From the moment we pulled into the small dock-side parking lot, we could feel the excitement building up inside. We walked up to the little shop front and noticed how it blends into the docks perfectly with its open garage doors, cool wood features, industrial shelves and lots of fun goodies for sale. Just in case we needed to pick something up last minute we found an endless variety of sunglasses, sunscreen, branded shirts and bandanas. They even had locally made jewellery that, with each purchase, gives back to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Tucked into the back corner of the space is a small desk where we were greeted by friendly staff members that had us sign a safety waiver while getting us super pumped about our little water adventure. They recommend that you make reservations in advance, which we were very thankful that we did, as the place was bustling considering how late in the day it was!
Once we were settled up and ready to go, we left our keys in a basket by the desk and then made our way past a cute little stand selling drinks, snacks and even Windsor Ice Pops! We resisted the temptation to cool off with a treat and headed over to the docks where instructors greeted us, fit us with a life jacket (if necessary) and a paddle (if you’re taking a board out). There were plenty of shelves available for shoes so you can leave them somewhere dry and only steps away from the water which was a nice feature.
Whether you’re taking out a kayak or a paddle board, the staff has a wonderful way of making you feel welcome and safe. Having never even set foot on a paddle board before, we were both super nervous but they made the whole process so simple that we felt comfortable instantly. As first timers, we were given a little demo on the dock and had a chance to practice paddling in the water before we were gently helped onto our boards and sent out to explore.
I’ll admit that getting on the board was a lot easier than I expected, even as someone who isn’t the best with balance! Once we had our ankle straps on and we were ready to set out, we were given two options; go right towards the lake or go left through the eco trail. Given that the water that day was very choppy, and that neither of us had ever paddle boarded before, our instructor suggested that we go left so we happily agreed and went on our way.
We started on our knees to pass under an overpass just beyond the docks and after that, it was (mostly) smooth paddling. It took some time to get used to balancing on the board so I stayed on my knees for a bit until I worked up the courage to try standing. Although it took me a few tries to get it, within 15 minutes I was up and paddling. The cool thing about paddle boarding is that, yes, standing is ideal, but kneeling and even sitting are also possible so you can give your legs a break or enjoy the ride from a different perspective at any time. I tried all three during our one hour paddle and enjoyed the flexibility.
The eco trail was a beautiful winding canal through a residential area that was the perfect combination of serene and fun. One minute we were waiving to people in their backyards and the next we were paddling through the silence and soaking up the sunshine on our own. The highlight of our paddle was definitely seeing a beautiful Blue Heron up close as it stopped for a rest and a quick drink along the canal, just feet away from us. It’s truly amazing what you can find in your own backyard if you only take the time to look for it!
After an hour of paddling and testing out the limits of our calf muscles, we brought the boards back to the docks and spent some time taking in the view at one of their picnic tables while obsessing about how much fun we’d just had on the water. We weren’t off the boards for more than five minutes before we were already making plans to come back and visit again. Talk about a great first experience!
If you’re thinking about trying paddle boarding for the first time, Urban Surf Co. is the perfect place to start. Wear clothes that can get wet, pack a hat and sunscreen and don’t forget your sense of adventure!
Have you ever tried paddle boarding in Windsor-Essex County? Where are your favourite spots to explore?