A yoga class on a stand-up paddleboard can really improve your balance.

Not all San Marcos-based water activities involve legs leisurely dangled over an inner tube. In fact, the latest water craze involves swimsuit-clad adventures standing on top of what looks like a large surfboard while slowly skimming over the water. Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUPing, is San Marcos’ latest water-sports craze—and for a good reason. Not only is it a fun way to spend time on the water, but it’s an intense, full-body workout. For first-timers, SUPing can be intimidating. But don’t fear, San Marcos is an excellent place to get started.


For your first time, you may want to borrow gear from a friend to try the sport out before committing to purchasing your own equipment. Outfitters in San Marcos such as Paddle SMTX rent equipment for the day. To get started, you will need a paddleboard with a leash, a paddle, and a life jacket.

For a beginner, it’s good to start with a board that's at least 30 inches wide. The wide board gives you plenty of room to stand and is steadier than a narrower board. The paddle should be four to seven inches taller than your height. Lighter paddles help reduce hand fatigue.

Outfitter employees can help you determine which board and paddle are right for you.

Where to Go

For your first time paddleboarding, you will want to head to calm water. In San Marcos, the upper San Marcos river might be the best place for beginners to put in their paddleboard.

Luke Adamson, owner of Paddle SMTX, says “the Upper San Marcos is a great place because there is little to no current to push you around, and the water is at its most beautiful in this area.”

Standing Up

Once you’re comfortable on a stand-up paddleboard, you might want some company. 

Standing up on a paddleboard is the most intimidating part of the whole process. Balance is key, according to Adamson. Don't’ worry—it’s easier than it looks!

Here are a few tips:

  • To get on, place one knee on each side of the board just behind the center of the board.

  • Hold the paddle out straight directly in front of your knees.

  • Keep your finger spread wide while you hold onto each side of the board to stabilize it.

  • Move one foot at a time to place your feet where your knees were.

  • Do not stand up in one motion. Instead, lift from your chest while keeping your knees bent.

  • Use your paddle to help you balance.

  • Bend your legs slightly, place the blade in the water and Viola you are paddleboarding!

Staying Balanced

Now that you are up, you want to stay up, so balance is key here. To help stay balanced on the board, position your feet so they are parallel, about hip-width distance apart. Keep your toes pointed forward, your knees slightly bent and always direct your gaze towards the horizon. If you need to shift your weight, do so by moving your hips.

How to Paddle

Take a SUP Glow Night Tours to see San Marcos in a whole new way. 

Once you are upright on your paddleboard and feeling balanced, it’s time to go:

  • Place one hand on the grip of your paddle and the other on the shaft.

  • Put the paddle in the water two feet forward with the bend in the paddle pointing behind you.

  • Push the blade under the surface, then move the paddle back through the water to your ankle, then out of the water.

  • Keep your arms straight. Think of your arms and paddle shaft as a side to an equilateral triangle.

  • To move in a straight line, you’ll need to alternate strokes on either side of the board.

  • Paddle with your core by twisting your torso as you paddle from side to side.

If you are still hesitant to try on your one, book a tour with companies like Paddle SMTX. “We provide hands-on instruction from certified paddleboard instructors who are with you the entirety of your paddle. We will get you up in no time,” says Adamson.

Once you have mastered the art of stand-up paddleboarding, you can move on to other challenges like paddleboard yoga. Or take a nighttime ride on one of Paddle SMTX’s SUP Glow Night Tours. The boards are equipped with waterproof LED lights that create a glowing platform that takes you down the river. It’s a memorable experience that’s a great way to enjoy the water in a new way.

Once you’re comfortable on a stand-up paddleboard, you can take on stronger river rapids, push the pace, and have a lot of fun. So don’t be intimidated—it won’t be long before you find out why this is one of the fastest growing water sports in the country.

Written by Jennifer Simonson for RootsRated Media in partnership with San Marcos CVB.