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Zen Sup

Name of company

Zen Sup

Type of activity

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

Company background

Set up by watersports and yoga enthusiast John Hogan, after a first career in the construction industry. John has lived in the Algarve since 2002, and has established Zen Sup to pass on his love of the two activities. He holds ASI (Academy of Surfing Instructors) qualifications in water safety and rescue, in SUP Level 1 (flat waters), Level 2 (exposed waters and beginner surf) and Level 3 (downwind and distance paddling) and is an ASI qualified SUP Yoga Teacher.

John is helped in the business by partners Heike and Roger.

Where do you participate?

Primarily the Ria Formosa, the salt water lagoon that spans over 170 km² of beaches, islands and waterways off the coast of Faro.

River SUP lessons can also be booked on the Guadiana, Arade or Alvor rivers.

For the Stand Up Paddler with some exposed water experience, tours can be taken of the caves, atolls and hidden beaches of the western and south-western Algarve.

The school and rental services are based at Temperus Restaurante on Praia Loulé Velho near Vale do Lobo.

The facilities

The paddleboard and the paddle are provided, with John favouring the inflatable Naish board, somewhat lighter than other SUP or surf boards you might have experienced. You’ll also be given a bright yellow lycra Zen Sup T-shirt to wear: it not only dries quickly but is a sensible safety precaution given its high visibility. All you need to bring is a towel and swimming costume. If it’s a hot day, also take a hat, sun cream and water, but be wary of what you can carry - see ‘need to know’ below.

The training

You start your initial lesson with some basic instructions about how to balance on the board and how to start, stop, turn, move through the water, etc. Then after some warm-up exercises, it’s into the water for your first go. John will constantly guide, help and encourage as you (hopefully!) start to get the hang of it. After a while of paddling on your knees, you should be able to at least attempt to stand up. You might fall in the water, you might not be able to combine the ‘standing up’ bit with the ‘paddling’ bit. But it’s good fun all the same. And you never know - you could be a natural and find yourself hooked.

Whilst a pleasurable activity of course, John is also very safety conscious, and will be on the lookout for passing boats or sudden wave/wind changes.

Why do you like it?

It’s a fantastic way of seeing the Algarve from a different perspective, or of experiencing a part of the region you might not know. It can be quite physically challenging, but you’ll feel good afterwards, and will probably have topped up the tan in the process.

John’s enthusiasm is infectious, and however good/bad you are at it, it’s one of those activities that it’s hard not to enjoy. John has definitely kissed the Blarney Stone, and I’m sure he won’t mind me describing him as one of those ‘lovably mad’ Irishman, who loves the craic and isn’t afraid of making an eejit of himself, dressing up for stunts and PR photos as Santa, a leprechaun, and even James Joyce. He's even been known to bring his dog along with him for the ride.

Need to know

If you’re heading out to one of the more remote islands of the Ria Formosa, you’ll go out by boat but there’s a likelihood that you’ll be paddling back to your departure point. John carries a small waterproof rucksack with him, but try to keep personal possessions (money, keys, phones, shoes, towels, water bottles) to a minimum during your lesson - or don’t take them at all. The only other place to put them is in an elasticated strap on the paddleboard - they’ll get wet whatever happens, and certainly won’t stay there for long if you fall in and tip the board up.

When to go?

Unless the wind and weather conditions are against you, it’s one of those activities you can enjoy almost year-round, and at a time of the day that suits you. Sunset tours are a particular favourite for romantics, or if you want to avoid the heat of the daytime sun.

Insider knowledge

Wetsuits are not provided as standard for lessons, as you’re in shallow/warmish water, although they can be hired for an additional charge. See prices below.

Zen Sup also offers training courses if you really want to master the technique; board hire for experienced practitioners; teambuilding for companies and incentive programmes; and Sup Yoga, a combination of the two disciplines.

Limit on numbers

The tuition is very hands-on, so it’s not really practical with large numbers. John rarely takes out more than about 8 people in one session. If one of his business partners is also utilised, more people can be accommodated.


John is based in Quarteira, but will arrange a suitable meeting point depending on the location of the activity. Boat transfers to the Ria Formosa for instance start from Faro.


The duration of each lesson is 1.5 hours.

Lessons (per person)

1 lesson: €45

5 lessons: €200

10 lessons: €375

Group lessons (2+ people, price per person)

1 lesson: €25

5 lessons: €110

10 lessons: €200

Prices are based on lessons at main Zen Sup locations. There will be an additional charge for other locations.

For groups of 5 people or more, enquire about preferential rates.


Board: 1 hour - €15; 1/2 day (3 hours) - €35; 1 day - €70

Wetsuit hire

1 hour - €5; 1/2 day (3 hours) - €10; 1 day - €15

Private tours (2+ people, price per person)

1.5 hours - €25; 2.5 hours - €35

For groups of 5 people or more, enquire about preferential rates.


Year-round, depending on weather conditions.






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