Quick Details


Learn the basics of stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) or advance your skills with one of our lessons. Lessons are for a minimum of one person, so they can be private. Santa Barbara is home to ideal paddling conditions, and for newbies, we launch out of the protected Santa Barbara Harbor.

For more advanced paddlers, we typically launch off Leadbetter Beach, Goleta Beach, or Hendry’s Beach depending on the type of lesson and skill level of the paddler. All of our instructors are CPR/First-Aid certified, passionate about paddling, and excited to share their wealth of knowledge with you. Our SUP instructor school is certified by the Academy of Surfing Instructors.

Paddle Sports Center co-founder, Fraser Kersey is an ASI Instructor Trainer, teaching instructors and students alike.

History of Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

Back in the 1960s, the roots of paddle boarding were first introduced by some of the Waikiki Beach Boys: Duke Kahanamoku, Rabbit Kekai, and a few others. They would use longboards and paddles to get out to the surf, quickly. This evolved into instructors taking photos of their clients out on the water. Who doesn’t like seeing their own personal evolution?

These instructors found the easiest way to teach through photography was on a stable large longboard using a long outrigger canoe paddle. The evolution of surfboard technology through the ’70s pushed away from the first paddle boarders from this culture.

Modern SUP was born in the late ’90s. Laird Hamilton is known as reintroducing the sport back into the mainstream when he began to actively turn the old teaching methods into training when the surf was low. A certain idea appeared. Why can’t we as watermen enjoy the ocean through other means? Why don’t we catch more waves on the stoke that our surfing ancestor created?

We all have a duty to bring positive energy into the ocean. The sport of stand-up paddle boarding has grown into a community of like-minded individuals, focused on fun times, health, and ocean stewardship.

  • Chevron down SUP Level 1 - Intro to Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
  • Minimum Age: 12 years old

    Environment & Safety
    • Understand the enclosed flatwater environment
    • Identify SUP personal hazards
    • Identify SUP location hazards
    • Choose a safe SUP location
    • Identify self-rescue techniques and when to apply them
    • Apply correct SUP flatwater etiquette
    • Identify how to care for the enclosed flatwater SUP environment
    Equipment & Clothing
    • Choose a suitable flatwater board, leash, and equipment
    Paddle Skills
    • Enter and exit the water correctly
    • Paddle in standing and kneeling position with balance and confidence
    • Identify correct paddling technique – 3 Ps – Position, Posture, Paddle
    • Identify the 5 phases of the paddling stroke
    • Demonstrate the correct method to change direction
    • Demonstrate turning – back paddling left and right
    • Demonstrate how to stop, safe wipe-out and dismount
    • Understand how to perform a pivot turn
  • Chevron down SUP Level 2 - Intro to Surf Zones and Open Ocean Paddling
  • Minimum Age: 16 years old

    Environment & Safety
    • Identify surface water movement and current direction
    • Identify wind direction and strength
    • Identify SUP hazards
    • Choose a safe SUP exposed waters location
    • Identify self-rescue techniques and when to apply them
    • Apply SUP etiquette at exposed waters locations
    Equipment & Clothing
    • Choose a suitable exposed waters board, leash, and equipment
    Paddle Skills
    • Identify safe entry and exit points
    • Identify techniques to negotiate shore-breaks up to 1½ ft
    • Identify paddling technique and stance used in choppy waters
    • Fall and retrieve techniques in uneven waters and wind
    • Identify techniques to negotiate swell
    Demonstrate turns in exposed waters
    • Back paddling (right & left side)
    • Sweep stroke
    Identify how to perform in exposed waters
    • Step back pivot turn (heel side & toeside)
    • Kahi stroke & reverse Kahi stroke
  • Chevron down SUP Level 3 - SUP Surfing, Distance + Downwinders
  • Minimum Age: 18 years old

    Environment & Safety
    • Understand the surf environment
    • Identify SUP surf hazards
    • Choose a safe SUP location
    • Demonstrate correct wipe-out and mount/dismount
    • Demonstrate correct SUP etiquette
    Equipment & Clothing
    • Choose suitable SUP surfing board and equipment
    Paddle Skills
    • Identify safe places to enter and exit the surf
    • Negotiate waves
    • Correct paddling technique and stance
    • Catch and ride waves
    Perform SUP surf maneuvers
    • Trim (backhand & forehand)
    • Perform intermediate SUP surf maneuvers
    • Fade
    • Stall
    • Bottom turn
    • Top turn
    • Cutback
    • Link and perform maneuvers on backhand and forehand, with correct use of paddle