I’m always up for trying something new. I always believe in having a “yes” mentality when it comes to life so that you can try new things and live life the fullest. So when my friend asked if I wanted to go paddleboarding, I was up for the challenge.
I had seen plenty of people on the waters, paddling away, easy as can be. It wasn’t until I was all signed up that I really started thinking about what I was doing and the nerves set in a bit. I was putting myself on a thin board. In the frigid waters of Vancouver. Nothing to propel me except for a paddle and the power of my (weak) arms.
What was I getting myself into?
Despite my love for Granville Island, it is absolutely the WORST place to be learning or trying out a new kind of water activity. Why?
Because of all the boats.
Before we got onto our boards, the guy setting us up told us to stay away from the Aqua Buses that run around False Creek ferrying people from point to point. Should be no problem right? Except I forgot they run so frequently and that there are so many points along False Creek where they have pick up and drop off points. It was a nightmare trying to navigate away from their docks and to get out of the way of them. They clearly have more steering power than I do so I feel like they should be getting out of my way!
Because of all the waves.
Do you know how hard it is to stand up on water, much less balance? Yes, the board is significantly bigger than a surfboard and a windsurfing board and should be easier to stand on. In theory. For the first time paddleboarder, this is not what you’re thinking about. Instead, you’re cursing the waves and the incessant ebb and flow. Waves have a mind of their own and when you’re at the mouth of a creek that opens up into the bigger English Bay, then they also have a lot of power.
Going under the Granville Street bridge was a completely nightmare. It’s almost like a funnel under the bridge with all the water trying to rush out of the creek. I was fighting the waves that were trying to push me the opposite direction. I was fighting the intense wind in my face. I was trying to control my board, willing it to go the way I want it to, all while trying to navigate between the aforementioned aqua buses. Needless to say during first half hour of trying to paddle, I felt like I was a hamster running on a wheel. I was going no where.
Because of all the people watching.
Granville Island gets a LOT of people visiting it. Tourists and locals alike flock to this area that welcomes 10 million visitors a year. There are plenty of viewpoints, docks and outdoor areas for people to gather and take in the scenery. The area lining the water are filled with benches, perfect for people watching. Perfect for watching people fail on the water.
Because of all the cameras.
In the span of my two hour rental I don’t know how many people took photos of me. Photos from the shore. Photos from boats. Photos from the Aqua Buses. I would catch people taking photos of me being ungraceful and it was highly embarrassing. I tried as much as I could to at least turn my face away from the camera. So unless you like being the centre of attention and like getting yourself captured making a fool of yourself, then avoid at all cost. If anyone is going to be taking photos of me looking like an idiot, it’s me.
Instead of doing stand up paddleboarding by Granville Island go somewhere else quieter and with calm waters. Like a lake. Or a quiet cove. Heck, maybe a swimming pool. And ideally in warm waters. None of this frigid waters of the Pacific Ocean business.
Of course, it wasn’t as miserable as it sounds. Eventually I got the hang of it and actually started really enjoying it. It was fantastic seeing False Creek from the water. It’s such a unique perspective on the city. I loved paddling away slowly and taking in the beautiful cityscape and surrounding areas.
I didn’t fall into the water thankfully, but there were a few close calls. One time my friend hit my board when I wasn’t expecting it and I came so close to falling into the water, but with my superior balancing skills (of course!), I willed myself to not fall. Mind over matter right? Another time, I got caught between the waves of a passing aquabus and the wall of the Granville Bridge. I was bouncing off the wall, then bouncing off the waves and I was really struggling probably to the amusement of everyone on that aquabus. That was towards the end of the excursion and I had sort of figured out how to ride out the waves. Success!
However, despite all this, Granville Island is a lovely place to visit and if you do decide you want to risk the boats, the waves and camera doting people watchers, then by all means go for it. It’s a highly entertaining time.
Good to Know
- You can pretty much wear whatever you like to go paddleboarding. Because the day we went, it was kind of warm, kind of chilly, I had on layers. I wore shorts, a tank and then a water resistant jacket for warmth.
- Wear a bathing suit underneath your clothing. You’re going to get wet even if you don’t fall in.
- Have a waterproof watch. We didn’t have one and had to ask other people out on the water. Have you ever tried shouting at a moving boat? It’s hard to hear!
- Have fun and don’t sweat it! If you fall in, it just gives you a better story!
Have you ever gone stand up paddleboarding before? What was your experience like?