sandboarding in florenceYou have probably heard of snowboarding, but have you heard of sandboarding? Sandboarding is very similar to snowboarding, and it is a favorite activity in Florence, Oregon, as well as in several other areas of the Oregon Coast. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is where you’ll find many people sandboarding, as it is the perfect spot for this unique sport.


What is Sandboarding?

Sandboarding has been compared to snowboarding since it is similar in style. Conceptually, snowboarding and sandboarding are the same things, just on different terrains. Some sandboarders have described it as a combination of surfing, snowboarding, and skateboarding all rolled into one. Instead of surfing across the water, rolling on asphalt or sliding down snowy mountains, sandboarders ride down and across sand dunes.


Sandboarding may also be referred to as “sand skiing.” Whatever people may call it, participants in the sport all do the same thing: ride the dunes.


A Brief History of Sandboarding

Many people may not have heard of sandboarding nor have they ever seen anyone participate in the sport. However, the unofficial sport can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, where people would use wooden planks or pieces of pottery for faster travel and for transporting cargo across the sand dunes. This is the most widely accepted origin of sandboarding.


Mentions of a sandboarding-like activity can also be found in the histories of other Arabian countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Yemen; it is even found in Brazil’s history as well.


While sandboarding did not fully come into the modern era until the 1970s, it did not seriously start to take off in other parts of the world until the early 1990s.


What Do I Need for Sandboarding?

Sandboarding uses pretty much the same equipment snowboarding does. Therefore, if you are a snowboarder, you should be familiar with the equipment. If you are not a snowboarder, do not worry because getting the right equipment is easy. Most sandboarding parks offer equipment rentals and are more than happy to get you fitted with the correct equipment for the day.


The Board

The easiest way to slide across the sand is by dispersing your weight, and a board is a great way to do that. The boards used for sandboarding closely mimic the boards used for snowboarding. Many of them either have the bindings built in, or they have a way to attach bindings to the board temporarily. Bindings are what help you keep your feet on the board, so they are pretty important.


When sandboarding became more and more popular, people attempted to use snowboards to ride down the dunes. However, people quickly realized that snowboards were not suitable for this sport, mainly because snowboards were much too heavy and the shape wasn’t quite right. Eventually, a board specifically meant for sandboarding was created.


Many sandboarders feel that wax is a must-have for the board. Wax keeps your board smooth, making the ride down the dunes much easier. A rough board can make for a bumpy ride, and it may even lead to you either not moving down the dunes or not moving very quickly.


Protective Equipment

Like any sport, safety equipment comes down to your personal preferences. Equipment such as helmets, and knee and elbow pads make falling safer. While sand may look and feel soft when you are just walking around, it can feel like a wall when you are traveling at high speeds and fall. Ski goggles are also a good option since they keep sand out of your eyes.


Sunscreen is also highly recommended since the majority of places that offer sandboarding are in the sun without shaded areas. It is also wise to bring Chapstick and a backpack-style water pouch for your day on the dunes so you can stay hydrated.


Where Can I Go Sandboarding?

Participants in the sport can go sandboarding all over the world, specifically in countries such as Australia, Egypt, Namibia, South Africa, Nicaragua, Peru, Chili, and Germany. However, right here in Florence, Oregon, is the most popular place in the United States to get your dune fix in.


Florence plays host to the world’s first sandboarding park, known as Sand Master Park. The park offers three key attractions: dune buggy rides, a free sand sculpting competition, and most notably, sandboarding and jumping.


Lon Beale, who is also known as “Dr. Dune,” opened Sand Master Park in 2000, and boasts over 40 acres of sand dunes, along with a 40-foot ramp. For those who are familiar with the area, 40 acres is the distance from US Highway 101 to Harbor Vista County Park on the Oregon Coast. Sand Master Park offers dunes of varying difficulties, for people of all ages and experience levels.


The park is so used to having all experience levels of sandboarders visit, they offer instructor-led lessons. Go in a group because the hourly cost of the lessons lowers as the number of people in your group increases.


Sand Master Park is not the only place in the Florence area where you can go sandboarding. There are ten other sandboarding locations within ten miles of Sand Master Park. However, it should be noted that if you are renting equipment from Sand Master Park, you cannot take it with you to another location. The other locations require you to have your own gear. Some of the other locations include Honeyman State Park, South Jetty, and Siltcoos Beach.


While sandboarding may not be a well-known sport, it is one that has been around for centuries, and it’s something people all over the world can enjoy wherever there are sand dunes. Sandboarding can be fun for people of all ages and experience levels. If you are not a regular sandboarder with your own equipment, go check out a place such as Sand Master Park in Florence to get started. Wherever you decide to go, make sure to have the necessary equipment, and most importantly, have fun.


Stay with Us

You’re going to love sandboarding, so plan on staying a while in town. At Old Town Inn, we have room for everyone, showers to get all that sand off, and are in close proximity to all the happenings in Florence.