Aqua Marina Monster Review: Overview
The Aqua Marina Monster is a large all-around iSUP in a lightweight package. With a long, parallel shape the Monster is stable enough for beginner paddlers, paddlers with small passengers or pets, and larger paddlers. The lightweight board is compatible with kayak seat attachments and features a large deck pad great for a variety of activities. If you are looking for a large all-around board on a budget the Aqua Marina Monster may be a great option for you.
— Aqua Marina Monster Summary Ratings and Review – —
Aqua Marina Monster 12’ x 33” x 6”
Construction & Durability
Features and Versatility
The Aqua Marina Monster is a large all-around iSUP that offers good stability and maneuverability in a lightweight package.
- Very maneuverable
- Kayak seat compatible
- High weight capacity
- Large deck pad
- Rolls tightly for smaller spaces
- Could be more stiff
- Would like to see more built-in features
Construction and Durability
The Monster has a single-layer PVC base construction, called the DS Light Tech by Aqua Marina, with two layers of PVC wrapped around the rails, or sides, of the board.
At 6” thick, the Monster is rated to carry a maximum of 374lbs spread evenly across the board. The large size and higher-than-normal volume of the Monster is a better option for larger paddlers, however the single PVC construction does let the board bend and flex a noticeable amount. As a heavier paddler myself at 230lb, I definitely notice the flex in the lightweight construction when standing and paddling. It wasn’t enough to make the board unstable, but did impact how it paddled. The Aqua Marina Atlas is a similar size and shape board, but in their Advanced series and is stiffer on the water when compared side-by-side.
The double layer on the rails does aid in stiffness, but also in durability. If you run into something while on the water, most likely you’ll be hitting the side of your board. PVC is a strong and durable material. With good care, the Aqua Marina Monster will last for many years.
(SUP & accessories)
Features, Accessories and Versatility
The Monster offers a large amount of usable real-estate on the water with a minimalist set of built-in features.
The large deck pad has plenty of room for a passenger or dog, or it can be used as a large area for yoga (or taking a nap!). On the sides of the board are four D-rings that work with kayak seat conversion kits. The rear pair of D-rings could tie down a small cooler and the front pair could be laced with a longer bungee cord to expand the front cargo area. Up front is an adjustable cargo bungee with enough room for a few small dry bags or one medium dry bag. The adjustable cord lets you tighten the bungees down a little bit for small items like flip flops, but it does not have much room to loosen for stowing items larger than a 10-15L dry bag.
The rear of the board is home to the inflation valve and a D-ring for your leash.
Aqua Marina’s iSUP bags are simple and lightweight. They have a ¾ length zipper to open like a suitcase and feature a single large pocket on the inside.
While it might not be decked out with bells and whistles, the bag does have plenty of room for your whole board kit, paddle, pump, and still space for a PFD or small dry bag.
The monster comes as a complete kit with board, single-chamber pump, paddle, fin, leash, and a small repair kit.
The Sports III aluminum paddle that comes with the Aqua Marina Monster is fully adjustable from 69” to 87” which would fit most paddlers from 4’11” to 6’5”. The blade is medium-to-large in size and the overall weight of the paddle is pretty heavy, so smaller paddlers may want to consider upgrading sooner rather than later.
The handle section has a length scale printed on it to help dial in your sizing, but no indexing to help new paddlers orient the handle correctly. Normally this isn’t too much of a problem, but it is compounded in the Sports III paddle by the shape of the paddle blade itself.The blade has two, nearly equal depth, bends – one on the power face of the blade and one on the back of the blade. This can pose some confusion for beginner paddlers when setting their handle and when on the water.
For intermediate and advanced paddlers, the blade-handle orientation isn’t too hard to figure out after taking a couple looks at everything, but there is another small downside. The extra curves in the blade will catch as you lift the paddle out of the water, which can throw you out of your cadence or even cause you to lose your balance in certain situations.
At 12’ long and 33” wide, the Monster has excellent primary stability – or how stable the board is when it is flat on the water. Standing, paddling and even moving around on the board are all easily done with a board this size. When moving around on the board I did notice the flexibility imparted by the single layer PVC construction and there was a good deal of bounce and “reverberation.” But the bounce and reverberation were both mellow and predictable. In comparison the Aqua Marina Atlas had a faster and more erratic feel when walking around that sometimes actually made it harder to do.
One often overlooked component of stability in a paddleboard are the fins. The more surface area you have in your fins, the more they will resist rolling through the water. With a single 9” fin, the Monster stays stable, but the overall stability would be improved in a board this size with the addition of more fins.
A 2+1 fin setup – 1 center fin and 2 side fins – would add a significant amount of surface area and stability to the Monster.
Secondary stability – or how well a board balances on its edge – is important especially if you paddle in choppier water or around a lot of boat wake. The easier it is to hold a paddleboard on its edge, the easier it is to recover if you get tossed around by a wave or wake. The Monster did take some concentration to keep balanced on its edge – a little more than I expected. The Monster and Atlas both have very long, parallel sections in the middle of the board. This shape puts a lot of volume on the edges and that volume tries to bring itself back upright when you push down on it. So the difficulty in holding the edge wasn’t because I was nearly falling over, but because it was hard to actually get it to stay on its edge and not settle down.
