Once you get the hang of stand-up paddleboarding, the next question is... where? With SUP becoming more and more popular, there are now well-established routes you can take around Lake Balaton.
SUP, or stand-up paddleboarding, has grown enormously over the past decade and now Lake Balaton has multiple SUP rentals, organises tours and even yoga classes on SUP boards. The sport’s popularity lies in its simplicity and its versatility. It can serve as a tool for exercise, you can do yoga on it, race in teams or just lay down and enjoy the sunshine.
Before taking a tour, it’s a good idea to gain a little experience on the board. A basic SUP knowledge is expected for most organised tours, and if you are planning on heading out by yourself, it’s especially important to feel confident on the board. Like with most water sports, a knowing how to swim is vital.
If you want to go on a guided tour, ask about how it works: do you have to make a reservation, or will boards be distributed based on the order of arrival? Is board rental included in the price or is there a discount if you bring your own?
Don’t forget that SUP is a sport dependant on the weather, which also means it has its risks. It requires more strength in wind and when there are waves. It’s best to ask a tour guide or the trainer at a rental spot whether it’s safe to take to the water – they know the lake best, so they can give you reliable advice.
The heat can also be dangerous on the board: make sure to apply sunscreen, drink enough water and don’t forget to cool down your body, including your head. Keep in mind that it’s not recommended to jump into water when your body is heated up, and even experienced paddlers can fall from a SUP board.
Here are the best routes near Balaton's SUP centres that should provide an unforgettable experience.
Although the shallow waters of the south shore make sailing dangerous, they’re perfect for taking a tour with a SUP board to explore the hidden treasures of the lake. The Viharsarok Sailing Centre at the Eastern Beach of Balatonföldvár offers an hour-long guided tour into the bay of Szántódi-öböl, where you can see the lake’s wildlife, including turtles and otters, up close and personal.
While you can climb hills, you have to swim, skate or paddle across Lake Balaton to conquer it. Although sometimes there are organised events, you can also enjoy it in a more private fashion between Tihany and Szántód, the only legal route to do so. Since a SUP board is considered water-sport equipment, you can only take it 1,500 metres far from the shore. Luckily, Lake Balaton is very narrow at the Tihany Peninsula, so that’s where you can take this tour.
Most SUP centres, including the SUPport ones in Fonyód, Siófok and Balatonalmádi, offer tours during sunset. It’s beautiful when you watch from the shore, but even more so when you are literally gliding through it, with the warm water washing your feet and the breeze dancing around you.
The western side of Tihany Peninsula is a bit wilder then the rest. SUP Center Balaton organises tours between their base right at the tip of the peninsula and Sajkodi-öböl, some of which takes place during sunset. According to Hetti, trainer at the the oldest Balaton SUP centre, “It’s a beautiful area, a nature reserve that can only be approached from the water. It’s a peaceful, quiet environment, where the only living creatures you meet are herons and unique water birds. In spring and autumn, when the water calms, you can see the bottom of the lake near the shore. Sometimes you can also spot stags and deer on the hillside. The sight of the sun setting towards Sajkod, or Csúcs-hegy and Badacsony is something very special”.
SUP is a great activity for those who like company, too. At SUPport on Plázs Beach in Siófok, you and up to ten of your friends can get on a single, giant board within the framework of the MEGAboard Party. You might not get too far, but you’ll surely have a lot of fun.
As a bonus, here’s a truly unique experience: with its permanently warm water, Hévíz Creek provides quite a spectacle in winter. Steam rises above the water, and colourful wildlife can be seen. Bernadett Jártó of SUP the Lifestyle says that the creek’s water is so clean at the lock that you can see the fish swimming below your board. You can glide through water lilies in the middle of winter, ducking below bridges, navigating through fallen trees and lush vegetation. It’s an adventure, for sure. If you want to try a winter SUP tour, it’s best to practise in summer to gain some experience. It’s important to note that you can’t SUP at Hévíz Creek by yourself, only if you have a permit, so taking an organised tour is the best option.