Photo of Traci paddleboarding on Lake Atitlan
Life in Guatemala

Paddleboarding on Lake Atitlan

When I moved to Lake Atitlan in 2011, one of my first purchases was a kayak. I went out as often as the weather would permit, exploring the little bays near my house. Being in my own tiny boat, alone on the lake, was one of the most peaceful ways I could imagine spending a morning. A while back I wrote a post about kayaking with my coffee cup. I also wrote about respecting the forces of nature after the wind came up and nearly stopped us from getting home after a paddle across the lake.

After I few years, I began to see paddleboarders out on the lake. I realized that one of my problems with kayaking was sitting down for so long (a couple hours can give you a serious case of kayak butt!) I wanted to try paddleboarding, but it wasn’t the highest thing on my list.

Then at a fundraiser, I saw a paddleboard lesson on the silent auction list. The perfect opportunity: support a local organization and try out paddleboarding!

The lesson was offered by Marshall Perry of Stand Up Paddle Atitlan in Santa Cruz La Laguna. I set up a time with Marshall and Mark and I headed to Santa Cruz on a lovely, windless morning.

Traci paddleboarding for the first time in Santa Cruz La Laguna
My first time on a paddleboard with Stand Up Paddle Atitlan in Santa Cruz La Laguna

Marshall gave us instruction on how to hold the paddle, and what to do when we were on the board. That first time out, I took me several tries before I could stand up, and I fell to my knees more times than I can count (we were on inflatable boards, so falling to my knees didn’t hurt). Mark had more trouble standing. I have pretty good balance from my martial arts days and my on-again-off-again yoga practice.

Mark and Traci paddleboarding for the first time.
Having too much fun our first time paddleboarding

We paddled around for a couple hours, and I was hooked.

I thought about getting my own board, but didn’t know where to start. The thought stayed with me though, especially when I saw other paddlers out on the lake.

In July, about four months into the coronavirus pandemic, I decided it was time to take action. I couldn’t go across the lake to where my kayaks were, and I needed to be out on the water. I contacted Marshall and he made the connection with the Aztron dealer in Guatemala City. Within a week, my Aztron Lunar was delivered.

I chose the Lunar because I wanted a board light enough that I could carry it (by myself) down the one km walk to the beach. It’s great for a beginner who wants a quality board without a huge financial investment. The board is super well-made and comes in at 10kg/22lbs.

The first day, I carried it to the beach, hopped on, stood up on the first try, and off I went. I can’t even begin to express the feeling of freedom I get from paddleboarding on Lake Atitlan. I go out early, before the winds come up, and paddle from 90 minutes to two hours. My longest paddle so far is 8km. I can hop off, go for a swim pushing the board alongside me, hop back on and finish my paddle. It’s a great workout, and no matter where I go, the views are spectacular.

As I write this, I’m recovering from hand surgery. It will probably be close to two months before I can paddle again. But the recovery is going well and the promise of getting out on the lake and paddling keeps me in a positive frame of mind.

If you’re visiting Lake Atitlan and want to try paddleboarding, take a tour, or rent a board, I highly recommend Stand Up Paddle Atitlan. If you live in the area and want a board of your own, Marshall can help with that too. You won’t be sorry.

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