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Photo: Greg Panas

North American SUP Destination: Jupiter, Florida

Jupiter is on the mainland but it feels like an island town. The people who grew up here have this laid back way of life. They eat, breath and live in the water. If there's a swell, everything shuts down.

We're all in this water life together. That's what makes it such a great paddling town. There's definitely a sense of community, a sense that we're all connected. You don't hear trash talk out in the water. We inspire each other to become better paddlers. All the great athletes that have come out of this town—like Giorgio and Izzi Gomez and Ryan Helm—help with the local grom teams. It's the only town I know of that has three different SUP shops that all get along and help each other thrive and prosper. We all carry different brands and work with different athletes to make it work.

I guess at the root of all this, we get to paddle year-round. The water's warm and it's aqua blue. You can SUP surf, paddle distance on the ocean or the intracoastal waterway and our SUP Yoga community is huge (we do five classes a week). We can drive to the Loxahatchee River for freshwater paddling, plus there's amazing fishing off the paddleboard. There are all kinds of areas to explore.

And as one of Florida's oldest towns, the downtown has had a chance to grow into what we like to call, "a funky fishing village." The Square Grouper Tiki Bar overlooking the lighthouse is iconic. Guanabanas—which specializes in Latin Caribbean cuisine—really supports the local surf and SUP communities. They bring in amazing bands and we host a lot of our awards ceremonies there after events. For the paddlers who are serious about training, 3 Natives does these acai bowls and juices for pre-workout fuel in the mornings. It's a casual vibe. You can go surf and then grab a bite to eat in boardshorts.

But here's the ultimate testament to the Jupiter community: Surfers for Autism is our biggest event and it's the only town I've heard of that has a Special Olympics SUP team. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.
Kim Depasquale founded Paddleboard Orlando but has been Blueline Surf and Paddle Company's "Fun Facilitator" since 2010.

This article originally ran in our Summer 2014 Issue as part of the "Paddle Town Battle" feature.

The Paddle Town Battle was simple in concept: pick the best standup towns in North America and let you, dear readers, vote to decide the ultimate SUP city on our Facebook page.

But what makes a good place to live and paddle? Is it access to the water? Is it a nice place to live? Is it the people? We debated. There were so many questions to answer that we formed categories: proximity to types of paddling (ocean surfing, whitewater, flatwater, downwind, river surfing), community (races, shops, people), off-the-water amenities (breweries, eateries, yoga studios) and influence (what role this place has played in the sport). Then you spoke loudly and proudly. You told us why your town or city was the best place to be a standup paddler. In the end, the people of Puerto Rico rallied around beautiful and diverse Rincón to put it at the top of the bracket. We let the locals tell you why their town made our Top 10.

More North American SUP destinations here.
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