Both are awesome venues for SUP and suitable locations for any ability level. We recommend that families with younger kids and those with any trepidation about falling in go to the lake, which is much warmer. While the harbor is certainly more scenic and requires less travel, the water is colder and you will likely want to wear a wetsuit. We DO NOT take you into waves or surf, preferring to stay in calmer, more sheltered water near shore.
When is the best time of day to go?
The best times are usually early morning or evening. Although warmer, the wind often picks up during the afternoon. We do our best to avoid windy areas and stay near the shore areas at all times, but we make no promises. We have access to very sheltered lake and ocean locations and do our very best to set you up for success. If you have kids, we strongly suggest booking a morning trip when there is the best chance for calmer winds.
Which lakes do you go to?
We use a few different spots depending on the time of day, wind conditions, and what our permit from Acadia National Park allows us. Most of the time our lake lessons take place on either Echo Lake or Great Long Pond. Both destinations are about a 20-minute drive from our downtown shop and offer an ideal environment for SUP.
Will I fall in? Will I get wet?
While there are obviously no guarantees, the majority of people do not fall unless they want to. However, this is a water sport so you should be prepared to get wet and have an adventurous time.
Isn't the water too cold in Maine for paddle boarding?
Its not. This may be the most common misconception we battle every day. The lakes of Acadia are perfect for swimming and water temps frequently get up into the upper 70s. While the bay is certainly more refreshing, our full length wet suits and booties (included free in the cost of any trip) are very high-quality and will prevent you from getting cold…in fact you may get a little hot. Regardless, we are always happy to provide a wetsuit for any reason, to any venue, and at any time of the year if that is what you prefer.
Do I have to wear a wetsuit? What should I wear/bring?
You do not have to wear a wetsuit unless air and water conditions would make it unsafe go without one. However, if on the ocean, we HIGHLY recommend one if you worry about falling in. You can always jump in the water if you start to get hot. For lake trips, they are not necessary at all.
Ideally, you want to come already dressed to get wet. We do have a changing room at the shop, but there are no facilities at the launch spots. It is also helpful to bring a towel and simple change of clothes for after the trip.
It's my first time. Do I need prior experience?
Not at all. If you are a novice we do recommend going on a trip rather than renting. No previous experience is necessary to go on our trips and you get a solid foundation from our professional coaches. If you are worried about holding up others in a group, consider a more customized private trip which can focus more on instruction and move at your pace.
I'm worried the pace of the trip will be too fast or too slow for me. How do you handle different ability levels?
We have no way to assure that everyone is at the same ability level. We think we are pretty good at being flexible in trying to meet everyone’s needs and encourage you to approach the trip with the same flexibility in your expectations. While we certainly try, due to the often diverse nature of groups and inability to control the wind we can’t guarantee that we can cover a ton of distance. That’s okay though! You don’t have to go very far on a paddle board to get a workout or have fun and we love showing people all the fun that can be had without having to go anywhere. If this is something you are worried about there is always the option of booking a private session that will move at your pace and be personally catered to your goals/needs.
Do I have to take a "lesson?"
Group trips are a mixed bag of ability levels; so while it is true that our trips begin with a basic orientation, the instruction and safety talk we provide at the start of all our trips is geared to be fun, engaging, and designed to pass on a few golden nuggets of info and technique that will set everyone up for success. There will be AMPLE TIME for touring around, sightseeing, and playing on the boards. People thank us all the time for helping them get better and comment how much they enjoyed learning a few new things they may not have figured out on their own.
While we find that the vast majority of people (either knowingly or unknowingly) benefit from and enjoy the format of our group trips, we also provide the option to book a more customized private trip or strap boards to the top of your vehicle and rent on your own.
Do I have to stand up?
Nope. Paddle boards can easily be maneuvered either kneeling or sitting. While we encourage you to try and provide plenty of coaching, there is no requirement or pressure to stand up. If you are having fun and being safe, that’s all we care about. Everyone comes from their own unique situation so please don’t let worries about your age, balance, fitness, or weight deter you from trying SUP.
