People would look at Jessica Bellofatto like she had two heads when she started paddleboarding 10 years ago. “But now I can do a headstand on my board and it barely warrants a double take,” says Bellofatto, one of the pioneers of SUP yoga and a BOGA Boards ambassador. Case in point: Five years ago, only 75,000 boards were sold in the United States. By 2011, that number had doubled. Today? It’s hard to pass a body of water that doesn’t offer some kind of SUP-based experience.
The sport has moved from obscurity to part of the scenery because it can be either challenging or relaxing. Adrenaline junkies can battleboard on rapids; endurance athletes can race for miles on open sea; peace seekers can meditate on flat water or under the stars. The sport has its U.S. roots in Hawaii, which still has a robust scene, but with SUP’s rapid growth, these other communities have also made big names for themselves, each for their own reasons.
Best for: Relaxation
Hamptons, New York
How do New Yorkers de-stress and get their SUP fix? Head to Penn Station, hop on the LIRR, take a three-hour nap, wake up in the Hamptons, and rent a board. East Hampton–based Paddle Diva is famous for building female-friendly boards and for its popular Sunset, Stargazing, and Full Moon Paddles, co-hosted by Bellofatto, who brings yoga and meditation to the board. (Since it’s always safety first, participants sport glow sticks or headlamps when the darkness sets in.) The next morning, paddlers can treat themselves to a thalasso tub seawater hydrotherapy massage at Gurney’s Montauk Resort.