SUP, stand-up, paddle, paddle surfing, etc., there are many names for this activity on water that is becoming more and more popular on the waterways of our province. Whether you practice it in a meditative manner on a lake or in a more sporty way on a river and even in white water, SUP offers you a new perspective to see Quebec from the water, and it is great for people of all ages!
Lakes: for contemplative people
With nearly four million lakes in Quebec, we are provided with plenty aquatic playgrounds as soon as the snow starts to melt until the first frost of fall. Nowadays though, what do we see more and more in the midst of canoes, wakeboards, pedal boats and sea-doos? A strange giant surfboard on which the “captain” paddles peacefully wearing shorts or a bikini. It should be said that SUP is one of the easiest water sports to practice. Gliding forward with the sole force of the arms (and abs!), without having to analyze neither the winds nor the currents. If you fall, you just have to be careful to fall far from the board to avoid hurting yourself. And to go back up on the board you just copy the way you get out of an in ground swimming pool. Ultra-stable, the SUP boards used in calm water are usually long, wider and larger than those used in white water.
The majority of Quebec’s lakes and reservoirs are ideal for SUP practice. However, be careful to avoid bodies of water that are frequented by motorboats, since they constantly make waves and currents that are destabilizing for beginners. Among our favorites are the reservoir of the Poisson Blanc in the Laurentians, the Lac Delage near Quebec City, and several lakes in national parks such as Mont-Saint-Bruno, Mont-Orford, Yamaska, Pointe-Taillon or Lake Temiscouata.
Sea and rivers: for people with sea legs
You’ve learned to paddle on a lake near the cottage and now you feel ready to take on the St. Lawrence River? The most beautiful SUP spots are located along the St. Lawrence River. You can start near Montreal, where the waves are not too big and tidal currents are non-existent. You can find SUP courses on the LaSalle side offered by KSF and on the Mille-Iles River (technically not a river but none the less) offered by MontrealSUP. Near Quebec City, a great spot is Beaupor t Bay where courses and rentals are available with La Plage. Other places that are even more beautiful and wild include the Sorel Islands and the Boucherville Islands, especially at sunset when the light shimmers on the surface of the water. Other enjoyable places are the Baie-des-Chaleurs in the Gaspé Peninsula and the Magdalen Islands, where the river takes on a sea-like appearance and the waves can wreak havoc. But our favorite is the Côte-Nord! Think of Tadoussac and of expeditions surrounded by beluga whales. With the company Mer et Monde you can even leave in the middle of the night under the moonlight and paddle with whales to see the sunrise from the water. MA-GIC!
Rivers: for the sporty people
Finally, for those who would like to experience the thrills of white water, but without having to do an Eskimo roll (complete rollover while sitting in a kayak), the SUP is the ideal activity. Start out on a quiet stretch of the river to build up your confidence. Then slowly advance down the current until you meet small swirls. That’s where you learn to rock your board while keeping your balance. So far, so good! Then things will get a bit tougher as you make it through your first class 1 rapids (meaning the ones that form a white ridge at the top of the waves). Bend your legs and keep paddling in order to keep your bearing on the water and before you know it, you are passed them! Oops, maybe we talked to fast and you ended up in the water. But, more frightened than hurt, you will climb back up on your board with the big smile of a winner.
Here in Quebec there are so many beautiful rivers just waiting for the paddle boarders. For example the Rivière Rouge in the Ouatouais, the Missisquoi River in the Eastern Townships, the Saint-Maurice River in Trois-Rivière, the Chateauguay River in the Montérégie or the Métabetchouane, Shipshaw, Ashuapmushuan and Mistassibi rivers in the Saguenay – Lac-St-Jean region.
And finally a few last options to make your paddle board outings even more exciting: try to do SUP-yoga in calm water, take your SUP to go and admire the fireworks at La Ronde or go on a SUP-photo safari and quietly get close to the wildlife that populate the shores of our lakes in Quebec.
By Frédérique Sauvée, outdoor lifestyle contributor
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