Stand Up Paddleboarding in Sydney Harbour

I could feel my blood pressure rising, my muscles tensing up, as we waited impatiently for the bus on Campbell Parade. According to the schedule, two 380’s were supposed to have already passed by.

“UGH where is it?! We should be almost there by now!” I moaned to Anna, endlessly annoyed that my oh-so-carefully timed outing was being smited for no good reason. My eyes darted between the hill to our right, from where our bus would be coming, and Bondi Beach just across the street. Anxiety to calm, anxiety to calm, on loop for 20 minutes.

“Want me to ask that guy over there if he wants to share a cab with us to Watsons Bay?” Anna inquired. He’d been waiting for the bus even longer than we had. I nodded, fully aware at how very New York this situation was. I’d moved to Sydney to escape that frenetic lifestyle, and here it was seeping back into my beach bumming life.

No sooner had we agreed on hailing a cab than the bus finally showed up. I glanced at my iPhone to check the time: yep, we’d definitely be late to our private stand up paddleboarding lesson. I felt awful.

Bondi Beach Australia

Stand Up Paddleboarding in Sydney

Miraculously, we were barely even 5 minutes late. And as usual, I worried for nothing because the guys at Sydney Scenic SUP could not possibly have been less fussed about it. It instantly felt like we were meeting friends for a paddle when we started chatting with Andy and Kieran. Then they gifted us with some snazzy Sydney Scenic SUP t-shirts to sport on the water and we followed Kieran down to the beach to meet our boards.

Kieran gave us a quick primer on the sand, demonstrating how to properly use our paddle and position ourselves on the board. With my poor balance and Anna’s alleged lack of core strength, I was more than slightly skeptical of our impending performance on the bay. But that didn’t deter from our excitement as we waded out into the water and mounted our boards.

Stand up paddleboarding in Sydney Australia

Standing up on the paddleboard is actually pretty easy, providing you’re in still water. You begin on your knees; then, you put your hands down in front of you, your paddle perpendicularly across the board beneath them; then, you swiftly jump onto your feet and slowly stand up on the board. My first time standing up was a little scary (nevermind that the worst case scenario would see me tumbling into shallow water and getting soaked – geez Linds, big whoop!) – but once I sloooooowly straightened my legs, I was up and at it!

Stand up paddleboarding in Sydney Australia
Stand up paddleboarding in Sydney Australia
Stand up paddleboarding in Sydney Australia

I don’t know if it was the choppy water or my unfamiliarity with stand up paddleboarding, but I felt shaky on my board on multiple occasions during our hour of paddling. Whenever I felt like faceplanting into Sydney Harbour was very close to a reality, I reminded myself of two handy tips Kieran gave us:

  1. Always look up at the horizon. If your head is looking down at the water, you’ll fall down into the water.
  2. Remember to breathe.

That last one sounded kind of silly to me, as I’ve never been one to embrace yoga, meditation, or the breathing exercises that accompany them. But I swear to you, as soon as I let myself take a deep breath, I immediately regained my balance. It was like magic – I was able to relax, let the stress from earlier fade away, and enjoy the view of the Sydney skyline.

Stand up paddleboarding in Sydney Australia
Stand up paddleboarding in Sydney Australia

The Verdict

We had a blast learning stand up paddleboarding in Sydney with Sydney Scenic SUP. I’m already itching to give it another go, preferably on calmer waters next time.

Stand up paddleboarding in Sydney Australia

Note: The above photos of us on the boards are courtesy of Sydney Scenic SUP and edited by me.

Thank you to Sydney Scenic SUP for providing us with a stand up paddleboarding lesson in Sydney. Note that all opinions expressed here and elsewhere on this blog are my unbiased own, and are uninfluenced by any gifts or incentives I may receive.

Stand up paddleboarding in Sydney Australia

Frugal Facts

As of February 2015 —
One hour private lessons with Sydney Scenic SUP are $99 AU for one person and $139 AU for two people. They also do two hour group tours for $89 AU per person.

Lindsay Buckley is the photographer and travel blogger behind Frugal Frolicker. She's a New Yorker currently based in Sydney, Australia, documenting outdoor travel experiences Down Under and beyond. Follow along with Lindsay's travel photography on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to sign up for the monthly Frugal Frolicker newsletter!

Where in the World is This?


  • That looks like a lot of fun! I have always thought about doing paddleboarding :) I am pretty sure I would be the person to jump up and fall off of the board first :D

    • lindsaypunk

      IT IS!! You should try it on the calmest of waters, which’ll make it easier to stay on your board. And just remember the 2 big tips: look at the horizon and BREATHE. Works like magic, I promise!