©istockphoto/GibsonPicturesPad­dling in win­ter isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re ready to brave the cold there are some pret­ty spec­tac­u­lar spots to SUP amongst the ice. Check out these win­ter won­der­lands that can only be found on the water.

Vladi­vos­tok, Russia
The smooth waters of Vladi­vos­tok are extreme­ly invit­ing to pad­dle­board­ers all year long. When win­ter rolls around sheets of ice can be found float­ing all around the bay. If you’re lucky, you might even find a seal or two loung­ing on top of them. The area is brim­ming with sea­side caves and lagoons to explore along with plen­ty of waves along Sable Bay. Be sure to go through the waters of Shkot Island for some pret­ty impres­sive views, or hang around Labor Bay to explore the sunken shipwrecks.

Lake Michi­gan
Lake Michi­gan might not have the tow­er­ing glac­i­ers of the oth­er mem­bers of this list, but the seem­ing­ly end­less sheets of ice that dis­ap­pear into the dis­tance have a beau­ty all their own. Dur­ing the right time you can find plen­ty of paths to trav­el across the water and, if you’re lucky, even some ice caves to explore along the shores. The Great Lakes are home to some of the country’s most scenic spots that are only enhanced when the snow falls.

Glac­i­er Grey Tor­res del Paine, Chile
Unsur­pris­ing­ly, Patag­o­nia har­bors one of the most breath­tak­ing places on Earth for stand up pad­dle­board­ing. The mam­moth-sized glac­i­ers in Glac­i­er Grey Tor­res del Paine in Chile are strik­ing­ly tall and some of the deep­est blue you’ll ever set eyes upon. The waters here reach sub­ze­ro temps in the win­ter, so do your best not to fall in. The ice tends to shift at times mak­ing a vis­it poten­tial­ly treach­er­ous, but you’ll be fine if you keep your wits about you. Many of the glac­i­ers here sit right up against the moun­tains along the shore­line, mak­ing for an awe­some juxtaposition.

Seward, Alas­ka
Alas­ka is a dream­scape of out­door adven­ture with more moun­tains, trails, lakes, rivers, and waves than you could ever explore in a life­time. Seward is often at the cen­ter of the great­est Alaskan adven­tures thanks to its rugged land­scape and trea­sure trove of out­door pur­suits with­in a short dis­tance. It’s also hard to get to, mak­ing it the per­fect place for pad­dle­board­ers who want a lit­tle peace and qui­et. Bear Glac­i­er in Kenai Fjords Nation­al Park is one of the state’s largest ice for­ma­tions with a twelve-mile ice tongue sur­round­ed by epic salt­wa­ter lagoons. The sur­face is teem­ing with ice­bergs to oar through and requires a good deal of experience.

Glac­i­er Lagoon, Iceland
Glac­i­er Lagoon off the south­ern coast of Ice­land is one of the world’s most stun­ning nat­ur­al won­ders. Glac­i­ers, ice­bergs, and water­falls dot the shore­line for miles mak­ing it a spec­ta­cle for any­one look­ing for a unique place for SUP. You can take a tour or set out on your own and push your oar through sheets of icy water around float­ing bergs and water­falls with 60-meter drops. There are even some great views of the Eyjaf­jal­la­jökull volcano.


Nobody is get­ting younger. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for you and I, that includes us. For every friend who is pad­dling well past retire­ment age—and I even have a friend who’s pad­dled water­falls in his 80s—and I have anoth­er who is com­plain­ing about how pad­dling is now tough on his back, shoul­ders, or some oth­er joint. How can we set our­selves up for long and endur­ing careers on the water?

Pro­tect Your Back
Pad­dling is hard on the back. As we age and become less flex­i­ble, sit­ting for long hours in the kayak­ing posi­tion gets hard­er, and we have less flex­i­bil­i­ty to rotate. That means mak­ing sure you’re doing a good job warm­ing up, stretch­ing, and head­ing to the gym to restore lost flex­i­bil­i­ty ear­ly and often. As I’ve aged, I’ve become a lot more picky about my kayak out­fit­ting and seat posi­tion. When we can’t rotate far enough on our strokes, we tend to com­pen­sate by reach­ing with our arms, and that will not help you.

Pro­tect Your Shoulders
Shoul­ders, along with backs, are the main area for pad­dling injuries. Instruc­tors use a vari­ety of tech­niques to get pad­dlers to keep their shoul­ders intact, rang­ing from the “paddler’s box” to teach­ing stu­dents to roll hold­ing a sponge between the elbow and the torso.

The main thing to focus on is to avoid reach­ing, and instead focus on mov­ing the legs, hips and tor­so to keep your shoul­ders in a pro­tect­ed posi­tion. Phys­i­cal ther­a­pists and med­ical pro­fes­sion­als can help you devel­op strength in the small mus­cles that sta­bi­lize the shoul­ders. Over my pad­dling career, my pad­dles seem to get short­er with each one that I buy. A short­er pad­dle reduces the lever­age on your soft tis­sues, espe­cial­ly if you’re using a large blade with a stiff mate­r­i­al like car­bon fiber.

Don’t Squeeze The Paddle
Now that we’re talk­ing pad­dles, grip it light­ly. A clenched grip will only result in arm fatigue, and even­tu­al­ly, elbow tendonitis.


Free Your Hips and Your Mind Will Follow
Sit­ting in a kayak for long hours will stretch the ham­strings and com­press the hip flex­ors. Work hard to off­set that effect by stretch­ing the front of your core. Find com­pli­men­ta­ry stretch­es and work­outs that off­set the mus­cle imbal­ances that can come from too much time in that position.

Warm Up and Stretch
As we age, we lose flex­i­bil­i­ty and resilien­cy— I have to stretch much more reli­gious­ly and slow­ly than I did when I was younger. Remem­ber: don’t stretch while you’re cold: a fac­tor to keep in mind when you’re pad­dling in the win­ter, and when you have a bunch of boats to get down to the water after you’ve been sit­ting stiffly in a car for an hour.

Be Care­ful on Land
Most pad­dling acci­dents don’t hap­pen on the water—they hap­pen on land. Hoist­ing kayaks off trucks, car­ry­ing boats or gear over slip­pery rocks and load­ing cool­ers on and off rafts are the places you’re most like­ly to hurt your­self far more than a big surf zone. Take your time and watch your step.

Train for the Long Trip
As a 20-some­thing, I could dive into a big trip with lit­tle train­ing or prepa­ra­tion. As I’ve got­ten old­er, I’ve learned that I need to train, ramp up and build my endurance more. Give your­self a reg­i­men. If you haven’t spent much time in your boat, give your body time to adjust, and then start to build up the miles. As rac­ers do, let your­self taper off a bit just before the trip.

Don’t Be Macho
“It’s just a flesh wound” brushoff of a lit­tle pain didn’t work for The Black Knight in Mon­ty Python and the Holy Grail. It won’t work for us as we age either. We need more time to heal from “minor” tweaks. Don’t push your return to the water too fast.