As soon as I walked out of the train station, I could see why Cascais made such a popular day trip from Lisbon – the quaint streets paved with beautiful mosaic tiles, the small boutique shops which lined each side, and the golden beaches just a minute’s walk away from the station.

Pronounced ‘kush-kaish’, this once affluent fishing village nowadays attracts locals and holidaymakers alike to its beautiful sea views, and small town charm.

I love a lazy beach day as much as the next person, but one of my favourite things to do on holiday is to experience a new activity which we might not get to do at home.

In Cascais, this meant trying out the world’s fastest growing water sport – stand up paddleboarding!

We headed to Praia da Duquesa beach to find Beyond Boards, a local surf company I’d arranged our 1.5 hour lesson with through Get Your Guide.

Pedro, our tuitor for the day, wasted no time in showing us the basics on the beach. Essentially a cross between surfing and kayaking, SUP at the intro level is simple, meaning it’s open to everyone and easy to pick up, even if you’re athletically-challenged like me.

Quick training over, we headed out to sea with our boards attached around our ankles by a velcro strap and cord.

I was convinced I was going to fall off long before we’d even started, and when I felt the sharp coldness of the water, that fear immediately intensified.

“The water’s perfect today,” Pedro said, as I winced.

As soon as I stood up on the board, I felt wobbly. My legs tensed up, and my feet gripped onto the surface in a desperate attempt not to crumble. I took a deep breath and tried to relax, following Pedro’s instructions to look ahead, and concentrate on paddling.


The deeper you push your paddle into the water, the further and faster you’ll move. And if your paddle is used at the right angle, you should travel in a straight line. Somehow though, I went the entire way in a zigzag.

Don’t be fooled by its laid back pace and casual appearance, because SUP can be tiring stuff. Granted, my arms hadn’t seen that much exercise since I bought a set of dumbbells over two Christmas’s ago, but they started to ache after just 30 mins of being on the water…

“Paddling, paddling. Don’t stop paddling!” Pedro shouted in encouragement. “You stop paddling, you fall!”

He was right. As soon as you slow down, you can really feel the waves beneath your feet, rocking your board unsteadily from side to side. Luckily, I have balance on my side, but there are little breaks for beginners in SUP.

Before I knew it though, Cascais faded into the distance behind us. I couldn’t believe how far we’d travelled, as we started to approach Praia da Poça, an entire train station away from Cascais.

Feeling exhausted just thinking about having to paddle back, we sat down on our boards for a much-needed rest stop.


I may have signed up for stand up paddleboarding, but I really enjoyed doing some sit-down paddleboarding on our way back, and a little bit of just ‘boarding’ too, as Pedro kindly paddled for the both of us.

beyond boards cascais

I stood back up eventually, and felt a lot more relaxed and comfortable than when we first started.

No longer focusing all of my efforts on balance and technique, I could really enjoy the stunning view of the coastline around us.


I’m incredibly proud to say that despite many wobbly moments, I didn’t fall once throughout our lesson.

Dave, on the other hand…


More ideas for your Lisbon trip:

Take a day trip to picturesque Sintra
Where and what to eat in Lisbon
Take a self-driving tour in a GoCar
Complete guide to a Lisbon city break

Need to know

  • Private 1.5 hr stand up paddleboarding lesson, £17 per person
  • All equipment is included
  • Transfers can be arranged at extra cost

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