• Michelle Starr

Thousands of years of Paddleboarding


I am a bit of a history nerd, to me the rabbit holes of history are fascinating, and I love the holy crap that’s where that came from moments. Now I know most of you have zero interest in history but guess what. I don’t care, I am here to plant seeds of knowledge in ways that trigger aha moments and inspiration. Afterall, humans’ nature is to learn and grow. This week Ya all get a little history lesson in the organs of paddleboarding.

My first experience with paddleboarding was when I first came to work for Glass Bottom Rentals. We were hanging out at the shop, and I obviously wanted to learn to paddleboard. I chose the wrong time for my first time, lots of people to laugh at me, slippery hands from just putting on sunblock and the board Aaron had me on was more of a small cargo ship. I got on the big orange board with anxiety taking over my brain and with my slippery hands I attempted to paddle around the cove. That attempt was short lived, not that I failed or fell but I knew it had to be a bit easier without an audience or a paddle covered in sunblock. But that experience kind of makes me think of what it was like thousands of years ago when paddleboarding began.



Paddleboarding is believed to originated in ancient Egypt around 3000BC with small boats called tups that were made up of bundled reed. In Chan Chan a Peruvian city fisherman also used reeds and bamboo as a paddle also dating back about 3000 years ago. As you can imagine these boards where very long, and not designed to cut through the water making them very difficult to maneuver. What I use today to paddle on has come a long way from the floating reeds thanks to surfing. In the 1700s captain James cook sailed into the Hawaiian Islands to see the Polynesian people riding the large pacific waves on carved boards and canoes. The chief always had the largest board which could be up to five meters so the villagers would sometimes use a paddle. Fast Forward to the 1940s and the Hawaiian surf instructors known as the beach boy surfers would take long boards with paddles out a little further to sea so that they could have a better view of the people surfing. In 2003 Brian Keaulana ended up adding ‘Beach Boy Surfing’ to a world-renowned surfing competition and it gained immediate attention and interest from other pro surfers. SUP was brought to California in 2004 and that is when the sport really began to take off along with rapid improvement in SUP board technology. Today there are many different styles of boards. There are boards designed to surf, boards to race, boards to tour on, boards to fish on and boards for yoga practice. There are even some pretty good inflatable boards on the market and that was something that I never thought I would say.



It’s been about three years since I began to paddleboard and being a guide, I spend nearly every morning paddling the Gasparilla Sound and I am in love with it. I know that I have spent my life doing sports that trained my mind and body to do very well at the balance thing, and water sports have always come naturally to be, but I can confidently say that with the new technology nearly anyone can come out try one of our boards and be able to ride it! We have people of all ages and skill level come out get a quick lesson from Aaron and then be able to spend their day paddleboarding around the sound! So don’t be shy, come on down and try this ancient sport and have some fun!! You never know it just may become your next outdoor activity obsession. Florida is a state where its necessary to spend your days on the water!


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