I first learned how to stand-up paddle in Hawaii. I was instantly hooked, prompting me to paddle on every future vacation involving a body of water. I mean, how can I say no to exploring at sea and strengthening my core? It’s a win-win.

What I love about the fastest-growing sport at sea is it’s easy to learn—I promise, I just my taught my parents. Think of it as choose-your-own-adventure activity: You can take it one stroke at a time on a glassy lake, or channel your inner Kelly Slater and surf some waves. Either way, you always have your paddle for balance.

Eventually, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) on vacation wasn’t going to cut it—I wanted to do the sport all the time—so my husband and I purchased boards to live the vacation lifestyle at home. And because a SUP skews bigger, sturdier, and more buoyant than a typical surfboard, we bring our 30-pound dog, Mr. Nacho King (featured in this article about traveling with our furry friends), along for the ride.

Thinking back to my favorite SUP-centric travels, the best place I learned was in a protected ocean lagoon at The Fairmont Orchid on Hawaii Island. I recently returned there on vacation and shot this how-to video in the calm and easy-breezy bay. Check out the reel below for five “getting started” SUP tips, plus an epic moment involving yours truly and a curious turtle!

5 tips to get you started

1. Make sure your paddle is long enough. It should reach the top of your extended arm.

2. When you get in the water, start on your knees for optimal balance and safety.

3. Once you’re standing, your legs must be mid-board and shoulder-width apart for a stable paddling experience.

4. For the best propulsion, the paddle’s blade must angle away from you.

5. When paddling, reach to the front of your board, alternate your strokes on each side, and start on your path to stand-up paddling like a pro!

Have you ever tried stand-up paddling? If not, is it something you’d like to learn on vacation?