Northern Michigan Standup Paddle Boarding: 5 Things You Didn’t Know

MyNorth’s Adrienne Roberts swings into a standup paddle boarding shop and learns that this once-obscure sport is becoming an increasingly popular activity. If you’re new to the sport, check out this guide to the best spots to standup paddle board and where to find rentals.


As you’re laying at one of the many scenic beaches in Northern Michigan, calmly reading your book or catching some rays, you may have noticed an odd sight: people, usually donned in wetsuits or swimsuits, balancing on a surfboard, holding a paddle, and, well, having a good time doing so. Weird, right? Well, think again. As one of Michigan’s most outdoor-loving towns, you can bet that standup paddle boarding in Traverse City is on the rise.

We chat with John McNeil, owner of Wet Mitten Surf Shop to get the scoop on this rapidly-growing sport. Here are his five little-known facts about the sport.

  1. The sport has actually been around for hundred of years! Standup paddle boarding may have ancient roots in Hawaii but it has just become more popular in recent times.
  2. Just about anyone can do it. We can put a 75-year-old on a board and a 5-year-old can do it, too.
  3. River paddling is really fun! I love paddling the Platte River and the Boardman River. I think this is the most fun style of paddling.
  4. There’s board for everything now: there’s a tandem board, a surf board, a racing board, an all-around board, plus many more.
  5. The sport has branched out in a lot of ways. People are going out with blow-up boards and going down steep rapids out in Utah and Colorado.

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