As a family, we love to try new things. During our big trip, we’ve tried our hand at snorkeling, horseback riding in Mexico, and even taking Mexican cooking classes in Puerto Vallarta. While in Mexico, we decided to try Puerto Vallarta paddle boarding, something that was completely new to us.
We partnered with Xiutla Riders to do paddle board lessons. It was such a blast, and I have to say, I’m officially hooked. Even my kids enjoyed their time riding on the paddle board with us. I foresee us doing a stand up paddle board rental the next time we’re in a destination with water activities.
This post was last updated on May 25, 2020.
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What is stand up paddle boarding?
Stand up paddle boarding is a relatively new water sport, with a bit of a muddled history. But its roots trace back many millennia. Historical records depict people in Egypt, Polynesia, even Peru, standing up and paddling on various forms of floating crafts. Even in Hawaii, the birthplace of surfing, surfers sometimes used paddles when they surfed on the waves.
But the actual sport of stand up paddle board, where riders stand on extra large surf boards and paddle across bodies of water, was invented in 2001. That was when surfer, Laird Hamilton, created a paddle that was designed for paddling while standing up on a surf board. Thus began the sport of paddle boarding.
Since then, paddle boarding has grown in popularity, due in part to how easy it is to learn. These days, the boards are much larger and heavier than surf boards, to provide a bit more stability in the water. Beginner paddle board lessons abound, in destinations all around the world with any proximity to water. And here in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta paddle boarding is just one of many locations you can do this sport in the country.
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Where to do Puerto Vallarta paddle boarding
My husband and I have always been interested in taking paddle board lessons. For me, surfing was always a sport I wanted to try, but the thought of crashing on big waves often scared me. So stand up paddle boarding seemed like a happy medium.
While in Puerto Vallarta, my husband and I decided to take advantage of the availability of water sports, and try out some Puerto Vallarta paddle boarding lessons. There are a few places in Puerto Vallarta that provide lessons for beginner paddle board enthusiasts. However, we decided to go with a company called Xiutla Riders for our paddle board lessons. They offer beginner paddle board lessons for $36 per person.
Taking Puerto Vallarta paddle boarding lessons with Xiutla Riders
Part of our philosophy as responsible travelers is to support locally owned companies. Xiutla Riders is a locally-owned adventure tour company based in Puerto Vallarta. Their store is located just a block away from Playa Camarones, north of the Malecon, Puerto Vallarta’s main beach walkway. Owner, Fernando, runs the company with the help of his family.
When we came for our Puerto Vallarta paddle boarding lesson, we were met by Fernando’s son, Juan Carlos, and his cousin, Diego. Juan Carlos gave us a quick lesson on how to stand up and sit down on the board, as well as a few pointers on how to stay balanced while out on the water. Then we were off, paddling in the water, with Diego leading the way on his board!
Our Puerto Vallarta paddle boarding tour was about two hours long. We spent the time paddling back and forth along the beach, about twenty meters from the shore. Since our kids are too small to navigate their own boards, we had them ride on our boards.
Being a novice to stand up paddle boarding, I was initially nervous about falling in the water. But after a few minutes of standing and paddling, I was feeling pretty confident on my board. I didn’t even fall off once, unlike my husband, who fell in the water several times!
Puerto Vallarta paddle boarding tips
Taking lessons together as a family is a great family bonding activity for your travels. Stand up paddle boarding is actually not too hard to pick up. And kids will love it because it gets you out in the water.
If you’re interested in trying out paddle boarding in Puerto Vallarta, here are a few Puerto Vallarta paddle boarding tips to get you out on your board confidently!
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1: Focus on keeping your balance
The key to stand up paddle boarding is balance. You need to maintain your balance on the board, or else you’ll fall in the water. The waters around Puerto Vallarta are relatively calm, but you’ll still need to watch out for strong waves that may knock you over. Certain times of the day will have much calmer water than other times.
Pay attention to where you’re seated on the board, to make sure the weight is not too much on one side of the board. If you’re paddle boarding with a child, have them sit at the front of the board, and adjust your position so that the weight is evenly distributed. If you’re doing a paddle board lesson, your guide can help you find the perfect position on the board.
