When you travel to a warmer climate near the beach, and you’re looking for a new adventure that isn’t too taxing, but gives you a sense of freedom, a Stand Up Paddle Board(SUP) Tour is an excellent choice. Standing on a SUP may be the closest you’ll be to walking on water. It can be such a calming experience on flat water, or an adventure if you want to ride some waves.
You can paddle around islands, see fish and other wildlife close up, or just lay back and let the gentle waves take you on a ride.
In almost every country that has water access, there are companies who can take you on amazing tours. They’ll know the best spots to see, the calmest waters for beginners, and know the limits of someone new to the sport. Many companies also offer lessons before you go out, to ensure you can paddle properly and understand your board.
So how do you know the best company to book a tour with? What should you look for in a tour company? Here are 5 tips to help you find the best tour possible, so you can enjoy an amazing SUP adventure.
1. A higher price doesn’t mean better service.
Just because one tour company is priced higher than another doesn’t mean the service is better. Other factors like closeness to large hotels and direct tourist access can make a company raise its prices. Don’t exclude a company because its cheaper. Go by ratings, reviews and your own feelings on it. You don’t always have to pay the highest to get the best.
2. Find a tour that accommodates your travel needs.
If you’re staying at a resort and have no car, its important to find a tour company that will pick you up. You don’t want to navigate unknown roads and public transportation to a tour pickup. If the company doesn’t offer pickup at your hotel, talk to your hotel concierge and see if the hotel can arrange direct transport to and from your desired tour’s pickup.
3. Make sure they tell you where they start the tour.
Sometimes you cannot just assume that the tour’s office address is where you meet to start the tour. Normally this is just their office in the city, and the tour may start at a beach entrance or a well known hotel. If your tour booking details/confirmation doesn’t have a start location, be sure to ask.
4. Take the general consensus of reviews, don’t rely on specific ones.
Online reviews are a great way to find real people’s thoughts on any topic including tours. People are now accustomed to submitting reviews online based on their experiences, and these are sometimes the most accurate and useful explanation of the service. But in saying that, you should also take them as a whole and don’t form your opinion based on a single review. Some people experience things differently and some have outrageous expectations of services, and when just one of those expectations are not met, they think it was the worst disaster. So if you read a number of great reviews of a tour company, but find one scathing one, don’t base your decision on that one, as they are not the average reviewer.
5. Pick a tour that suits your skill level.
While using a Stand Up Paddle Board is very easy, if you’re brand new to the sport sometimes you may need some time to find your balance. If you’ve never been on a board before, you may not want to jump into a 3 hour island tour, but rather a shorter harbor tour would be more your style. Make sure you choose the best sounding tour based on your experience. You can also look for SUP Tour Operators that have lessons before a tour, or book a lesson for one day, and a tour the following day, to get your balance and technique first. Many tour companies offer this sort of scheduling, so make sure you ask.
6. Have a backup tour plan.
Sometimes things happen that cannot be controlled. Weather, localized striking and staff illness are some of the causes of tours being canceled or postponed, and normally there is nothing you can do about it. If you’re in an area for only a short amount of time, a one-day delay may mean not being able to take the tour. This is why we recommend having a backup tour company in mind. While you’re doing your research, and you choose the company you want to go with, keep the next best in mind. Find our their info on the tours provided, and bring that company’s contact info on your trip with you. That way, in case of a tour company canceling on you, you do have a second choice ready to go and you can still enjoy a SUP tour.
When you’ve picked out the tour operator you want to go with, and have confirmed the price and the availability of the date(s) you want, there are a few more questions you may want to ask if they aren’t covered, to ensure you have the best trip possible:
- How long have you been giving these tours?
- Is there anything not included?
- What location do we start and end the trip? How do I get there and back?
- How long is the tour itself?
- Who will the tour guides be and how long have they been running SUP tours?
- What is the cancellation policy if I cancel?
- What is the weather policy if it is storming on that day?