of our calm waters. It only takes a few minutes to learn, and then we can set out for our adventure. 

If someone has paddled before, will a lesson really help them improve? 

Yes, you can always improve your technique and form, and there are some surprisingly simple ways to make your paddling more efficient. 

Sanibel Sea School sells SUP boards and accessories at its Flagship Campus on Sanibel. 

Sanibel Sea School sells SUP boards and accessories at its Flagship Campus on Sanibel. 

Where do Sanibel Sea School's paddling programs take place, and what kind of habitats can participants expect to see? 

Our paddling classes take place in San Carlos Bay and Rock Creek, which is by Bunche Beach. In my opinion, Bunch Beach is one of the best paddling destinations in Florida. We explore mangrove forests, mud flats, and the sandy waters around sea grass beds. These habitats are teeming with life and are very important to our local ecosystem as a whole. 

What are some of the creatures you see often while out paddling? 

One of the great things about nature is that it's full of surprises, so we never know exactly what to expect. However, we do usually get to see lots of sea and shore birds, mangrove crabs, and some great fish. I've also come across manatees, dolphins, stingrays, and a variety of interesting creatures on the mud flats and sandbars. 

What equipment is necessary enjoy paddleboarding? 

SUP gear is simple. You will need a board, a paddle, a board leash, a personal floatation device (PFD), and a whistle. It is always important to wear some sun protection while you are out paddling, so don't forget your hat, sunglasses and sun screen. 

What are some other places in our area that paddlers can explore by SUP, besides Sanibel?

If I feel like taking a paddling day trip, I go to the Estero River or the Imperial river. They are beautiful winding rivers that give you an idea of how old Florida looked. 

Thank you, Spencer! 

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To learn more or schedule your paddling adventure, please visit sanibelseaschool.org or call (239) 472-8585. Spencer is also available to answer questions directly via email at spencer@sanibelseaschool.org.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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