Hwy. 1: Stand up (and fall down), a paddleboarding adventure

Road Journals Blog—While reporting my feature on Hwy. 1 for AAA.com/via, I stopped at the Half Moon Bay Kayak Co. in Pillar Point Harbor. While they specialize in kayaking (as the name suggests), they are also at the forefront of the newly popular sport of standup paddleboarding.

Picture a giant surfboard, a paddle, you, and the open seas.


Our intrepid author takes to the water.

When I first tried this on flat water, it was surprisingly easy. I floundered a bit when trying to get onto the board, but once I was there there the platform provided a solid foundation. As I paddled forward, the sensation was almost like walking on water—just going for a stroll into the ocean. As with riding a bicycle, I found it much easier to balance when in motion, and learned to alternate steady strokes to the left and right of the board.

Practicing in the harbor provides sheltered safety, although learning to maneuver around moored boats can be a challenge.

In the open water of the ocean, of course, there are waves. Experienced paddleboarders combine the talents of kayaking and surfing to catch and ride waves in to shore, cutting a commanding presence as they flow along the water. My own presence out there probably looked more like a sea lion trying to ride a bicycle on land.

Still, I’m told that with a few tips and a lot of practice, a person can paddle through the surf like a creature of the sea. With perseverance and some luck, you can start to ride small waves with some regularity after a day of practice—but leave the large stuff to the experts.

Bill Fink wrote about Hwy. 1, from Pacifica to Santa Cruz, for AAA.com/via.

This blog post was first published in February 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.