I’m really glad I took some stand up paddle boards [SUPs] to La Ventana Baja with me this year. Although I was really keen on kiteboarding, many days started off with no wind and calm seas ideal for a SUP session. This was a great way to start the day and get an upper body workout. It was also really nice to see the marine life and coast of the La Ventana area from a SUP. Kiteboarding is a very active sport and you just don’t get the same amount of time to quietly observe the area you are in. SUP in the AM is a bit like doing yoga when you get up. It’s athletic, but in a calm meditative sort of way. The other advantage to flatwater SUP is you can take pretty much anyone out and they can learn the basics in 5 mins and have fun. That’s definitely not true of kiteboarding!
There was a 7 day stretch with little to no wind early on during my stay in La Ventana and the SUPs [as well as the Surly Pugsleys] proved critical to keeping occupied and burning some energy while we waited for the wind to return.
As far as flatwater SUP goes the La Ventana area has a lot to offer with mile after mile of coast line to explore. There is also the potential for long downwinders if you are in the mood for more challenge.
On the surfing side of the SUP equation La Ventana doesn’t normally get ocean swell so there isn’t a great surf break there. However, it does get wind driven swell from further North in the Sea of Cortez which does result in some breaks forming from time to time. I didn’t end up surfing at all while in La Ventana. This was largely due to the fact that I had decided not to drive my truck while I was in Baja and none of the breaks that did form where close enough to paddle to. The other consideration that affected my decision was that I didn’t have anyone to learn to surf with so I was a bit leery of tackling that alone and possibly getting injured.
If you are keen to SUP surf in the La Ventana area you certainly can get some surfing in locally and within a 2hr drive there are some excellent surf breaks on the Pacific Ocean side of the Baja, such as at Todo Santos. When the wind looks grim you can load up your truck and head East for a couple days to take advantage of the swell.
Not wanting to end the trip without making some progress towards becoming a SUP surfer I stopped in Santa Barbara, CA to get a lesson from the folks at Stand Up Paddle Sports. I’m really glad I did! I learned soooo much in my time in the water and I really appreciated the trouble I could have have gotten into trying to figure this out on my own. Catching my first real wave was amazing! The acceleration and power behind me was impressive and it felt so smooth and peaceful at the same time. My stoke was brought back to reality when I rode the wave deep inside the area where the waves were breaking and had to battle my way back out with wave after wave crashing over me and my 11′ board. Tumbling underwater, bouncing off rocks and fending off my huge board was quite the ordeal. I sure was glad there was an expert surfer/lifeguard looking out for me and giving me tips on how to work my way back out beyond the breaking zone.
They say that the first ride hooks you for life. I can believe it! Even though I had been worked hard and had to struggle to get back out of the break I was excited and ready to catch my next wave…=-)