Paddleboarding on the Waccamaw River
As an environmentally conscious person, I tout outdoor activities as some of my favorite things to do, but truth be told I don’t get into the great outdoors as often as I’d like. I’ve never been Paddleboarding, and I thought doing so would be a great way to explore the river while trying a new activity.
Karen and I (with our friend Marie) learned some valuable lessons during this adventure:
Beginner’s paddleboards are HUGE. I’m talking 11 ft tall and 2 ft wide. I highly suggest having them delivered, or renting them from a facility near the water.
- If it’s your first time Paddleboarding, you should try a placid body of water instead of the ocean or inlet.
- If you do decide to go to the inlet, make sure you check tide charts (you don’t want to get stuck somewhere during low tide)
- It is a SC state law that paddleboarders are required to have a life jacket and whistle on them at all times. Whoever you rent from should have these things available, but be sure to ask if they don’t automatically give them to you
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the actual experience, which was loads of fun! After getting the paddleboards to the river (thanks to Karen’s lovely husband, Lee) Karen taught Marie and I the process of Paddleboarding. (Karen had been Paddleboarding once before, and will therefore be referred to as “the expert” hence forth.)
Before getting in the water, we each secured our boards to our bodies via a strap that wrapped around our ankles (I’m sure this has a proper name…). The expert explained that we wanted to get on our board when the water was about knee-level, and I was surprised at how easy it was to balance on the board. We began on all fours, finding our center of balance. We then raised to our knees, where we practiced paddling. For a detailed description of how to paddle (with a much better explanation than I could give), check out Isle Surf and Sup’s Paddle Board Beginners Guide.
After practicing paddling for a while, the expert decided we were ready to stand up, although Marie and I weren’t so sure. The trick to standing up is to go verrrryyyyy slowly; once I was up I felt totally confident in my abilities. We paddled for a bit, though I didn’t realize how much of a toll paddleboarding takes on your body (I do know I’m very out of shape, so maybe that’s just me). We were probably on the river about an hour total, which was the perfect amount of time for our first lesson. I’m happy to report that none of us fell!
Paddleboarding offers a great way to explore the Waccamaw beyond boating, and it was nice to slowly pass by the beautiful cypress trees and historic live oaks. Although we didn’t see any this trip, oftentimes the river is full of fascinating wildlife; I’ve seen herons, turtles, and some pretty large fish. It’s very tranquil on the water and it is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of every day life. I highly recommend getting out on the river to relax and enjoy the beautiful landscapes that South Carolina has to offer.
There are numerous locations throughout the grand strand to rent paddle boards; costs vary per location, but average about $20/hr.
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