The way I see it, in the Galapagos, traveling by Stand-Up Paddleboard (or SUP) is way more entertaining and rewarding than kayaking. While I do like kayaking (I mean, who can argue with the ripped shoulders you get from some serious sea kayaking), SUPs really shine in the Galapagos. I’ll break it down:
1. You can see waaaaay more wildlife! Last August, off San Cristobal Island, I had just been kayaking earlier in the day and didn’t see squat for wildlife in the water – good workout, but the light was flat and I couldn’t see anything that may have been swimming below me. But on a SUP just a few hours later, the water was so turquoise and clear that it looked a bit like I was flying. That vantage point, standing and looking down directly into the water, suddenly cut through the glare and I was able to see sea lions, rays and turtles all darting and gliding below me. At first, I kept thinking that the turtles would get spooked or the sea lions would knock into my board. But instead they either ignored me and went about their business and the sea lions kept jumping up to play with me, then swimming all around me in circles. When snorkeling, you can easily scare a ray or turtle. The sea lions are always playful, but you usually miss seeing them when kayaking. Paddling a SUP provided a totally different way to interact and see the wildlife.
2. It’s EASY! Seriously.
While kayaking seems simple, it’s not entirely intuitive to a lot of people. They don’t know where to put their feet or how to steer or how to coordinate when in a double kayak. Stand-up paddleboards seem to be more natural for beginners to pick up. You see them step on for the first time and they always remark how simple it is – like stepping onto a floating dock, it’s stable and meant to keep you upright. If it starts to get rough or you need a break from standing, sitting or balancing on your knees is all perfectly acceptable too.
Two of Detour’s trips offer SUPing in their itineraries (so far, no other operators are offering this option): the Galapagos Islands Multisport Adventure and the Ultimate Galapagos Adventure. The latter trip is actually much more challenging than the first, though they’re both very adventurous and active. We hope to include these boards on way more trips since they’ve been so rewarding for travelers looking to combine challenging activities with loads of wildlife viewing (you know, the point of going to the Galapagos in the first place!). We’ll be posting more about these new trips as we get them ready!