Bodysurf, Surf, Kiteboarding and Windsurfing

Boogie Boarding and Bodysurfing


Bodysurfing  is a  great ways to catch waves without having to master surfing .A boogie board (or "sponge") is softer than a hard, fiberglass surfboard. If you get tossed around (which is half the fun), you don't have a heavy surfboard nearby to bang your head on, but you do have something to hang onto. Sme body boarders use a  single short-clipped fin to help propel them into the wave.

D.T. Fleming Beach (Honoapiilani Hwy., below the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, 96761), in West Maui, offers great surf almost daily along with some nice amenities: ample parking, restrooms, a shower, grills, picnic tables, and a daily lifeguard. However, caution is advised, especially during winter months when the current and undertow can get rough.

Kamaole III (S. Kihei Rd., 96753), between Kihei and Wailea, is another good spot for bodysurfing and boogie boarding. It has a sandy floor, with 1- to 3-foot waves breaking not too far out. It's often crowded late into the day, especially on weekends when local kids are out of school. Don't let that chase you away; the waves are wide enough for everyone.
On the North Shore, Paia Bay (Just before Paia,  has waves suitable for bodysurfers. Park in the public lot across the street and leave your valuables at home, as this beach is known for break-ins.

Most condos and hotels have boogie boards available to guests—some in better condition than others (but beat-up boogies work just as well for beginners). You can also pick up a boogie board from any discount shop, such as Kmart or Long's Drugs, for upward of $30.

Auntie Snorkel
You can rent decent boogie boards here for $5 a day, or $15 a week. 2439 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, 96753.808/879-6263.

Honolua Surf
"Waverider" boogie boards with smooth undersides (better than the bumpy kind) can be rented from this surf shop for $8 a day, or $35 a week (with a $100 deposit).2411 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, 96753. 808/874-0999. 845 Front St.,Lahaina, 96761. 808/661-8848.

West Maui Sports and Fishing Supply
This old country store has been around for more than 20 years and has possibly the best prices on the west side. Boogie boards go for $2.50 a day or $15 a week. 1287 Front St., Lahaina, 96761. 808/



Kayaking is a fantastic way to experience Maui's coast up close. It,s easier than you might think, and allows you to cruise out to  living coral reefs and waters where dolphins and  whales roam. Kayaking can be a leisurely paddle or a challenge depending on your ability, the location, and the weather. Though you can rent kayaks independently, we recommend taking a guide. An apparently calm surface can hide extremely strong ocean currents—and you really don't want to take an unplanned trip to Tahiti. Most guides are naturalists who will steer you away from surging surf, lead you to pristine reefs, and point out camouflaged fish, like the stalking hawkfish. Not having to schlep your gear on top of your rental car is a bonus. A half-day tour runs around $75. Custom tours can be arranged.
If you decide to strike out on your own, tour companies will rent kayaks for the day with paddles, life vests, and roof racks, and many will meet you near your chosen location. Ask for a map of good entries and plan to avoid paddling back to shore against the wind (schedule extra time for the return trip regardless). Read weather conditions, bring binoculars, and take a careful look from the bay before heading in. For beginners, get there early before the trade wind kicks in, and try sticking close to the shore. When you're ready to snorkel, secure your belongings in a dry pack on board and drag your boat by its bowline behind you. (This isn't as bad as it sounds.)

Best Spots

In West Maui, past the steep cliffs on the Honoapiilani Highway and before you hit Lahaina, there's a long stretch of inviting coastline, including Ukumehame (Between mile markers 12 and 14 on Rte. 30, 96761) and Olowalu beaches. This is a good spot for beginners; entry is easy and there's much to see in every direction. If you want to snorkel, the best visibility is farther out at Olowalu, at a depth of about 25 feet. Watch for sharp kiawe thorns buried in the sand on the way into the water.

Makena Landing 
(Off Makena Rd., 96753) is an excellent taking-off point for a South Shore adventure. Enter from the paved parking lot or the small sandy beach a little south. The bay itself is virtually empty, but the right edge is flanked with brilliant coral heads and juvenile turtles. If you round the point on the right, you come across Five Caves, a system of enticing underwater arches. In the morning you may see dolphins, and the arches are havens for lobsters, eels, and spectacularly hued butterfly fish. Check out the million-dollar mansions lining the shoreline and guess which celebrity lives where. Regulators, activity operators, and the public are immersed in a hot debate about shore access to this area due to concerns over conservation, safety, and economic issues. At press time, commercial kayaking was prohibited at Makena Landing; if you want to kayak here, you'll need to rent equipment and come on your own.

