I love travelling, and Covid-19 took almost all of it away. Although I’ve learnt sea sports like windsurfing and sailing, both were too a bit too physically strenuous for me to continue. Hence my husband and I took up stand up paddling, or SUP for short, as an alternative way to go ‘overseas’.
After multiple trips ‘overseas’, I feel ready to share my SUP journey here on this travel blog.
What is stand up paddling?
It’s a watersport where you stand up on a paddle board, and use a paddle to row on either side of the board (my own words).
You can either use a hard board, or an inflatable stand up paddle board (iSUP).
Where can I learn stand up paddling in Singapore?
We took a course by PAssion WaVe @ East Coast that’s pretty affordable (it was like $50-60+?).
The 2-hour course was straightforward and you’ll learn the basics such as:
- parts of the stand up paddle board,
- how to paddle correctly,
- how to launch on the board,
- how to climb on the board if you capsize,
- how to stand up,
- how to U-turn,
- how to land,
- how to care for your board and paddle.
You’ll get a card like the one below after completing your course.
Other places to learn SUP include The Stand Up Paddling School and Ola Beach Club. You can check out this article by The Soothe for a detailed list.
Renting or buying gear for your stand up paddling
You can either rent a board from PAssion Wave ($18 an hour) or from several companies that rent boards and organise outings (see The Soothe’s article above).
In our case, we decided to buy inflatable stand up paddle board sets from Carousell that cost around $300 a set.
Each set came with:
- an inflatable stand up paddle board,
- a manual pump,
- a paddle that can be dismantled into three shorter parts,
- a leash,
- a fin,
- a bag to store everything,
- and a repair kit.
You can also get iSUPs from Decathlon, however the board sizes are smaller than what I could find on Carousell, and you need to top up for basic gear (while the sets on Carousell already included the basic gear).
Other essentials that I use for my stand up paddle outings include:
- life jacket – I bought mine on EZbuy for just above $10. Get the ones with buckles which can tighten based on your body size, and not the cheaper jackets with the tie-on straps as they’re a hassle to untie.
- water bottle with carabiner – to attach to the bungee cords at the front of the paddle board
- waterproof bag with carabiner – to store your handphone, money, cards etc.
- gloves (optional) – I usually use my old diving gloves which have a good grip on the paddle
- hat/cap and sunglasses – as it can get hot and sunny
- appropriate attire – I usually use long pants and rash guard, with a neck scarf to avoid getting sunburnt
- booties – I prefer booties as I don’t like getting sand in my slippers when I launch and land
- food – and a plastic bag to take along the used food packaging
At home, I also have booties hangers which make it easier to hang them up to dry.
I’ve found epoxy glue to be useful too when the fastener of my paddle detached when the original glue broke off.
Where can I do stand up paddling in Singapore?
There are several beaches you can launch from, according to seasoned SUPpers, and they’re in the East, South and North parts of Singapore.
- East Coast Park Beach
- Pasir Ris Beach
- Changi Beach
- Punggol Beach
- Sembawang Park Beach
- Sentosa Island Beaches – Siloso Beach, Palawan Beach and Tanjong Beach
You can’t stand up paddle in reservoirs.
According to MPA, pleasure craft (I’m guessing this applies to SUPs too) are prohibited from these areas:
- A Jurong Island
- B Pulau Busing and Pulau Bukom
- C Pulau Sebarok and Shell SBM
- D Sembawang Wharves and approaches
- E Cafhi Jetty
- F Changi Naval Base
- G Selat Sengkir
- H Pulau Satumu (Raffles Lighthouse)
- I Southern Islands (Pulau Sudong, Pulau Pawai and Pulau Senang)
- J Tuas Naval Base
- K West Johor Straits from 2nd Link to Sarimbun adjacent to SAFTI Live firing area
- L Chek Jawa Wetlands
- M Ferry terminals and Piers (Changi Point Ferry Terminal, Changi Ferry Terminal, Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, Marina South Pier and West Coast Pier)
- N Tuas Explosive Jetty
- O All Port Marine Notice (PMN) working areas
What can stand up paddlers see by launching from each beach?
I haven’t been to all the beaches yet, so here’s what I’ve experienced. I’ll update along the way as I visit more beaches.
East Coast Park Beach
You can see lots of ships and other watersports, and a view of East Coast Park from the vantage point of the sea. Waves tend to be larger. Note the demarcated area for water sports and the no-go area from this graphic posted on the bulletin board at PAssion WaVe @ East Coast.
