According to Travel and Leisure magazine, Portland ranks as the number one city in America to visit and live during the summertime. It’s a hotspot right not, and the stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) scene in this coastal city is following its lead becoming one of the most popular watersports in the area. And why shouldn’t it be? For coastal cities like Portland that have easy access to the Atlantic as well as many of its harbors and bays, the city and its surrounds are a perfect spot for the sport.
One of the great things about SUP is that is caters to all fitness levels, from those looking for a hardcore workout to those looking for a serene way to enjoy nature. And it has also become easily accessible with rental spots dotting the shorelines of rivers, lakes, and oceans all over Portland. Mac McKeever, spokesperson at L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport, ME, calls SUP “an approachable activity, great for families, friends or the solo spirit.”
Whether you are getting into SUP for the first time or are a seasoned vet BIC SUP’s comprehensive library of instructional videos is a great resource to check out for tips on getting started, techniques for improving your stroke, and thoughts on buying a board. Your local outdoor shops are a great spot to stop in and find out more info on where to go, when to go, and what to buy as well—see our list of recommended shops in your area.
The next time you find yourself in Portland be sure to check out these three great spots for SUP in and around the city:
Located just 15 minutes from downtown Portland, Winslow Park offers a quiet cove with no waves for stand up paddlers to play around. It’s also a great spot to get some close-up views of the ocean’s wildlife, including seals and jellyfish. In conjunction with Seaspray Kayaking and Paddleboading , the Freeport Yoga Company offers SUP yoga classes in Winslow Park if you are looking to add something different to your paddle time on the water. Sixty dollars gets you a class and all the necessary equipment. In addition to SUP the park offers 100 campsites, bathroom facilities, trails, grills, and a playground.
Just to the south of Portland are the beaches in Scarborough, many of which, unlike the usual rocky shorelines in Maine, are white sand beaches. Ferry Beach is particularly attractive to paddle boarders because it sits in a protected inlet offering opportunities to explore its marshes and rivers as well as the Scarborough Harbor and its many lobster boats. This is a great spot for paddlers of all ages and levels.
Located in South Portland, Willard Beach sits right along a shipping channel, however, it is a protected cove, so stand-up paddlers get the benefit of viewing all the incoming and outgoing sailboats and ships without fear of battling their wakes. Because it is in a cove the water remains pretty calm making it a perfect spot for SUP. Another benefit of Willard is the views. Paddlers can see the islands in Casco Bay as well as downtown Portland.
If you are interested in SUP in Portland, one of the best things to do is talk to the experts at local retailers in the area. They will be able to tell you where to go and when, and will get you all the equipment you need. Remember that most of the SUP around here happens on the ocean, so you have to account for the tides as heading out at low-tide can sometimes be a trick. The water can be pretty chilly as well, even in the middle of the hot summer—it is the Atlantic in ME.
Arlberg Ski and Surf Shops 225 US Route 1, Scarborough 207-883-2878 or at the corner of Main Street at West Street, Freeport 207-865-0077
Pop over here if you are looking for a rental, interested in a lesson, or hoping to buy some gear.
Eastern Mountain Sports, 87 Marginal Way, Portland (207) 541-1919
EMS offers a nice selection of SUP gear for sale. They also offer SUP lessons through their EMS School.
Kittery Trading Post (301 US Route 1, 888-587-6246)
A little further south than Portland,the Kittery Trading Post is a perfect spot to check out new boards and SUP gear, or to rent a set-up.
L.L. Bean in Freeport, 57 Main Street, 877-755-2326
Bean’s flagship store is a great place for rentals and lessons and has a wide selection of gear in their retail Bike, Boat and Ski shop. Their Outdoor Discovery School also offers a variety of tours and courses for all levels and ages. You can find everything from SUP courses, trips, and tours to demo and Discovery Days.