Hooked on SUP Offers Unique Gateway to Encountering Wildlife – Editor’s Note: We spoke with Paige Bakhaus, the owner of Hooked on SUP located at Don Pedro Island State Park located at 8450 Placida Road with a second location at Stump Pass Beach State Park. Learn more at HookedonSUP.com and call 941-504-1699.
Paige, please tell our readers a little bit about your business?
Hooked on SUP is a standup paddleboard and kayak rental and Eco-tour company. We’ve been in business since 2011, and all our guides are certified instructors and Florida Master Naturalists, so tours are safe, fun and educational.
Which is more popular – kayaks or standup paddleboards?
That varies with the season. Kayaks are more popular in the winter, but in the summer when it’s hot, more people want to go out on the boards. SUP’s are much easier than kayaks to get in and out of the water when you want to go for a swim during your paddle.
What are some of the options for guided tours and do you offer private lessons?
We offer guided eco tours from Don Pedro Island State Park and Stump Pass Beach State Park, and in Boca Grande. Our tours are from 2-3 hours and one even includes a picnic lunch on the beach. We go through mangrove tunnels, to a hidden lagoon full of starfish and sponges and we even help you find prehistoric shark teeth at the beach. We offer private lessons for everyone, from the beginner through professional athletes who want to improve their stroke technique for racing or long-distance paddling.
What’s the most popular local destinations?
Don Pedro Island State Park is by far our most popular tour and destination. We are located on the land-based side on Placida Rd, but the island section of the park can only be reached by kayak, paddle board, or private boat. So, it’s like having a private beach all to yourself some days. And the shark tooth hunting and shelling are out of this world.
What’s involved for a guide to be certified?
Our guides are Paddle Fit Level 3 and World Paddle Association Class 1 with special training as Florida Master Naturalists (the Coastal module is required, and some guides have also completed the Uplands and Freshwater modules). They are all expert paddlers and they are also CPR and First Aid certified. It adds up to between 104 and 184 hours of training. That doesn’t include the additional classes, seminars and clinics that help us stay up to date.
What’s included with a lesson for someone kayaking or paddling for the first time?
Our lessons are tailored to each person’s skill level and their interests. For example, for a new paddleboard owner, we focus on how to care for your board, how to safely transport your board, and all the safety requirements. Every lesson includes safe paddling protocol, water safety, and boating rules and regulations. Being well informed and properly trained enhances the experience of being on the water.
Do you sell paddle boards and accessories?
Yes, we are Yolo Board dealers. Yolo Board is a Florida-based paddleboard company and has been making beautiful high-quality boards since the beginning of the standup movement. We also sell Tahoe and KM Hawaii boards.
Where are you originally from?
I’m from Georgia and I’ve always been a water baby. I lived on a houseboat on Lake Lanier in the Atlanta area for many years. I also lived on St. Simons Island on the South Georgia coast six years before moving here in 2008.
Paige, what do you enjoy most about your business?
I love when guests are excited about encountering dolphins, manatees, starfish, and other wildlife. Seeing these amazing animals in their natural environment instead of a cage or aquarium is an enriching experience. People protect what they love, so it’s a good feeling to know we are helping people feel more connected to marine life and our precious environment.