Pasir Ris Beach
The usual place to launch is the beach near Ohana Beach House. Carpark E is the nearest but it’s paid, and you can get free parking at Carpark F which is just up the hill.
I like this beach because you can turn left and paddle to Coney Island and Punggol Beach, or turn right and paddle towards the mangroves and to Changi side. The more experienced SUPpers paddle to Pulau Ubin from this beach too (or they launch from Punggol Beach).
Take note of the jellyfish in the waters, and don’t paddle too near to the shore as you could get entangled in a fishing line. Sometimes the weather and waves can get a bit overwhelming especially if a storm is coming.
Please wear booties if you’re worried about random fish hooks hidden in the sand, and avoid paddling too close to fishing lines.
Sembawang Park Beach
This little strip of beach at Sembawang Park sees SUPpers (and kayakers) launching in the direction of the mangroves. You can see JB and the industrial park of Pasir Gudang on the other side of the Johor Straits.
Water tends to be blackish or dark green (on good days). Lots of rubbish at some parts of the shore.
There are two rivers leading into the mangroves (on Street Directory they’re called ‘Reservoir Bongsu’ and ‘Sungei Khatib’) which are best visited during high tide. I’ve also seen jellyfish especially in Reservoir Bongsu hence please be careful and don’t just jump into the water. Bird-watchers will love this area.
The beach at the mouth of Reservoir Bongsu seems to be a popular spot to take a break. However, just a hundred meters or so along the beach in the direction back towards Sembawang Park, there are several stray dogs which are protective of their territory and will bark at you if you SUP too closely to the beach.
Sometimes I’ve seen kayakers beach at Seletar Beach (near the red star in the above graphic). Whether we’re allowed to beach on Seletar Beach, I’ve heard (unverified) that we should bring our identity cards along in case we’re questioned by the Coast Guard why we’re at the island.
You can continue to SUP all the way down Southeast until you see Yishun dam and the Seletar Aerospace Park.
On weekends and public holidays, there are more wakeboarders in this area hence the waters may be more choppy. Mobile reception is spotty and you may get Malaysia telcom signal instead of Singapore.
Sentosa Island Beaches
My personal favourite is Palawan Beach for newbies to get used to standing up in super calm waters (paddle to the calm area between the Southernmost Point Island and the Palawan Beach).
The public toilet and showers are near the entrance and the beach carpark is relatively near the check-in point (compared to other carparks).
For lagoons with red buoys, I was informed that you’re only allowed to paddle within the lagoon (e.g. Palawan Beach). For lagoons with white buoys (e.g. Siloso Beach), SUPpers can launch from the beach and paddle past the white buoys out of the lagoon.
Newbies to SUP should stay within the blue barrels, and avoid the Sentosa Cove area where currents are stronger.
The currents at sea (further out of the lagoons) can be strong, and there have been incidences of capsized kayaks at the blue barrels, hence try to stay near the lagoons if you’re not sure.
What should I prepare when I stand up paddle?
I usually check the NEA weather website to gauge whether it’ll rain or not. A friend also shared this website tides4fishing.com to check the tides, tidal coefficient (high means bigger waves), wind direction, and other elements to expect. Another possible website for tidal and weather information is TidesChart (e.g. for Sentosa).
If in doubt, go with a partner, or if alone, have your safety gear ready and a mobile phone, and let someone know where you’re going and when. You can also sign up for outings from reputable SUP providers.
There are several communities of SUPpers that you can get more information and guidance from. For example, if you’ve gotten your certification from PAssion WaVe @ East Coast, you can join Stand Up Paddle (SUP) IG @ East Coast WhatsApp chat group.
I’ve found YouTube videos on Stand Up Paddling (both in Singapore and overseas) useful as well, such as getting an idea of what SUPping in mangroves near Sembawang Park is like, or how to paddle more efficiently.
Some emergency numbers (besides 999 for police and 995 for SCDF Emergency Services) I’ve found online are:
- Sentosa: For emergencies, call the Ranger Station at 1800-RANGERS (726 4377), 24 hours
- Police Coast Guard: +65 6377 5539 / 6377 5540
What else you should know about this article
I’m a newbie at SUP and there are so many things I have yet to learn.
This article is based on my experiences and what I read online, it may not be 100% accurate as I find that quite a lot of things about SUP are based on personal experience and context of the situation then, like things do change (such as Safe Management Measures, beach closures, rules and regulations about beach landings etc).
If there are any important information or updates I should add in or amend in this article to be factually correct, please do share via adding a comment below.
Thank you for reading this article and I hope it helps you on your SUP journey!
Read about my SUP experience in Tokyo here.