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Paddleboarding to a Secret Beach in Florida

Paddleboarding to a Secret Beach in Florida

PaddleboardingDid you know you can paddleboard just about anywhere?

Seriously, all you need is a body of water and a sense of adventure. Heck, you might even be able to paddleboard in someone’s backyard pool! People make it seem like paddleboarding somewhere is hard, but, honestly, it’s not. Today, I am going to share with you how I paddleboarded to one of Florida’s secret beaches.

Paddleboarding is a great way to get outside, get some exercise, spend time with friends, and explore new places. I live in Florida, one of the best places in the United States to own a paddleboard. With countless lakes, awesome rivers, and an endless ocean to explore, I’ll never get bored of paddleboarding.

One last thing, many people think you have to have crazy-good balance to paddleboard, but that’s just not true. Some paddleboards are harder than others to use, but most people can learn how to master one in just a day. Others think that paddleboarding is an expensive hobby and that you need a bunch of gear just to get started. Again, that’s just not true. With a few key essentials, you can go paddleboarding for cheap regularly.

Starting My Day

Here in Florida, it’s hot all year round and it’s hot for most of the day. The only time of day not blazing hot is the early morning. In the morning, when the fog hasn’t cleared and the sun hasn’t fully come up, I like to do relaxing things before it gets too hot. On this Saturday morning, September 2, 2023, I got out of bed and did some stretches to help myself fully wake up.

I went to my favorite coffee shop, Kahwa, which was started and located here in Tampa, Florida. I enjoyed the cool morning by listening to some music and reading a book that I have been wanting to finish for some time. As the sun begins to creep higher and higher, the day starts to get a little warmer, which means it’s time to go paddleboarding in the ocean.

So, I went home, gathered my things, and made my way to St. Petersburg, where my paddleboard was being stored.

Quick note: you can store your paddleboard just about anywhere. If you have a garage that would be perfect. If you have an iSUP, then it can fit easily in the trunk of your car!

Rigging Up My Paddleboard and Getting to the Water

Rigging Up My PaddleboardThis is the part that beginner paddleboarders might struggle with the most. But remember, it’s not that difficult. It just takes the right tools and the right preparation. Before leaving, I double-checked that I had everything I needed packed up in my car.

I drove my old 2007 Subaru Outback to the West side of St. Pete to pick up my board. When I got there, I put the board on top of my car and cinched it down with three straps that tightly secured the board in place. You don’t need any kind of roof rack for a paddleboard, but some cross bars on your car will make it a little easier. That said, if you have an inflatable stand-up paddleboard, you won’t have to do any of this! You will simply have to get where you intend on unloading and inflating your SUP with a hand pump or an electric-powered pump.

2007 Subaru OutbackIt’s important to make sure that when you strap any kind of board to the top of your car it is not going to fly off while you drive. Straps are not super expensive and they are easy to find. You might even have a few friends that might be willing to lend you some for the day.

After that, I picked up a friend to paddleboard with me, and we drove South to Tierra Verde, a small island that is technically still part of St. Pete. When having something strapped to the roof of your car, it’s important to drive safely and not too fast. I found a great place to unload my paddleboard and get in the water but first had some things to do. First things first, we had to make sure my car was going to be fine while we were away paddleboarding. The place where we parked was publicly owned, so there was no issue with leaving my car there for a few hours. I put up a windshield sun shade to keep the inside of my car from overheating and made sure we had all the essentials before we hit the water.

I packed a small waterproof bag with water (lots of water!), my phone, sunscreen, goggles, a snack, and my underwater camera. I also made sure to wear a hat, sunglasses, and a swimsuit.

Outdoor Master sunglassesSpeaking of sunglasses, I have an awesome pair of Outdoor Master sunglasses that protect my eyes from the harsh UVs of the Floridian sun. They fit nicely on my face and they are specifically designed for adventure seekers. It’s crucial to wear sunglasses, especially if you live in a bright place like Florida. I made sure to wear mine while paddleboarding, that way I didn’t have to squint the whole time, and I could fully enjoy the awesome sights.

Getting in the Water and Getting to the Secret Beach

Route of the Secret Beach Florida

Getting in the water and pushing off the shore was a little tricky. I hadn’t paddleboarded in a long time and I had to get used to the mechanics of balancing and paddling at the same time. I reminded myself that all I simply had to do was keep my legs shoulder-width apart and bend my knees. Many people don’t know where to stand on the paddleboard. It’s all about weight distribution. Right in the middle or over the handle is where most people like to stand. That is the most essential part of learning how to stay balanced on a paddleboard.