2: Keep your feet and body facing forward
For beginner paddle board riders, it’s important to keep your feet and body facing forward. This goes back to the tip on maintaining balance. A slight shift in your feet, or a quick turn of your head can cause you to lose your balance and fall off your board!
3: Slow and steady is okay
If you’re still learning to paddle board, it’s helpful to take it slow. Like the tortoise from the story of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady is okay. During your beginner paddle board session, take your time when you’re paddling. Rushing or paddling fast could throw you off balance and increase your risk of falling off. Enjoy the calm of gliding across the water.
4: Have the kids wear life vests
One of the most important things when you’re doing beginner paddle board lessons is water safety. For the kids, this means having them wear child size life vests. Even if your kids are strong swimmers, life vests will help them stay afloat if they fall off the board.
In Puerto Vallarta, a few of the water sports shops will let you rent life vests for your kids. We got ours from Mango Beach Club. Xiutla Riders does not have kid-sized life vests on hand, but will help get one for you if you ask ahead of your lesson.
5: Fall away from the board
Speaking of falling, one of the beginner paddle board tips that Juan Carlos shared with us during our Puerto Vallarta paddle boarding lesson and tour was how to fall off the board. To avoid injury, it’s important to fall away from the board, and not on the board.
The paddle boards are heavy, and in the water, they can get jostled around when you fall off. If you feel yourself falling, remember to move your body away from the board to keep yourself from getting hurt. Also remind your kids to do the same.
Explore other activities you can do as a family in the Mexican state of Jalisco here.
Lessons, stand up paddle board rental, and more with Xiutla Riders
We enjoyed our time with Xiutla Riders so much that we came back a few days later to do more Puerto Vallarta paddle boarding on our own. Xiutla Riders offers stand up paddle board rental for one hour at $12 per hour, per board. You can also rent a paddle board for the whole day at $45 per board.
Besides offering paddle board lessons and stand up paddle board rental, Xiutla Riders also offers surfing lessons. And for those interested in land activities, Xiutla Riders offers ATV tours. In addition, Xiutla Riders does hourly or all-day bike rentals, ranging from $4 to $28, depending on the length of the rental.
Enjoying paddle boarding in Puerto Vallarta
I’m so glad we took the time to learn how to paddle board. We’re now completely hooked. For me, it’s just another way to enjoy being out in the water and to stay active with the family!
Have you tried your hand at beginner paddle board lessons? Share your experience in the comments!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. We received a free beginner paddle board lesson from Xiutla Riders in exchange for this blog post. However, the opinions in this post are completely my own.
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We paddled for the first time in Marco Island, FL and the whole family loved it. I agree, I’m hooked too!
It’s such a fun family activity to do, isn’t it?
Wow Astrid, what a great family-friendly activity. I’d love to try it even though I have awful balance. I think my kids would be better than me! Avidly, following your adventures around Central America!
Aw, thank you Kirsty! Don’t worry, my husband and kids fell a lot, and they actually didn’t mind getting in the water. Of course, if the water’s cold, that’s a different story … 🙂
This is so good to read. I have alwasy been curious about paddle boarding. Seems like something fun to try.
Thanks Aditi! It’s a really fun activity to try as a family.
My mom loves to SUP in Hawaii! I haven’t been brave enough to try it yet, but it looks super fun!
Your mom sounds so cool! You should try it sometime!
I have heard great things about paddle boarding. I have read that it is an excellent workout. I want to try it sometime.
It really is a good workout, mainly because the balancing requires you to have good core and leg strength. But the paddling also works your arm muscles too!
We were just in Puerto Vallarta and I wish we had time to paddle board. It looks so fun!
It was a lot of fun. We loved it!
Looks so fun, and such a great idea to start them young! I recently tried paddle boarding in the Cayman Islands, and yeah it did not go well.
Oh no! I hope you are okay, though!
This looks like a whole lot of fun!
Yes, this was so much fun!