One fun activity that has become more popular in recent years, especially on the North Shore, is Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP). With this activity, you stand up on a surfboard-like board and paddle yourself around, like you would in a canoe. It’s a great solo activity as well as a fun one for a group of friends or a family.
It’s a lower impact sport that can be done by many skill levels. You can rent a SUP from various places along the North Shore, and even sign up for a guided SUP tour! This is also an activity where you can purchase the items needed (basically, a board and a paddle) for a more affordable price than most kayaks and canoes. So if you are looking for a long term hobby that you can enjoy while on vacation and continue the fun at home, SUP is one such hobby.
If you go the route of renting a SUP or going on a tour, you will likely be given a solid stand up paddleboard that has a foam interior and a fiberglass exterior. If you purchase a board, you have a choice between a solid board and an inflatable board that is made out of a heavy-duty rubber material that you inflate with a pump. The pros of an inflatable stand up paddleboard is that they tend to be more affordable, and since they deflate, roll up, and can be placed in a carrying case, they are far more portable. They just don’t typically last as long as a solid board.
Purchasing a Stand Up Paddleboard
If you want to purchase a SUP, you are looking to spend between $250-1500. That’s a pretty wide range! I personally purchased my board for $270 on Amazon. If you shop around, you can usually find a pretty good deal. Inflatable boards will typically be cheaper than solid boards. If you purchase an inflatable board, I also recommend picking up an electric pump to go along with it. They usually come with a manual pump, but manually pumping up an inflatable stand up paddleboard can be difficult and time-consuming. Amazon and private brands are a pretty good source of paddleboards, as are sporting good stores like Dicks and REI.
Note that in the State of Minnesota, SUP are considered watercraft, and a license and registration are required for watercraft over 10′ in length. Learn more on the Minnesota DNR website.
Rent a Stand Up Paddleboard
If you just want to try out SUP on your own time, without the commitment to buy one, look into renting a SUP. Many resorts along the North Shore have them available to rent by their guests. You can also rent them from some outfitter in the area. Call around to see if you can reserve one for your trip. The Beach House on Park Point in Duluth also used to rent SUP for $15/hour, however, we aren’t sure if that is happening in the summer of 2020 due to COVID-19. You can contact the Duluth YMCA, who manages the Beach House, to see if this service is still available.
Go on a Guided Stand Up Paddleboard Experience
If you want to learn how to SUP and go on a guided tour, we recommend you check out the following tours on the North Shore:
Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply in Grand Marais: Learn the basics of stand up paddleboarding and then tour the Grand Marais Harbor by SUP. With this tour, you will SUP on Lake Superior with a guide and enjoy the incredible views of Grand Marais from the harbor. Stone Harbor also offers SUP yoga during their annual North Shore Water Festival!
North Shore SUP: Located in Duluth, they offer a variety of SUP tours and packages, as well as Paddle Parties! You can take a Wisconsin Point Light House Paddle, a Full Moon Paddle, or a Minnesota Point Paddle. Plus others! Or sit in on a session of SUP Yoga! That, and more, offered through North Shore SUP.
As Always, Practice Water Safety!
SUPs are considered watercraft in the State of Minnesota. Therefore, it’s the law that you wear or have a lifejacket on the SUP with you when you are using it on Minnesota waters. Of course, we highly recommend you wear your life jacket at all times when on the water. Safety first! When done safely, SUP can be fun for the whole family!