If you’re looking to explore some of the world’s waterways from – literally – a whole new angle then a stand up paddle boarding vacation might well be for you. It’s relatively straightforward for beginners to get the hang of, and once you’ve mastered the art of standing up you’ll be gliding, swan-like, over transparent waters where fish dart and smooth pebbles loom large below the surface.

Small group stand up paddle boarding vacations whisk you away to lesser-known locations to be guided between the islands by expert instructors. You’ll paddle around beaches, cliffs and caves, and become one with the ocean – if you lose your balance. But there are also plenty of opportunities to explore on dry land, with optional hikes, cycle rides and meals of freshly caught fish cooked over an open fire.

On these trips, the guides will have an in depth knowledge of tides, currents and weather conditions, boosting your confidence and letting you focus on a Zen like inner calm. Joining a small group is also perfect for solo travelers looking to share an experience or just enjoy the sense of seclusion, set adrift against a backdrop of islands, secret coves and fishing villages.
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Stand up paddle boarding, as the name suggests, involves standing up on a board and paddling your way across a lake, river or ocean. The boards are longer and wider than surfboards; some companies will also use rigid inflatable boards which can be transported more easily, as they shrink down to the size of a backpack. Boards have a fin underneath for stability and come in a variety of sizes. Similar to surfing, the smaller and sleeker the board, the faster it will go but also the more practice will be required to retain balance. Beginners’ boards are usually as big as barn doors, although don’t be fooled – falling off is still wonderfully easy, especially for first timers. In the warm summer waters of the Mediterranean, of course, this is not too much of a worry. You’ll be attached to your board with a bungee cord Velcroed around your ankle, too, so you won’t drift away.

You have a single, long paddle, and you’ll be taught how to move forwards, turn and ‘brake’. Top tips are keeping arms outstretched for maximum paddle power, and knees bent – tennis player-style – for minimum wobble. Another key to SUP is to look at the water just in front of the board’s nose, rather than the board itself. Keep your back straight as though there were a metal pole leading from your head and down through your backbone, use core muscles; relax.

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Croatia is just made for messing about on the water. There are some great SUP routes to be found around the island of Molat, just a short ferry ride from Zadar. Paddling out from Molat takes you into the Zadar archipelago – one of the densest in the Med – where hundreds of tiny islets, sandy spits and shallow lagoons offer ample opportunities to rest, soak up the sun or snorkel over crystal clear waters. These are places that just can’t be reached by cruise ship; you can paddle out to your very own empty cove, where you can swim, snorkel or explore ex military submarine caves.

On Molat, you’ll be staying in family run accommodation, starting each day with a hearty breakfast, and ending it with dinner prepared by community-led cooperatives. Meals are served alfresco, so you can continue to enjoy those island views, and only prepared for a limited number of guests per year. On these tours, SUP boards are interchangeable with sea kayaks; you can stick to one or try a combination. For example, you may want to SUP on the shorter routes, and kayak the longer ones. You can pack whatever you need for the day, such as towels, sun screen and water, in a dry bag to be carried on your board or kayak.


The nature of SUP means that you’re usually out on relatively calm waters; this is not wild, white water rafting or sea kayaking. Your vantage point means you’ll be able to take in the surrounding scenery, so this is definitely a focus of SUP vacations, rather than seeking our rapids and barrels. Your guide will take care of navigation, leaving to you relax and absorb. On small group vacations, your expert instructor will be more than aware of the tides and hidden currents, and will keep up to date with weather forecasts, to ensure you don’t encounter any troubles out at sea.

The greatest risk when paddle boarding is probably sunburn; you’re out on the water with no shade, and the sun will be reflected back at you from all angles. So high factor sunscreen, a hat with a brim, sunglasses, long sleeves and a neck buff are highly recommended pieces of kit. Be sure to keep hydrated, too. Water, water maybe everywhere – just make sure you have some to drink. Some paddle boarders wear a wetsuit, especially if paddling in chillier waters – but it’s unlikely you’ll fall in once you get the hang of it, and wetsuits are extremely hot, so do check with your tour operator to see what they recommend.


In the Mediterranean, SUP vacations run throughout May, June and July. May and early June are ideal if you’d prefer to avoid the searing heat of midsummer, and flights may also be cheaper – although water temperatures will be cooler. Late June into July will be hot, but you’ll miss the worst of the coastal crowds in August. All of these months have wonderfully long daylight hours, giving extra time to paddle – or to chill out on the beach once you’re done.
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Kent Wang] [Intro: Yasin Ho?gör] [What is stand up paddle boarding?: Jad Limcaco] [Is stand up paddle boarding safe?: Ben White] [Best time to go: dimitrisvetsikas1969]