Do I need to know how to swim?
You do not have to be a great swimmer but you should not be afraid of the water and you should be able to float. We require everyone to wear a US Coast Guard approved PFD at all times. Paddle boards themselves are huge flotation devices and you will be leashed to your board so it can never go far away. Getting back on your board is easy to do and you may even find that falling off the board into the water is fun.
I'm not in great shape. Can I still do it? Will I be able to get back on if I fall in?
Just about anyone can learn to SUP. Part of the draw towards stand up paddle boarding is fitness and getting in better shape. We can’t guarantee that you won’t be tired and a bit sore because in fact that’s part of the point! However, we are not out to build character. We move at a slow and easy pace that is comfortable for all. 99% of our customers are standing within 30 minutes and have little to no difficulty getting back on the board if they fall in.
Are you guys kid-friendly?
Absolutely!! We love teaching kids how to paddle and it is one of our specialties. We allow children as young as nine on our group lake sessions and kids as young as 12 on ocean sessions. For private sessions, we take kids as young as 6 on their own boards. (Most kayak tour companies will not take children that young.) We find that kids have a blast with us and we try to make sure each trip provides plenty of time to swim, play, and learn fun paddle board tricks. We regularly have families coming back to paddle with us a second or third time because it is the highlight of their trip to Acadia.
What if my kids want to go but I do not?
We allow kids 16 and older to go alone on normal group trips. Kids under 16 can still go without and adult, but you will need to book a more personalized private trip. If there are several younger children we may require a supervising adult to participate for safety reasons. Please call to discuss specifics of your situation.
Can I rent a board just for an hour or two?
Sadly, no. The reason is mostly due to logistics. Our store is not located on the water so a short hourly rental doesn’t make it worth your money once you factor in all the time it takes you to get the board to and from the water. If you only have a short amount of time or don’t have a vehicle, signing up for a trip is about a three-hour total commitment and we will handle all the details.
Can you deliver my rental board for me?
We only offer drop-off and pick-up in the evenings by appointment for multi-day and weekly rentals. While we wish we could, due to limited resources, we aren’t able to offer delivery and pick-up services for short-term rentals.
While it may seem to be more convenient to rent from different outfits lucky enough to be located directly on the water, it’s our opinion that as the only specialty SUP shop in Maine that we indisputably provide not only superior equipment but a superior experience to others. Our attention to detail, access to a more diverse selection of paddling spots, and knowledgeable staff of professional instructors definitely makes a difference.
If transportation of boards is an issue, we recommend signing up for a trip where we can drive you to and from the location and do all the loading and unloading of the boards for you.
Where do we meet? Do we have to come to the shop?
Unless otherwise arranged or notified, we meet a minimum 30 minutes before the start time of your trip at our downtown shop location. SUP Yoga meets directly at the Ponds End on Long Pond 15 minutes early. If for logistical reasons we have to change our meeting spot to somewhere else, you will be notified in advance of the change. If you are coming from the other side of the island or far away, please call us and we can discuss options for meeting us halfway.
You don't have a restroom? Where can I use facilities before the trip?
Sadly, the shop does not have a restroom for public use. The closest public restrooms are across the village green at the police/fire station. Please take extra time precautions and use the restroom before you arrive so as not to hold up the trip.
Parking in Bar Harbor is horrendous! Where do I park?
With over 3 million visitors a year to our small island parking does pose a challenge. During the summer most side streets are permit parking only. Paid parking is available on most main streets and public parking lots. Many spots in the center of downtown only allow for a 1 time 2 hour parking session before you HAVE to move your car. Since our trips run longer than 2 hours and we only have temporary 15-30min parking in our lot at the store, we recommend either briefly parking at the store to check-in and then following us in your car to the lake (make sure you have a park pass) or finding spaces in a public lot or further from the center of town that will allow you to feed the meter for at least 3 hours. The closest parking of that type near our store is on the street past Hancock St. heading south on Main St. out of the village. Overestimate for the amount of time you will need to find parking!