The sun was shining brightly on the calm waters of Stanley Harbour as we made our way along the shore to the Hong Kong Aqua-bound Centre. It was perfect weather to try stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) for the first time.
SUP originated in Hawaii, in the United States, where it enabled surfers to go further out into the water to surf. But thanks to Hong Kong's climate and water conditions, it's also becoming an increasingly popular sport here.
All you need is a surfboard and a paddle. The SUP boards are a bit different from regular surfboards. They are slightly larger, to make you feel more stable on the water.
After watching a short introduction video, we headed into the shallow area to practise the four basic positions for paddling: lying down, sitting, kneeling, and standing.
We began by lying on the board and used our arms to move. Going from sitting to kneeling to standing was not too difficult, but it took a lot of effort to maintain our balance.
Fesco Tse, our coach from the Hong Kong Aqua-bound Centre, told us that girls should have an easier time finding their balance since they are usually lighter and shorter than boys. But boys have an advantage - they have more strength, which means they can paddle faster. "The key is to do the 'Hula Shake'," he said, moving his hips to shake the board and get his balance.
It was challenging to stand firmly on the board at the beginning, but it was an easy skill to pick up, and we were able to take off into the open water after only 10 minutes of practice. As we set off towards the deeper waters, Tse shouted to us: "Remember to look up, relax, and chill!" And soon we were paddling around, as the water was calm enough for beginners. Still, we had to be careful of sudden waves.
The farther we moved from the beach, the more frequent the waves became, making it much harder to stay upright. But our exhaustion was soon forgotten when we saw the impressive views of Stanley. The scenery out at sea was stunning, with a blue sky that reached the horizon.
The current was strong enough to move our boards along with the waves. As we lay there in the middle of the sea, all we could hear was the sound of the waves.
SUP is a good sport for beginners, especially in fine weather - but remember to put on sunblock! While it's not too difficult, it can be physically demanding, so your muscles might ache the next day.
Summer's here, so it's time to make waves with your friends!