You won't find a more historic paddling town than Honolulu. Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing, the beach boy lifestyle and, some would say, SUP itself, called this place home. That's some serious street cred.
First populated by canoe-sailing Polynesians, surfing and paddling has long been part of Honolulu's lifeblood. Centuries later, there's good reason it's still present today: There's something for every paddler. It helps that the city is literally on the beach. Travelers from around the world mingle with locals, renting boards for a first surf session or SUP paddle, getting sunburnt or just splashing around. But, offshore is where the real goods are: miles of reefs create some of the most iconic surf in the world. There are soft waves and steep waves, fun waves and serious waves, local waves and tourist waves.
If you're not into the surf, you can find sanctuary with SUP enthusiasts of all stripes enjoying the divided water lanes at Ala Moana Beach Park: first-timers, interval-training pros and everything in between.
When the trades kick in, a world-famous downwind run starts in Hawaii Kai and shoots 7.5-miles to Kaimana Beach on the leeward side of Diamond Head. Hawaii Kai is also where the most famous open-ocean race in the world, Molokai 2 Oahu, ends.
And that's just the stuff around town. The North Shore of Oahu, only an hour away from the heart of Honolulu, is the most famous stretch of surf in the world. The west side is rugged, dry and beautiful. The east, windward side of the island is lush, beautiful and home to fantastic beaches for boating, snorkeling, fishing and, of course, paddling.
Honolulu is standup paddling's mecca: Every paddler needs to visit at least once. —WT
This article was originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of SUP Magazine.