Canada Great Outdoors

Standing Up on a Paddle Board (SUP) in Ontario’s Explorer’s Edge

“Just stand up,” our guide told us. “Stand up?” I thought, “That’s crazy!” The chorus of that song from South Pacific came on inside my head…”Sit down, you’re rocking the boat!” But in this case, that “boat” was essentially a modified surfboard that was floating on the Muskoka River in northern Ontario’s Explorer’s Edge Region.

Our guide explains the paddle boards

I’m usually one to push myself, but the notion that you’d stand up on an already very unstable board sitting in the middle of water was sheer lunacy to me! After all, if you lost your balance, you’d find yourself in the river  and I was already having a rough day after learning that morning that Mountain Biking was definitely not for me…

And we get a demonstration on paddling techniqjue

But our guide stood up, indicating the method of first crouching and then slowly standing. Then other bloggers in my group stood up (they included Anita from Travel Destination Bucket List, Red from Red Hunt Travel, Jill from Jack and Jill Travel the World and Lisa from Girl About the Globe). Finally it was my turn and boy, was it nerve-racking!

Red stands up!

I held my breath as my knees rose but finally, I was standing…and I couldn’t believe it! I dipped my long paddle in the water and propelled myself along. This was Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP), the latest new craze in water sports. And as our guide from Muskoka Outfitters put it, SUP is quite the upper body workout!

Lisa and I paddling along the Muskoka River

“Don’t make any sudden movements” we were warned. Sharp turns of your body could shift your center of gravity and tip the board, leaving you in the chilly water! At least I had on a “personal flotation device” (more commonly known as a life jacket), but I was determined not to get wet!

Clearly I was in a groove as I’m smiling away!

We paddled our way up river, which felt like an eternity. My forearms were killing me and I was starting to feel the paddling in my abs. But on we went for what felt like 30 minutes at least!

Just around a bend, our guide turned around, leading us back to the dock. “You won’t believe how quickly we’ll get back,” he told us. And he was right! Now that we were heading down river, it took all of 5 minutes or so to get back to where we started! I was pretty flabbergasted by what a difference going with the current instead of against it made!

The paddle board “boarding zone”

Back on dry land I felt very accomplished. Nobody had fallen in and I’d broadened my horizons by trying something new….something I might even do again sometime! By the time we stopped for the night at the Hidden Valley Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, we were all in the mood for a nice celebratory dinner (which the hotel’s restaurant and its fun waiter/bartender happily helped us with).

Boat on a Lake
A boat along the dock behind the hotel

Perhaps most impressive about our remote location was that, here we were, a mere 2 hours of north of Toronto and on the right night, one can see the Northern Lights! Alas, there was no activity on the night we were there, but we spent a good long while gazing up at the night sky in all its glory from the dock on the lake out back, where, earlier in the day, a family of groundhogs put on a little show for us!

The groundhogs put on a real show for us!

Still though, it was pretty hard to believe that after two hours of driving we were in a totally different world, where adventure seemed to be around every corner! “Explorer’s Edge,” indeed in the great Canadian wilderness!

Note: Though my experience in Explorer’s Edge was graciously hosted by Ontario Tourism and Explorer’s Edge, all opinions expressed here are my own. Photos 1-6 courtesy of Explorer’s Edge.  


By Aaron

Hey there! I'm Aaron and this is my travel site, where I document my adventures to all corners of the world. My love for travel started at the ripe old age of four, when a midlife crisis uprooted my family to Ecuador for five years. Since then, I've been to countries on 4 different continents. When I'm not blissfully on the road, I reside in New York City, where I become the ultimate travel junkie and spend my days dreaming up my next great adventure! Read More...

6 replies on “Standing Up on a Paddle Board (SUP) in Ontario’s Explorer’s Edge”

You are so funny Aaron …. you were a pro! Loads of fun to share the various adventures with you in Muskoka and Algonquin. Great groundhog shot…love the second guy that popped up on top. Hope to go on more adventures with you down the track! Maybe a winter excursion…bring on the skis and dog sleds!

I might call myself “Adventurous(ness)” but inside I’m a bit more cautious than this blog may lead you to believe… 😛

And I agree! It WAS loads of fun to share adventures with you in Explorer’s Edge (say for the mountain biking debacle)! I sure hope there will be a winter excursion! Dog sledding and maybe, just maybe, a glimpse at those northern lights??

When I first started paddleboarding I was soooo nervous, I am a klutz on solid ground, never mind on a board floating on the water. But, like you said, it didn’t take long before I started to have so much fun with it. Now a few years later I have my own board and try to get out on the water whenever I can, it’s a fantastic total body exercise.

I’m a total klutz on solid ground (in fact, I have a running joke with a good blogger friend of mine about how we’re the “clumsy travelers!”) so you can only imagine my fear of standing up on an unstable board! Though with your own board, I can’t imagine you need to hit the gym at all! What a workout!

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