The Canarian Archipelago has much in common with that other famous archipelago in the Pacific, the Hawaiian Islands. Both have volcanic landscapes, verdant forests, and thousands of tourists, and decades ago the youth of the Canary Islands adopted the Hawaiian tradition of surfing.
Perhaps the waves aren’t as spectacular as the Pacific ones, but the coast of Tenerife, especially the south and west, with their variety of accommodations from swish hotels to backpackers’ hostels, attract an increasing number of visitors who come to challenge themselves on the ocean. Playa de las Americas is known, not only for its nightlife and family beaches, but for its shorebreaks too. Surfers provide plenty of entertainment for those who prefer to sit and watch along the less pristine of Arona’s beaches.
Recently, another form of Hawaiian surfing has arrived in Europe, and its greatest attraction for the inexperienced is that it can be done on calm waters. This is a blessing for the surf shops and rentals of El Médano – a sport which can be practised on those calm days when windsurfing or kiteboarding aren’t possible. It’s called Stand Up Paddle Board, or SUP for short, and because the participant propels himself with a paddle, he or she isn’t reliant on waves to be able to get out on the water.
Although the history is lost in the mists of Polynesian history, its current popularity can be traced back to around 2005. The Hawaiian name for SUP is Hoe he’e nalu, and it was popularised by surfing legend Laird Hamilton.
Experienced surfers like Hamilton are said to like it because standing gives them a better vantage point for seeing oncoming waves, rather than sitting on a board. The power of the paddle also means that they can get further out to catch the waves, and avoid the “traffic jams” which can occur on popular breaks.
The other side to this new phenomenon is that it can also be done in calm waters, which gives you chance to get your aquatic sense of balance before testing it on waves. Alternatively, a simple glide around a calm bay, like El Médano is a relaxing delight, as I found out a few months back. Not acquiring the necessary balance, I caved and let my son paddle whilst I sat on front of the board, and admired the dramatic Montaña Roja and its surroundings.
Need an added incentive to give SUP a try? It’s said to be a great core workout. For anyone who wants to be fit, but hates the drudgery of a gym, here’s a way to work out and have fun at the same time!
Boards are longer, wider and more buoyant than traditional surf boards, and can be used for racing. In Hawaii they even have inter island racing, so who knows if we may one day see races between Tenerife and La Gomera, or Lanzarote and Fuerteventura!
For now, if you are on vacation in Tenerife, and you want to give SUP a try, maybe on a calm day, you will find several board rental places in El Médano and one in Los Cristianos. It’s reported that in 2013 SUP was the US sport with the most new participants, perhaps 2014 will see it reach the same statistics in Tenerife.
Category : beaches
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