Paige Bakhaus is Hooked on SUP – Editor’s Note: We spoke with Paige Bakhaus, the owner of Hooked on SUP with two locations at the Cape Haze Marina in Placida and Stump Pass Beach State Park. The location in Placida has been open since 2012. The hours are 9am to 5pm daily and weekends. Learn more at HookedOnSUP.com or call 941-504-1699.
Where are you originally from and what brought you to this part of Florida?
I grew up outside of Atlanta and I was living in St. Simons Island for a few years before I moved to Florida. My husband and I got tired of dating long-distance. I enjoyed the area from prior visits and I love the warm weather.
How did you get involved with SUP?
We were on our boat one weekend when I saw a girl on a paddleboard with her dog. There were dolphins and manatees swimming all around her. I was hooked and I haven’t lost my enthusiasm since. The problem is I didn’t know anyone with a paddleboard. I decided to get certified so I could teach my friends. I was the only certified paddleboard instructor within 100 miles at the time. I became so busy giving lessons that I left my dental job to teach full time. I met Ken Stead, the manager of Cape Haze Marina and he liked the idea of me teaching at the marina. I launched Hooked on SUP August 1, 2012 and we’ve been growing every year since.
Why has SUP become so popular?
People of all ages and fitness levels can enjoy paddling with the right instruction and gear. SUP gives you a feeling of freedom that no other water sport provides. Enjoying nature while exercising is a great combination. One of the attractions for women is it’s easier to transport your board versus a heavier kayak.
What are some of the options at Hooked On SUP?
Our guided tours are very popular and a fun way to see wildlife and sea life. Everyone gets a land-based lesson before the tour starts and we include all the gear and a guide as part of the single fee. We even take photos and email them to guests at no charge. Some of our tours include a picnic lunch. We also offer private and small group lessons. All our guides are certified.
What are some of your favorite local destinations?
The mangrove tunnel and hidden lagoon at Don Pedro Island State Park pretty much tops the list for me and many of our guests. The tunnel is full of starfish, upside down jellyfish, sponges, live shells, tons of fish, and birds. The water is crystal clear.
What do you enjoy most about your business?
The fact we are educating visitors and locals about our ecology while teaching them to paddle is very rewarding.