My balance was shaky. Even still, I paddled forward in a kneeling position. Taking a deep breath, I lifted one foot onto my board and then the next. A little rush of excitement surged through my body. Paddle, paddle, paddle. Soon enough, I was gliding effortlessly along the surface of the water. As simple as that, I was stand up paddleboarding for the first time!
Kingston is the perfect area for stand up paddleboarding (SUP) with ideal conditions on the St. Lawrence River. Not only was it a bright and sunny day, but the waters were relatively calm and it wasn’t very windy. This made it much easier to stand up on the board and drift on the water, especially for this first-timer. We encountered only a few waves when some boats in the distance passed by, and those little swells added to the fun.
I’ve lived in the Toronto and Hamilton areas for most of my life, so I had no idea that Kingston offered such a wide variety of water sports. While my partner and I were paddleboarding for the afternoon, there were people of all ages getting some exercise out on the water. Some popular activities included canoeing, kayaking, sailing, and of course, SUP. Kingston is even known as “Canada’s Freshwater Sailing Capital”!
We rented our gear from Ahoy Rentals, situated in a prime location by the water and near the downtown core. The rental process was very convenient. After renting the equipment from some friendly staff members, we walked a few steps down to the water where all of our gear was waiting for us. From there, we rested the boards on the water and climbed aboard.
Although SUP is a full body workout through paddling and staying balanced on the board, it is also quite relaxing. Though the activity can be physically demanding, my focus was primarily on the beautiful scenery. As I floated along the waterway, I discovered views of the Kingston shoreline, the neighbouring green islands, and striking sailboats in this great expanse. Though SUP requires some concentration, it was a meditative experience. I felt at ease. Any stress that I felt earlier that day had drifted away. SUP is exercise, but it is also a tranquil journey to unwind. And if I didn’t feel like paddling anymore, I could kneel, sit, or lie down on my board for a rest.
Just remember: if you let yourself float down the river, you’re going to have to paddle all the way back! We didn’t realize how far we had drifted along until it was time to battle the current to make our way back to shore. Navigating back became a challenging workout, yet I felt quite accomplished as the coastline grew closer and closer.
The Kingston waterfront is not only a great place for water activities, but it is also near many enticing restaurants and cafés. We went for a stroll around the charming downtown neighbourhood, had a meal at a delectable restaurant, and followed that up with a beverage at a local coffee shop for a memorable evening on the town.
If you’ve never tried SUP, I highly recommend visiting the Kingston shoreline and giving it a shot! It was a whole new experience hovering on the board, as if I was walking on water. SUP is the perfect combination of exercise and finding those peaceful moments exploring the great outdoors.