A paddleboard’s maximum speed is determined by lots of factors, but not all paddleboards are made purely for speed, either. When I want to really go as fast as I can or quickly cover long distances, I’ll paddle a raceboard or a touring SUP. The Monster is neither of those – It’s an all-around iSUP. Paddling the Monster at its top speed takes a lot of effort. The harder you paddle (by using your whole body with each stroke) the more the Monster wants to flex and bounce. This makes it wander from side to side and pushes the board down into the water instead of putting that energy into forward propulsion.
When we did push the Monster to its speed limit, we found that it performed on par with other large, wide, all-around iSUPs (>11’ long, >33” wide). The flex in the Monster did help in the speed test a little by keeping the nose from digging into the water (whereas the Atlas did try to become a submarine momentarily).The Monster is better suited to slower, casual paddling, speeds rather than fast-paced tours or races. The low nose does push the water a bit rather than gliding over the top. This reduces how far the board will glide with each stroke. When paddling at lower rates, the flex and bend are less noticeable and it becomes far more comfortable to paddle.
Maneuverability and Tracking
The first time I paddled the Monster I expected it would take me a while to turn around when the time came. Instead I was surprised to find that this behemoth of a board was actually quite nimble even when flat on the water. It only takes an average of 6 forward sweep strokes (a stroke that starts at the nose of the board, sweeps way out to the side, and then comes back to the tail) to turn the Monster a full 360° from a standstill. Other boards I’ve tested in this size range have taken up to 13 strokes to do the same!
A large part of the Monster’s maneuverability comes from its single fin. While this does help the board turn quickly, it also reduces stability and tracking performance.
When stepping back on the tail for a pivot turn you’ll notice two things right away. 1) There’s no raised kick pad like on the Atlas to let you know your foot is in the right place and give you a solid point of contact and 2) the pintail shape at the back of the board is drastically less stable than the wide, parallel standing area.
Once you move onto the tail you’ll need to stay concentrated to stay dry. The narrow tail slices through the water quickly and easily, but is also very responsive to any heel-toe changes. A wider tail (square or rounded) would add more stability when pivot-turning, but does also make it a little harder to sink the tail and move it through the water.
Sometimes a board that is highly maneuverable turns out to be difficult to paddle in a straight line. This is not the case for the Monster. The longer size and low rocker give the Monster a really long waterline – how much of the bard is in contact with the water. This long waterline really helps the board resist the small amount of turning force that happens with each regular forward stroke.
With good quality forward strokes at a slow to moderate speed, the monster had no problems staying on course. However it does respond well to steering, so if your form starts to drop and the paddle blade starts to wander out away from the side of the board, it will begin to turn.
When paddling with lots of effort (like in our sprint test) the Monster was a bit of a bear to control. It wanted to wander with each powerful stroke and the board’s flexibility bounced it on the water’s surface making it even hard to control.While cruising at a medium speed the Monster did well, but quickly slows down when you stop paddling, making it more susceptible to being turned by waves and wind.
Warranty and Customer Support
Aqua Marina paddleboards are distributed in the United States by Zoppinh.com. You can reach them with questions via email, online chat, social media, or over the phone. Zoppinh also handles warranty service for Aqua Marina in the US. All of Aqua Marina’s SUPs come with a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty. There is also a 30-day return period, however this only applies to new, unused, paddleboards.
One of the defining features of the Monster is its size. Paddleboards this large usually come with an equally-large price tag. Aqua Marina has kept the cost down on the Monster by bundling it with cost-efficient accessories and a minimalist set of built-in features. If your budget has room for a little expansion, we recommend checking out our Best High Weight Capacity SUPs list for some more feature-rich options that may be an overall better value. If you do need a board this size and on a tight budget then the Monster is a great choice.
Overall Impressions/Review Summary
The Aqua Marina Monster is a cost-effective option for paddlers wanting a large, stable board with great maneuverability. This lightweight board is easy to use and even easier to transport and store. There’s plenty of room and capacity for cruising with a passenger or pet, or taking a cooler and fishing rod out on the lake for the day.
Aqua Marina Monster SUP FAQ
Aqua Marina Monster vs Monster
The Aqua Marina Beast uses the DS Lite Advanced construction which adds a seam reinforcement strip, upgraded deck pad, and adds a raised kick pad on the tail. The Beast is slightly larger than the Monster at 10’6”x32”. The Aqua Marina Beast also includes the upgraded Liquid Air V2 hand pump. Because of the extra width, the Beast will be more stable than the Monster and have a slightly higher weight capacity.
How long does it take to inflate the Aqua Marina Monster?
With the included Liquid Air V2 hand pump, the Monster takes 8-12 minutes to inflate depending on how fast you go.
How long will the Aqua Marina Monster last?
iSUP longevity is as much about how you care for your iSUP as it is about the board’s construction. As a single-layer PVC iSUP, with care to avoid physical damage, over inflation, and/or excess UV exposure, the Aqua Marina Monster will last for several years.
How do I clean and store the Aqua Marina Monster?
The Aqua Marina Monster should be cleaned and stored like most other iSUPs. Make sure to rinse with fresh water after use. Clean the board and deck pad using a biodegradable soap and soft-bristled brush as necessary. Make sure your board is fully dried before storing it. You can store the Monster rolled in its bag or partially inflated. Keep it in a dry location out of direct sunlight. If the board is stored near or below freezing temperatures, allow it to fully come to room temperature before unrolling or rolling it up to avoid potential cracking of the PVC.