Go to Hawaii. I'm not kidding. Stop whatever you're doing and go to Hawaii. Ann and I went to Hawaii, more specifically Oahu, for the first time and we're going back. SUP rentals are available along Waikiki beach, which has calm stretches, sections with slow roller waves, and reefs where waves with faces crest and break.
Adding to our domestic bliss, we lucked into a corner room with two balconies at the Doubletree on Ala Moana, snorkeled twice at Hanauma Bay, cruised into the clouds on the Pali Highway, chanced upon the Kalapawai Market in Kailua and its wonderful waffle breakfasts, had a great time at Chief's Luau in Waimanalo, hiked to the top of Diamond Head, and circumnavigated the eastern half of the island from Haleiwa (home of Clark Little's gallery) to Kahuku (for garlic shrimp at Giovanni's Original White Shrimp Truck) and back to Honolulu via the Likelike Highway. And that's just the tip of the shave iceberg. Everywhere on the island there was a lot of aloha.
My salt water standup paddling experience had been limited to cruising beyond the breaks in San Diego, along the coast of Martha's Vineyard, and gliding downwind through the cut from Eustasia Sound to North Sound off Virgin Gorda. For me, not being able to surf was like racing a sailboat without a spinnaker. Or like having an asterisk after my name. (*Flat water only.) That had to change.
Enter Ohana Surf Project (www.ohanasurfproject.com), a mobile lessons operation that teaches in the breaks off Queens Beach. The staff is friendly, knowledgable and professional. I learned more from my lesson with Chelsea Lewis and owner Sean Anderson than I ever would have by DIY'ing it. The lesson started with me catching waves on my knees and by the end paddling into them standing up. Full disclosure: I was not carving down the face of overhead waves. I was getting acquainted with small waves that nonetheless provided the surge and sensation of gliding fast over water. And now I'm hooked. Make that stoked. I see the future, and it's coming in waves.
Check out these links:
Hanauma Bay http://hanaumabaystatepark.com
Kalapawi Market http://www.kalapawaimarket.com
Chief's Luau http://www.chiefsluau.com
Clark Little https://clarklittlephotography.com
Giovanni's Shrimp Truck http://www.giovannisshrimptruck.com