Birthday Treat: Mangrove Paddle Boarding (SUP Experience)

people sitting on a paddle board

Birthdays are my thang.

As a family, we don’t celebrate holidays. None at all. Well, maybe we’ll occasionally celebrate New Year’s Eve, since it’s pretty neutral and fun overall. But, if you think about it, it’s still a made-up date for the overall population. Since Israel celebrates a totally different date for New Year, most Asian countries have their own version as well.

Birthdays are the only true New Year for yourself and can be treated as a major holiday.

Fun fact (or boring fact – depending on how you look at it) I don’t celebrate birthdays with huge crowds and fireworks. I did until I turned 21 years old. Then, before getting married, I preferred to celebrate them on my own.

So basically, anyone who has a shot of celebrating birthdays with me, means they are extra special. (Too bad my kids and hubby don’t think it’s an extra special treat for them).

SUP! Or, better known as Stand Up Paddle Boarding in the mangroves, was what I gifted myself and my somewhat reluctant family for my birthday.

In other words, they didn’t have a choice.

Being that it was my birthday I got to chose what I wanted. That’s the beauty of birthdays you get to decide what you want to do and enlist the whole family, or your chosen ones, to come along and they cannot say NO.

This year, I chose the beach. For the past two years every trip, regardless if it was my bday or theirs, has been around my men’s picks which always had something to do with rock climbing. Since I do NOT climb, I found it hard to treat myself in succumbing to their first choice once again.

I did have one requirement, though. My oldest, a raging teenager, had to enjoy himself no matter what. My little guy still goes with the flow, as long as it’s fun and active. And my hubby, well, he knows by keeping me happy he’ll be happy as well!

Water Sports – What Options Do I Have?

Having a name like Marina, people automatically believe I love anything to do with water (marine). On the contrary, I am completely out of my element when I do water sports or anything with water.

paddle boarding between mangroves

Our trip was to the Pacific Coast to stay at Paredon Beach in Guatemala. Paredon is known as one of the best surf spots and a volcanic beach area that is now exploding with activities and tourism.

My husband and sons have tried surfing several times. It definitely isn’t their element. They gave it shot, and had valid reasons why they didn’t want to do it again.

people doing paddle boarding ina mangrove

Six years ago, my youngest son’s best friend had a surf birthday party. And my son seemed to really love it. So we used to go to the beach two times a month, it’s about 3 hours from our house. And living in Guatemala surf lessons and rentals are less than $15 for one hour for a private class, I jumped on the opportunity as much as possible. But that died down when climbing became the most important part of their life.

With my new outlook on life and wanting to try anything that I once feared, I truly considered taking surfing lessons. But once we arrived at the beach, there was no way I was going near the choppy, erratic ocean.

I did attempt a quick boogie board ride, but that was it, quick and proving to me, even though I was ready to step out of my comfort zone, the real fear of drowning won over.

So the best cross point of water sports, nature and something my entire family can do was Stand Up Paddle Boarding.

Stand Up Mangrove Paddle Boarding

For over ten years I was a travel agent helping families organize trips to Costa Rica. We lived in Costa Rica for seven years and experienced pretty much what most of the country had to offer.

people and a dog getting ready for mangrove paddleboarding

Except for stand-up paddleboarding.

I had a ton of people asking for this, since I never tried it, I always dismissed it as something boring and not too stable. That’s when I was also way too closed-minded.

But with my options limited to either surfing, boogie boarding, fishing (which I don’t enjoy at all) or horseback riding on the beach (something we’ve done way too many times and are totally over it), Stand Up Mangrove Paddle Boarding was literally the last option on the table.

8:00 am on the day of my birthday, Sean, the owner, and guide, with his beautiful dog, Marley, arrived with smiles and excitement. The dog alone got my entire family totally on board for the adventure ahead.

We each got a board and a paddle and were told to hop on.

Being the fearful, least adventurous in the family, I was the very last one to do the ‘stand-up’ part of the paddleboarding.

And that was OK!

Baby steps.

Unexpected Magic of Mangrove Paddle Boarding – Exploring Nature

Being one with nature is a joke we say sometimes, especially when you need to pee and can’t find a bathroom.

One thing I definitely wasn’t expecting was how close and fully tuned and part of the mangroves we actually were. There were moments that the estuary alleyways were less than 5 feet wide, just enough for our boards to float through, with the mangroves covering us like umbrellas at every turn.

Words can’t describe what we felt and saw and smelled.

We had the place to ourselves.

Not only was I given the gift of nature, but the best gift of all was connecting with my family on my day.

How Much Cost a Mangrove Paddle Boarding Tour?

This sounds so dreamy. A private, SUP tour floating through mangroves. Being the only ones on Earth for a few glorious hours. A guide with his furry creature showing us around and bringing us into this magical kingdom.

But you know what, it was $60 for 3 hours for the whole family, including the boards.

Sometimes things feel and seem to be more out of reach than they really are. Don’t let that STORY stop you from enjoying life.


Last Updated on September 13, 2023

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