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Sayulita SUP: Stand-up Paddleboarding on Mexico's Pacific Coast.


Article:  John Cawrse
Photos:  Donna Day

sayulita stand up paddleboarding wildmex

Stand Up Paddle in Sayulita or also known as SUP, is a new sport that has caught on quickly around the world and in Sayulita. Stand Up Paddle is actually an ancient form of surfing originating in Hawaii. It re-emerged in the 1960‘s with the growing popularity of surfing. Hawaiian surf instructors would stand on their surfboards, using an outrigger canoe paddle to maneuver, in order to manage large groups of students and to take pictures of them learning to surf. In the early 2000‘s, Stand Up Paddle was made popular again by well-known surfers Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama and others, who were searching for a way to cross-train when the waves were flat. SUP is now called the fastest growing water sport in the world.


sayulita stand up paddle familysyulita stand up paddle logoMy addiction to SUP in Sayulita started on a five-month trip to Sayulita in late 2008. Being surfers, my wife Amy, my young daughter Ava and I were looking for an activity we could do in the water as a family. We had rented one board previously in Bend, Oregon to see if we liked SUP. With that one test, we decided that SUP was the perfect family activity because we could do it together with Ava on the front of one of our boards, it was fun, easy and great exercise.





Get Ready to
SUP Sayulita

Before your vacation:

  • Watch a video or two
  • Sit-ups and push-ups
  • Balancing exercises
  • Pack a hat and rashguard

 Before your lesson:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Apply sunscreen
  • Stretch
  • Wear your hat
  • Bring your rashguard

 Choosing an instructor:

  • Safety
  • Experience
  • Student ratio
  • Equipment quality


  • Rent your own gear
  • Take a tour
  • Ride a wave
  • Enter a contest

 Tours, Schools, and Rentals:

Wildmex: Daytrips, guides, and great begginer instructors.

Pacific Paddle:  Awesome shop with over 100 boards.  Rentals, lessons, and tours.

Get-up Stand-up: Local-owned and operatied with on-beach location.

Stand Up Paddle Mexico:
shop with a huge selection of stand up paddle boards and accessories for rent and sale

sayulita stand up paddle childrenTime to get wet - and wet you will get on your first paddle out. Depending on the size and design of the board and your balance, you may only fall in once or you may fall in over and over again. A lesson will be of great help, teaching you about stance, technique and paddling, along with providing encouragement and support. Choppy water and wind are your enemy.



sayulita peddle boarding kidsEarly morning in Sayulita is a great time to start a paddle south from the main beach in Sayulita, along the edge of the rocks over to Playa de Los Muertos and out to Punta Sayulita. A pair of polarized shades will allow you to see right into the water as you check out rocks, fish and turtles.  Wear a hat and sunscreen; bring water if you can. Plan on getting wet but having a blast. When you have your balance dialed in, try catching a few whitewater waves. Remember, controlling your board is essential to your safety and the safety of the people around you. Being a beginner is not an excuse for running someone over. Being an expert isn’t either. Should you like to give SUP surfing a try, there are many fantastic instructors on the beach who can give you a great lesson.


sayulita paddle boarding lessonsSayulita Bay is the perfect playground for SUP. The talented local surfers have discovered SUP and put on a fantastic show of power and finesse. Cruising outside the break for pleasure and exercise is an easy addiction. Family and friends sharing time together on the water can’t be beat. One of my favorite ways to pass the time is to pop Ava right on the front of my board with her life jacket on; she can lay on her belly and check out the fish, swim over to Amy’s board, or just enjoy the ride while I paddle her around. If she falls off, no problem, she just climbs back on. I have seen five kids all on one board having the time of their lives doing nothing but goofing off.


In just three years, the annual Sayulita Longboard and SUP Classic has become the premier SUP event in Mexico. This year’s event is was held March 9-11, 2012. Don’t miss this fantastic annual show for the whole family. Racing action, surfing action, live music and fantastic spectators; there is something for everyone!

Techniques: On the Water - Paddleboarding Stance

sayulita padddleboarding stanceHere are a few tips to help you keep your balance as you stand upright on the paddleboard:

  • Your feet should be parallel, about hip-width distance apart, centered between the rails (board edges). Don't stand on the rails.
  • Keep toes pointed forward, knees bent and your back straight.
  • Balance with your hips—not your head.
  • Keep your head and shoulders steady and upright, and shift your weight by moving your hips.
  • Your gaze should be level at the horizon. Avoid the temptation to stare at your feet.
  • It's much like bicycling: When your forward momentum increases, your stability increases as well.


sayulita paddle boarding wavesPaddleboarding in Sayulita offers an amazing full body workout. And since you're standing at your full height, you'll enjoy excellent views of everything from sea creatures to what's on the horizon. It's almost like walking on water!

Once you've mastered the basics, there's almost no limit to the watery worlds you can explore in and around Sayulita on your stand up paddleboard. Play in the waves and ocean surf,  or learn new strokes. You might find yourself wanting a narrower, more maneuverable board as you become more adept.

Meanwhile, get out there, enjoy the view and have a great time on your SUP!