Water clarity at the serene coastline of Boca Grande offers an ideal location for Stand Up Paddle (SUP) boarding. If you are visiting the island of Boca, consider paddle board rentals or a SUP Guided Tour. There are few safety concerns to aware of when paddle boarding in Boca. Here’s what you need to know.
Location is Key!
Avoid the pass
The tip of the pass in Boca Grande is actually a very dangerous place for beginner paddle boarders. The currents in this area can be extremely strong. During tarpon season there’s also a lot of marine life present at this point of the island. The Boca Grande Pass was featured on shark week this year (2013) for the presence of hammerhead sharks during the tarpon season.Try to avoid this Florida State Park, unless you have advance paddle boarding experience. Even then, stay alert and cautious of currents.
Safer Places to Paddle Board in Boca
The Florida State Parks in Boca Grande are located at several points on the island. The safest points for learning are closer to the middle of the island, there is less current at these locations. However always be cautious as there are no lifeguards on the beaches in Boca Grande. Pay attention to swells when you plan to paddle board in the Gulf of Mexico. It is important to be humble and know your personal skills to fight waves safely.
19th Street on the gulf side is also a safe place for beginner boarders. This is a Lee County public beach location however the parking is limited.
If you are paddling for the first time, try an inshore location on Boca Grande. The Great Calusa Paddling Trail is perfect for learning how to Stand Up Paddle (SUP). The calm waters at 19th Street (inshore) on the island offers a view of East Railroad Ave in Boca Grande from the water! Instruction is always recommended for beginners.
When choosing a location consider the wind direction. Typically on an East wind the Gulf of Mexico is flat an calm which enhances the water clarity. An East wind also pushes you out further from shore. Be shore make sure that you stay very close to the shoreline in this type of wind direction.
On a West wind the gulf coast has larger swells that will build in time, and inshore locations will offer protection from the wind.
Beginners should also pay attention to the wind speed. Typically people are unable to progress after 15 MPH winds. At SUP Englewood, we cancel our tours and rentals at this speed due to safety. However a boarder with advanced experience should be okay up to 20 MPH. Your body will act like a sail in the wind and make it more difficult to turn. In paddle boarding it is important to have board control at all times for your safety on the water.
Always paddle with leash when paddle boarding in the Gulf of Mexico. A straight leash is recommended for this type of waterway. The leash is not just for your protection. Yes, it keeps you close to the board. A leash in a gulf setting is also utilized for the protection of all other beach patrons. Usually little children play in the shoreline and that is exactly where your board will end up if it gets away from you!
U.S. Coast Guard Requirements
The U.S. Coast Guard has declared Stand Up Paddle Boards a vessel. Meaning that anytime you are paddling outside of the swim/surf area or inshore you will need to have a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) and a whistle on your board! Violations are $250 and can be cited by: Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC), the Coast Guard, or the local boating police. When paddling with small children on your board, remember they will need a PFD as well.
When choosing a Stand Up Paddle Board Rental Company there are a few basic things to consider:
- What is their wind policy? Do they even have one?
- Do they provide safety equipment?
- Do they provide any instruction & local knowledge?
SUP Englewood Paddle board Rentals
At SUP Englewood we recommend instruction for all beginners. Our wind limit is 15 MPH. We provide all safety equipment. Please let us know if you have any children as we bring properly fitted vests based on your request. We provide every rental with a 15 min land based safety. This does not include all the information needed to be safe for your first time out on the water. Please come to us for instruction before renting. We will provide you with local knowledge needed for your paddling adventures. Call (941) 234-4311 for paddle board instruction or rentals in Boca Grande.
Do your research and you can enjoy a fabulous time on the water paddle boarding safely in Boca Grande, FL.