If you haven’t noticed by now, we’ve been dedicating a large portion of our summer to exploring the shore, and with that comes a major push to spend our time outside. Kayaking, fishing, surfing, yoga on the beach, biking new trails, long walks with the dog…we love any excuse to get outside and soak up the sweet sights and smells of summer. One of our favorite ways to spend a few hours after work or on a day off is on a paddle board. We sat down with the team at Walk on Water recently to learn more about the Paddle Inn, their boards for rent and purchase, and their unique paddle events.
Walk on Water is a full service SUP operation, with two store locations (one in West Ocean City and one in K-Coast), and two launch points (Ocean Pines and the Paddle Inn). We met at the Paddle Inn, which is located about a half-mile down Gum Point Road, just off of 589. Idyllic, calm, and tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Ocean City and Ocean Pines, we were immediately drawn to the Paddle Inn. In addition to the massive fire pit and outdoor furniture set out for relaxing before and after a paddle, there is a wide selection of boards to rent, for all ages and skill levels. The biggest selling point however is the serene paddle setting. If you’ve never paddled before, you’re more than likely a tad bit apprehensive about falling in, so the calm water goes a long way in easing your nerves. In addition to the Paddle Inn, Walk on Water also launches from the Ocean Pines Racquet Club. “It’s really nice that both of our locations offer a gentle environment for paddling,” said Instructor Lindsey Hatfield.
Hatfield and owner Ron Gossard both live at the Paddle Inn (literally, there is a house on site) and as a result can accommodate just about any request for scheduling. “We’re very, very flexible, which is one of the great things about us,” said Hatfield, noting that an early morning paddle at 7am, mid-day excursion, or evening adventure is easy to secure with a quick phone call since there is typically always someone on-site to take out interested paddlers.
Another notable advantage is that the location offers easy waters for new paddlers, while still providing challenging fun for those with more experience. First timers are common to Walk on Water, with both Hatfield and Gossard (as well as the rest of the team) well versed in teaching beginners how to stand up on the boards. Both agreed that standing up and paddling isn’t as difficult as people expect, in fact, 9 times out of 10 people are up in no time, with very few people actually falling in. “The boards are really stable,” said Hatfield. “We put everyone on the right size board for the right size person. That is the most important part. We also tell them that it’s OK to laugh.” “We get people in their 70s coming out here for the first time,” added Gossard, noting how many people take to paddling almost immediately. For lessons, whether private or in a group, the instructors spend roughly 15 minutes providing tips on safety, holding the paddle, standing up, etc…before launching with you for a solid hour of paddling. Once on the water, the options for sights and sounds are endless. “I love this creek because you can hear so many birds,” said Hatfield. “Herons, osprey, egrets, terns…it’s so nice to hear those sounds while you’re paddling.”
In addition to launching at the Paddle Inn and in Ocean Pines, Walk on Water also offers excursions to Assateague. Groups or individuals meet at the Walk on Water storefront on 611 to pick out boards before heading to Assateague for an hour or two of paddling in the bay. “Assateague is a great place to paddle surf and the back bays are just a cool place to paddle,” said Gossard. Excursions typically take place along the bayside, where there is a wide array of local wildlife to behold as you paddle with your group and instructor. Private lessons are also available for those learning to paddle surf. Paddle surfing has gained a lot of momentum on the shore in the last few years, as more and more paddlers and surfers look for a new challenge on the water. “Take today, it’s probably knee-high out there and on a surf board that may not have made for a great time but on a paddle board you’re going to catch a lot of fun waves,” explained Gossard, adding that paddle surfing is a great combination of surfing and paddle boarding.
In addition to paddle surfing and taking excursions to Assateague, Walk on Water offers some pretty fantastic weekly events. Every Wednesday is Ladies Night at the Paddle Inn, with a discounted price on paddling ($15 versus the normal rate of $25). Ladies Night starts at 6pm and lasts roughly an hour. What’s more, if you bring your own board you paddle for free! Also available are Paddle Socials, which are held every other Thursday at 6pm and are open to everyone. Paddle Socials are also $15 per person/free for those with a board. “It’s just a great time of day to go paddle,” said Hatfield. “We all go out together and just have a lot of fun.”
SUP Yoga Classes round out the mix, with two classes held each week and taught by Hatfield. Class schedules are flexible as well, just contact Walk on Water. Paddlers head to a calm protected area and anchor. Hatfield noted that the class was an intro class and accessible for beginners. “It’s a good experience for those who are looking to do a little something different with their yoga practice.
For kids, in addition to children’s boards for lessons at the Paddle Inn, Walk on Water also offers a kids camp twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday from 9am until 11am in Ocean Pines. In addition to a basic lesson, kids also enjoy games as well as adventures on their massive six-man paddle board.
Classes aren’t the only option at Walk on Water, Gossard also has two store locations chocked full with a wide variety of boards. “We have over 100 boards between the two stores and the warehouse and you can basically demo anything that we have in stock.” Demos are the perfect way for customers to get an accurate idea of what boards will feel like out on the water; and with boards averaging at $850 to $1000, testing a board first makes a world of difference. Walk on Water offers boards for new paddlers, as well as boards designed for racing, touring, and fishing. Inflatable boards are also an option, said Gossard, adding “they really help with portability…to be able to transport it and go anywhere.”
With two store locations, the Paddle Inn, private and group lessons, and a flexible schedule for hopping on a board for a lesson or a paddle, you can see why we’ve quickly fallen in love with Walk on Water this summer. It helps that they are located just a few minutes drive from our office…who wants to join us for a Paddle Social!?