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An Ancient Hawaiian Sport Surfs Into Bend


Since going to Hawaii a few months ago, I was dying to try stand up paddle surfing along a serene Maui beach. With one rental car, a short window of time, and conflicting activity schedules within my travel group, my stand up paddle dreams were crushed. Flash forward to being home in Bend again and I’m finally able to check this activity off my life list. Stand up paddle boarding has found its way from the isles of Hawaii to the middle of Central Oregon.

The Visit Bend team met up with Mike and Tom from Sun Country Toursone of few companies in Bend offering both instruction and paddle board rentals—on a warm July evening in River Bend Park in the Old Mill District along the Deschutes River. Mike and Tom were paddle pros with years of experience in the ocean on typical surf and paddle surf style boards. The biggest question looming in the back of my mind was “how hard is this?”

We carried the boards to the river’s edge, kicked off our flip flops and slipped into the water. With my paddle straddling my board, I immediately hopped up and began to paddle my way upstream towards the Farewell Bend Park bridge. The on-the-water instruction and advice provided by Mike and Tom came in handy when we hit strong currents under the bridge, which left us working up a sweat and going no where fast. Best advice of the day: stay close to the edge of the river where the current isn’t as strong.

Once we arrived at a placid area along the Deschutes River, Tom showed me some advanced tricks and tips for paddle surfing on the ocean. Then, it was time to head back down stream which was much less of a work out and gave me some time to perfect my surf skills.

The sport of stand up paddle surfing is definitely a relaxing way to blow off some steam, burn off my lunch, commune with nature, and stay cool on hot summer day in Bend.

Tip: Sun Country Tours offers inflatable paddle board rentals that are incredibly stable and rigid. You can collapse them into a vehicle and hit a high Cascade Lake for some paddling. No roof racks or tie straps required.

Tip: Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe offers special fitness classes (with personal trainers) every Tuesday from their river front location in the Old Mill District.

Tip: Good enough to race? Join the race series August 6-8, 2010 at Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe

Tip: I highly recommend it to anyone of all ages and skill levels. It’s really much easier than it seems. Wondering what to wear? Bring your life vest (if you have your own or one will be provided by Sun Country Tours), water shoes or shoes you don’t care about if you toss them to shore, and board shorts over your swimsuit. Leave your sunglasses behind or get one of those cords.

Happy paddling!

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