I have to admit, the first time I went out surfing it was a disaster! The waves, the current and that slippery board under my feet all had their say as I spent more time on the shore than in the ocean. The second try was no better – even though I had a wetsuit. Surfing is hard. I temporarily gave up after a third failed attempt when I silently cried “uncle” in the pounding surf while my rented board disappeared behind an incoming wave, which then crushed me.
Years passed and all of a sudden there was this thing called a stand up paddleboarding – affectionately called SUP – and people began to notice.
Recently, I found myself on the shore along the Bay of Banderas near Puerto Vallarta. There was something different as I stood at the edge of the shoreline, and it wasn’t the lack of a wetsuit. I had an instructor, a really long oar and a practice area to get used to the idea of standing on a paddleboard – like a surfboard but only bigger. This time, I didn’t get killed in the water.
While I am a novice at understanding both SUP and surfing, there are many similarities and a few differences. It would seem that there are different goals. Perhaps in the same way alpine skiing differs from cross-country skiing, the difference between the jolt of adrenaline versus the slow release of adventure and accomplishment. And as I found, as many will agree, SUP is easier to get started.
And that is why resorts like the Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa are catching the wave of SUP, stand up paddleboarding, and offering it as an option and as a compliment to growing trend in healthier, more active lifestyle choices at the resort.
I learned to paddleboard at the Palladium. Learned is a generous word. I am certainly not a pro, but was taught by someone from Mexico’s national SUP team (yes, there is a whole team of professionals in Mexico and the U.S. and the sport is catching on).
Here is the thing. I wasn’t crushed by wave after wave of relentless surf. It was a new starting point. A 30-minute lesson was all it took to get me going and standing on the paddleboard – this and the bunny slopes of paddleboarding – a smallish ocean water pool, which outlined, a perfect host to my foray into SUP. Actually, I was surprised at the difference that a larger sized board and the use of an oar made.
I think the most important lesson I learned was that an old dog could learn a new trick without having to worry about a wave of curled ocean barring down on me. I imagine I am not alone and that beachside resorts will continue to jump on the SUP bandwagon.
The Palladium geared more toward families with excellent services for the kids but they are developing a more health conscious vibe with beach-side yoga in the mornings, a host of games and events that help support their 300 meters of white sand beach, which etches a private corner of the Bay of Banderas. It is a beautiful location.
For vacationers looking to explore the SUP experience, the Palladium is located about 30 minutes outside of the airport of Puerto Vallarta in Riviera Nayarit and not far from the town of Sayulita.