Paddleboarding app helps Clay County enjoy the outdoors

Lauren Fox
A paddleboard rental station at Fleming IslandPhoto: PADL

A paddleboard rental app in Clay County is gaining popularity by encouraging visitors and residents to enjoy the outdoors, according to Clay County Director of Tourism Kimberly Morgan.

The app, PADL, allows users to rent paddleboards for $19 per hour or at special rates through monthly or biannual memberships. Solar-powered stations let users rent and return the paddleboards by checking them out on their smartphones.

“Honestly, I fell in love with the area,” said PADL’s co-founder Andres Avello. “Being able to paddle along the Black Creek and St. Johns River is a very unique experience.”

Avello explained that PADL is interested in opening more stations in Clay County and is looking into the best locations to add more paddleboards. Currently, Clay County has three PADL stations located at Camp Chowenwaw, Doctors Lake Park and Keystone Beach. Camp Chowenwaw is the first and most popular location where the boards can be found, but the co-founder explained that the other locations in the area are catching up.

Since PADL is gaining popularity in the area, the company also plans to add kayaks to the stations this summer, said Avello. For the time being, each station in Clay County has four boards available to rent.

“People are enjoying the new asset,” Morgan said. “They have great customer service and a top-notch safety plan.”

When unfavorable weather is predicted, PADL stations can go into “weather mode,” temporarily preventing users from renting boards, Avello explained.

Since Florida’s weather is known for being unpredictable, PADL partners with Sea Tow to provide on-water assistance to renters who find themselves stuck in a storm, said Avello. All the paddleboards are embedded with a GPS that provides live tracking if a problem occurs.

“During every ride we know exactly where people are,” Avello said.

Unless the stations are shut down for weather, they are open every day from sunrise to sunset. Some PADL stations outside Clay County open for guided full moon paddles at night. PADL plans to add guided tours to Clay County in the future.
Screenshot from PADL’s interactive map showing board availabilityPhoto: Lauren Fox

To use the boards, residents and tourists alike must download the PADL app to agree to a waiver, enter their payment information and check board availability through an interactive map.

PADL founders plan to continue working with the county, providing more services in the area.

“Anything to do with the outdoors we fully support,” Morgan said.

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Lauren Fox is a communication major at the University of North Florida, focusing on journalism. Lauren has years of international work experience, working jobs in countries such as Australia, New Caledonia, Vietnam and Morocco.

Jacksonville, FL

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