In Hawaiian, “Wai Mauna” translates to “mountain water,” and growing up in Hawaii, Kyle Ellison wanted to bring a piece of the islands and its culture to the Asheville, North Carolina, area. As an avid surfer, sailor and owner of Wai Mauna Asheville SUP Tours, Ellison encourages groups to get out on the water and explore their inner sense of adventure, while adding a little spirit of aloha.
“First-time stand-up paddlers will find that the activity is much easier than they think — especially since they learn it from certified instructors who excel in helping beginner paddlers stand up and balance with ease,” Ellison said. “It’s the chance to do something new and different, and if a group opts for a guided tour, they also get to learn about Asheville’s quirky and colorful past. We’re also the only outfitter in Asheville to offer tours all the way until sunset, and the only place in the Appalachian Mountains to offer a sunrise Dawn Patrol paddle where you watch the sunrise from the water.”
Groups can choose between a regular paddle board or the Party Barge — a six-person inflatable board that is 17 feet long and 5 feet wide. Wai Mauna offers both guided and self-guided trips down the French Broad River, and each one includes a beginner lesson so groups can get a better feel of the board and learn how to balance and paddle.
“Another perk is that the tours take place in Asheville’s city limits, which means it’s just minutes to restaurants, breweries and shops,” Ellison said.
Distance-wise, there are two options for groups: the 4-mile paddle through the River Arts District (about 1½ hours of paddling), and the 7-mile paddle through the Biltmore Estate, (about 2½ hours of paddling). The Party Barge is only available on the 4-mile stretch of the river.
“(Groups) will not only learn how to paddleboard, but learn the history and origins of the sport, and see the river from an entirely new vantage that you can only experience standing up,” Ellison said.
For more information, call 828-808-9038 or visit waimaunaashevillesuptours.com.