Surfing the Street

A new sport takes stand-up paddling on the road. Literally.

Land paddling takes a surf concept to the pavement. Will this trend catch on?

Photo: Courtesy of Kahuna Creations

If i had to go back and relive my gym class days as a child, I’d want Leighton Nakamoto to be my PE teacher.

At Samuel Enoka Kalama Intermediate School on Maui, Nakamoto has introduced the arcade hit Dance Dance Revolution, the Indo Board and rock walls to excite his students about physical education. The newest activity in his lesson plan? Land paddling.

Like schools of fish, students in helmets and padding stand on skateboards “paddling” with their bamboo sticks around the school’s basketball court. Judging from the smiles on their faces, the students seem more aware of the fun they are having than of the workout they get from each dig to propel themselves around the court. 

“Land paddling is built upon the SUP popularity, and I think people are drawn to it for its uniqueness, ease of learning and non-traditional way to cross-train and work on fitness goals,” says Nakamoto. He explains that paddling gives his students a good core workout, just like regular stand-up paddling (SUP).

Some of the students like land paddling so much, they have already asked their parents for their own equipment, says Nakamoto.

Is this a fad? Maybe. But Nakamoto and his colleague Mark Makimoto recently introduced the activity to other teachers at a physical education convention and, as a result, several schools on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island will be incorporating the sport into their classes.

If you want to try land paddling, you’ll need a long-board skateboard and a Big Stick (it’s a brand name) to help propel the rider and steer. As with SUP, equipment needs are based on height. For example, a woman who is 5 feet 7 inches tall would want a 5-foot-6-inch stick and a suitable long board. At $149 for a Big Stick and boards starting at $139, paddling on land is cheaper than in the water.

“Land paddling actually is fun and smooth riding,” says Steve McBride, founder of Kahuna Creations, which manufactures the skateboards and Big Sticks for the budding sport.  His company had been shaping surfboards “for many years and [we] thought we’d come up with a unique idea to provide a way to cruise on a board and carve down hills.”

McBride says he got the idea after a 10-mile skateboard ride to the mechanic’s shop to pick up his car. “After I finally arrived at the shop, my back was stiff, half my body was sore and felt all out of whack,” he says. “I thought there had to be a way to make riding a long-board skateboard on the road just like the stand-up paddlers in the water.”

The equipment by Kahuna Creations can be found at the Bike Factory on Ala Moana Boulevard or in Waipio, or, for more information, visit