Surfing SUP and Downwind Paddleboard Cruising
Paddleboarding, or stand up paddling (SUP), has become the hottest new sport on the water, and now is the fastest growing paddle sport in the United States.
The sport has recently been revived from its roots in Hawaii by surfing legend Laird Hamilton, and has taken the paddle and surfing world by storm. Paddleboading is a hybrid between surfing and paddling sports; the boards are high tech, light surfboards of a traditional longboard design, used with a canoe-style paddle of 5-6 feet in length.
Paddleboarding is Part of the Package
Paddleboarding at our island is not available without purchasing one of our Belize travel packages. Our island is located far out to sea, which is one of the reasons it is such a fabulous place; we experience none of the crowding found in other parts of Belize. There is no way to visit our island only for the day, a 5-night package (3 nights on the island) is our minimum as our private boat charter only goes to and from the island two days a week. Packages include hotels and meals in Belize City before and after the trip, transport to and from the island, accommodations and meals on the island, soda and beer on the island, and windsurf and other sports gear and instruction. We specialize in Belize multisport trips; we aren’t just a SUP resort! For a complete summary of all the sea sports we offer, visit our adventure sports page.
Each sport has a mandatory orientation session where we introduce our gear to you. Once you have had the orientation session, you are free to use the gear anytime you like, as long as you have a buddy. The buddy system is different for each sport, and that’s explained during the orientation. For example, a buddy while paddleboarding is someone paddling with you, but a buddy while windsurfing is a person on shore paying attention to your location and notifying us if you need assistance. During scheduled activities, guides are on hand monitoring your progress and a buddy may not be necessary, since the guide is effectively your buddy.
[photo credit at top of page: Cully Erdman]
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“We LOVED every second of the trip and the only thing we would change was to do the whole week instead of first half, we weren’t ready to leave! The food was outstanding and all the staff were so friendly. Our lead guide Mark was awesome, his lectures in the evening were very informative and fun. He made sure to accommodate the activities we wanted to make sure we could do them in the time frame we were there, specifically SUP to south caye, wasn’t originally on the agenda for the day but he made it happen. But what I really liked was the pace set by the crew. You could do as much or as little as you wanted and even doing all activities you had down time in between, which made the days seem longer.
Thank you so much for providing my family with this incredibly memorable experience. We have traveled to many tropical locations but this is by far the best. Way better than any fancy resort!!”Bethany Cutts
Experience the Thrill of Paddleboarding
From Beginner to Surfing
Our location at Long Caye is perfect for paddleboards, where our calm lagoon is perfect for learning the easy skills necessary to control a board.
Paddlers can then try out our nearby surf break, which has perfect waves for beginners to learn the dynamics of catching waves, making cuts to traverse the wave face, and practicing recoveries. The great appeal of paddleboards is that it makes surfing easy, anyone can now experience the rush of surfing a wave on a real, stand up board. Their large size and stability, combined with the speed of using a paddle, lets anyone catch waves and ride the break.
Our boards and paddles are late model designs, and our guides offer instruction in the sport. Due to our ideal location and climate for the sport, paddleboarding has already become one of the most popular activities we offer.
Long Caye enjoys the only surf break in Belize that is both accessible and safe (not breaking over live coral). There are many places throughout Belize where the swells break on the barrier reefs and outside reefs of the atolls, and undoubtedly there are other nicely formed point breaks at various channels through the reef, but any such breaks are a long boat ride from inhabited areas or (usually) are breaking on live coral which has sharp points and ‘heads’ that make for unsafe conditions.
Our point break is almost always active at the end of the ring reef where the channel entrance intercepts the swells driven by Caribbean trade winds. The swells break on the end of this reef as it opens to form the channel between Long Caye and a neighboring island, and peel off to the right in long, running breaks that can go for several hundred yards. The bottom topography under this break is eroded coral rubble, with no live or sharp coral faces, creating a safe (but hard) bottom surface for the inevitable wipe-outs and swims.
If you want world-class, immaculately groomed long fetch overhead barrels – you should consider a destination such as Tavarua or the Mentawais. However, if you’re a paddleboard surfer planning to go to Glovers Atoll for the reefs and kayaking, windsurfing, etc. – you also might be rewarded with some very fun, uncrowded tropical surf.
Although our wave is perfect for surf kayaks and paddleboards, including beginners, it is not ideal for first timers on a regular surf board. This is due to the nature of falls (headfirst) that inevitably occur on a surfboard vs. a paddleboard or kayak. The shallow shoals that create the surf wave are composed of coral rubble, not sand. Beginners start out on surf kayaks, then move on to paddleboarding before trying out our surfboards. Beginners in all three sports wear helmets when surfing our wave.
Our wave is a right hand break which starts out in 8-12 feet of water, getting progressively shallower the longer the ride, ending in about 3 feet depth. Moderate to steep on the initial drop, there can also be a slight reform where one needs to cutback to make a second section where the wave walls up again with a fun, punchy, fast, inner section. Because of the shallowness of the break, this wave is not recommended for first time beginners as there is the risk of falling off the board wrong and hitting the bottom. However there is little risk of being “pounded” by the wave inside because it loses most of its force in the shallow water.
Swell in the winter is almost always near/moderate fetch trade-wind-driven waves. The Trades blow a near constant 10-15 knots (or more), so often times surfable wave conditions also have “onshore” wind and chop It’s a rare day to have super glassy conditions – although it does happen.
Also, because of the reef the wave is very consistent; it’s common to have a 4-6 foot face on the initial drop. Rides of 50 yards are possible on good days when it’s connecting. This is a very uncrowded break, so except for having to share with our other guests, you can catch all the waves you want!
Downwind Paddleboard Cruising
Stand up paddleboards are also an excellent way to explore the atoll’s lagoon and even to visit other islands. Many paddlers have started taking long distance tours on paddleboards. We have a fleet of ‘cruiser’ boards in our collection, in addition to the boards commonly used in surf. The cruiser style is designed for longer paddling tours to cover more distance efficiently. Our newest activity is to paddle downwind to neighboring islands. We will then be picked up by our motor skiff for the ride back to Long Caye.
What Time of Year is Best for Paddleboarding?
Good waves can be found all year, it depends on the weather out to sea which creates the swells that form the best waves. Winter and spring are windy seasons and Long Caye will usually see a good break of four feet or higher during this time, but occasionally the seas do flatten out for a few days at a time. December through March may be the best time to plan for waves, though we have had flat spells during these months as well. Last season, even the month of May had decent surf for 3 out of 4 weeks.
Please remember, there is no way to predict the surf for a specific date!
10′, 11′, and 12′ Bic Soft Tops
10′ Whopper ASAP by Starboard
9’2″, 10′, and 10’6″, custom boards
Versa by Liquid Logic
10′ Mana by Naish
Cruisers (touring paddleboards):
12’6” Pau Hana Crossfit
12’ Bombora by Jimmy Lewis
12’6″ Glide AST by Naish
11′ Wing by Bic
What Do Paddleboarders Need to Bring?
Booties are required to wear at all times in the water. Our list of Slickrock gear on the Adventure Island at Glover’s Reef info sheet (you can request this document to be mailed or emailed to you) includes a discussion of booties. Paddleboarders should bring booties that are thin enough to allow for mobility on the board, yet thick enough to buffer the rock/coral from harming their feet. Some booties made specifically for diving are big and too cumbersome for surfing.