It took me about 45 minutes to get to the secret beach. Along the way, we saw tons of fish, all sorts of birds, and lots of little crabs crawling on the bottom of the seafloor. The water was pretty shallow since the place we were paddleboarding was in a kind of remote cove tucked away from the wind and waves of the ocean.

me and my paddleboardWe took a small break on a sandbar in the middle of the cove. I could stand in ankle-deep water while drinking my water and eating a little bit of my snack. I made sure to reapply some sunscreen since the sun was so bright (I still got burned!). I also didn’t have to worry about my board floating away with the tide because I had it connected to my ankle with an SUP leash.

getting into the water with ankle leash attched to my SUP boardMy favorite part of the trip was paddling to the beach and watching the wild cormorant birds hunting fish. It was incredible! They gathered around us as we paddled through the water. I noticed that as we were passing over the seaweed which was a few feet under my board, fish and crabs swam away, startled that a large board had just gone over them. The cormorants, who can swim just as fast as a fish, would swim under my board as I paddled, catching fish in their beaks. Many times they would surface with a fish in their beaks before flipping it in the air and swallowing it whole.

Along the way to the secret beach, I was glad I brought a lot of water. We stopped to drink every ten minutes or so because it was just so hot and we needed it. I might have gotten a little sunburned, but at least I was hydrated the entire way! Also, I fell in the water… a lot! But that is all part of the fun of paddleboarding. As I kept going and improving my paddling, I noticed my balance improved too and I fell less.

me paddleboardingAfter paddling for nearly 45 minutes, we finally arrived at the secret beach. Tucked away on Shell Key Preserve, there is an inlet for boats and jet skis to get into the cove where we were paddle boarding. Right beside the inlet, there is a small beach that is perfect for enjoying the sand and waves without having to be around a lot of people.

We beached our paddleboards onto the sand and unloaded our gear to enjoy some time on the beach. There were some small trees on the beach, which gave us the perfect shade to set up the blanket my friend had brought.

View of the secret beach of Florida is stunning!

Meeting Up with Family and Friends

Some of my family members and friends met us at the beach on kayaks and paddleboards they had rented. My nephews and niece were there too and they had a blast trying to master the art of paddleboarding. They fell off a lot, though, but they had fun trying to balance and use the paddle to move.

Meeting up with my family and friends.On the beach, there were lots of horseshoe crabs, which were kind of scary but very cool at the same time. Spending time with family and friends can be an amazing way of relaxing and enjoying the weekend. If you have any family or friends that you want to do fun activities with, this should be something you put on the top of your list. It’s fun, it’s affordable, and you can do it over and over again.

Falling from my paddleboardWe stayed on the beach for a couple of hours, enjoying each other’s company, taking a swim every once in a while, and talking about all the things we saw on the way to the secret beach. It was truly amazing to be there. With no one around we were able to appreciate the serenity of the ocean. We even saw some dolphins in the distance swimming through the water. After some time, we decided it was time to go back to the car but not before exploring the mangrove trees.

Going Home and Exploring the Mangroves

The cove is scattered with tons of little islands made up of sand and mangrove trees. Most are so thick with the trees that there is no way of riding through them, but some have perfect little passageways that allow kayakers and paddleboarders to glide through them with ease. In some parts of the mangroves, the trees were so dense that we had to get on our knees in order to fit through the paths.

We spent some time exploring the inside of the mangrove forests, enjoying the shade they provided, before heading back to shore where we originally started. It took us another 45 minutes to return.

Going homeWe got back to my car and loaded everything up. I was a little sunburned and very tired, but it was worth it. I was able to spend most of my day outside, on the ocean, and with a friend. If paddleboarding can do one thing, it can bring people together to enjoy something special such as visiting a secret beach in Florida. I will definitely be going back soon.

It’s Your Turn Now

Paddleboarding is not an exclusive activity. Whether you know how to or not, you should try it at least once. Even if you can’t swim! But you should definitely wear a life jacket if that is the case. You also do not need to live in a place like Florida to go paddleboarding. The first time I did was on a lake. You can do it anywhere!

I love paddleboarding because it gives me an excuse to get outside and get moving. Some Saturdays are spent inside watching TV and scrolling on Instagram. But I would much rather be outside, in nature, moving my body. Paddleboarding is an excellent exercise.

It’s a full-body workout. All of that balancing and bending your legs is good for your abs and legs, and all that paddling is extremely good for your arms and back muscles. And, in terms of cardio, paddleboarding is great. You can actually burn up to 450 calories per hour.

Lastly, you can paddleboard with your friends and family. I don’t get to see my friends or my family every day and it was nice to be able to spend a few hours with them in the sun.

Are you ready to adventure?
If you are looking to own a paddle board, Outdoor Master has everything you need to get started. Their inflatable stand-up paddle board is perfect because you won’t need to haul it on top of your car like mine. When buying through Outdoor Master, they will make sure you get the entire package. Their paddleboards come with a paddle, an ankle leash, a pump, and even a bag to make sure it all goes together. Outdoor Master also has tons of guides that are useful for beginners and seasoned paddleboarders. So, are you ready to adventure?