Equipment, Lessons, and Tours

Our Favorite:
Blue Water Rafting
One of the few ways to get to the stunning Kanaio Coast (the roadless southern coastline beyond Ahihi-Kinau), this rafting tour begins trips conveniently at the Kihei boat ramp. Dolphins, turtles, and other marine life are the highlight of this adventure, along with sea caves, lava arches, and views of Haleakala. Two-hour trips start at $49 plus tax; longer trips cost $90 to $115 and include a deli lunch. 2777 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, 96753. 808/

Kelii's Kayak Tours.
 One of the highest-rated kayak outfitters on the island, Kelii's offers combo trips where one can paddle, surf, snorkel, or hike to a waterfall. They can take up to eight people per guide. Trips are available on the island's North, South, and West shores, and range from $54 to $149, plus tax. Kihei, 96753. 888/874-8652 or 808/

South Pacific Kayaks
These guys pioneered recreational kayaking on Maui—they know their stuff. Guides are friendly, informative, and eager to help you get the most out of your experience; we're talking true, fun-loving, kayak geeks. Some activity companies show a strange lack of care for the marine environment; South Pacific stands out as adventurous andresponsible. They offer a variety of trips leaving from both West Maui and South Shore locations, including an advanced four-hour "Molokini Challenge." Trips range from $54 to $99.800/776-2326 or 808/875-4848.

Ocean Riders. This West Maui tour crosses the AuAu Channel to Lanai's Shipwreck Beach, then circles the island for 70 mi of remote coast. For snorkeling, the "back side" of Lanai is one of Hawaii's unsung marvels. Tours—$129 plus tax per person—depart from Mala Wharf, at the northern end of Front Street and include snorkel gear, a fruit breakfast, and a deli lunch. Lahaina,96761. 808/661-3586.

Kiteboarding also known as Kitesurfing

Kiteboarding is the fastest growing watersport in the world and Maui  with its  consistent trade winds and warm water create the perfect place to learn. Even if you aren't interested in learning to kiteboard yourself, you should come down to Kite Beach Maui and check out the action. The best kiteboarders in the world live and train right here on Maui. It is not uncommon on a windy day to see these athletes jumping to heigths of 40 to 70 feet! Here's a link to a map to get to Kite Beach: Map to Kite Beach


Aqua Sports Maui
"To air is human," or so they say at Aqua Sports, which calls itself the local favorite of kiteboarding schools. They  offer basic through advanced kiteboarding lessons. Rates start at $255 for a three-hour basics course taught by certified instructors. Amala Pl., near Kite Beach, Kahului, 96732. 808/

Our Favorite:

Maui Kiteboarding Lessons

Run by Maui’s top instructors, Maui Kiteboarding Lessons is a great place for lessons.

"Great safety instruction, great patience, great step by step instruction, overall excellent intro to sport." Rates start at $240 for a three-hour basics course taught by IKO certified kiteboarding instructors.  Check out their free lesson! Amala Pl., near Kite Beach, Kahului, 96732. 808/

Kiteboarding School of Maui
Call KSM, one of the first kiteboarding schools in the United States and the first on Maui, for one-on-one "flight lessons." Pro kiteboarders will induct you at Kite Beach, at the west (left) end of Kanaha Beach, providing instruction, equipment, snacks, and FAA guidelines. (Seriously, there are rules about avoiding airplanes at nearby Kahului Airport.) Rates start at $290 for four hours or $490 for two-day private lessons.. 22 Hana Hwy., Kahului, 96732.808/873-0015.


Maui's diverse coastline has surf for every level of waterman or—woman. Waves on leeward-facing shores (West and South Maui) tend to break in gentle sets all summer long. Surf instructors in Kihei and Lahaina can rent you boards, give you onshore instruction, and then lead you out through the channel, where it's safe to enter the surf. They'll shout encouragement while you paddle like mad for the thrill of standing on water—some will even give you a helpful shove. These areas are great for beginners; the only danger is whacking a stranger with your board or stubbing your toe against the reef.
The North Shore is another story. Winter waves pound the windward coast, attracting water champions from every corner of the world. Adrenaline addicts are towed in by Jet Ski to a legendary, deep-sea break called "Jaws." Waves here periodically tower upward of 40 feet, dwarfing the helicopters seeking to capture unbelievable photos. The only spot for viewing this phenomenon (which happens just a few times a year) is on private property. So, if you hear the surfers next to you crowing about Jaws "going off," cozy up and get them to take you with them.
Stand-up paddle surfing, where you stand on a longboard and paddle out with a canoe oar, is the new "comeback kid" of surf sports. Paddleboarding requires even more balance and coordination than regular surfing. But these days you can almost always see at least one lone paddler amid the pack—watch for them.
Whatever your skill, there's a board, a break, and even a surf guru to accommodate you. A two-hour lesson is a good intro to surf culture. Surf camps are becoming increasingly popular, especially with women. One- or two-week camps offer a terrific way to build muscle and self-esteem simultaneously. Maui Surfer Girls ( immerses adventurous young ladies in wave-riding wisdom during overnight, one- and two-week camps. 

How Big Is Big?

Before heading out for any water activity, be sure to get a weather and wave report, and make sure the surf report you get is the full face value of the wave. "Hawaiian style" cuts the wave size in half. For instance, a Hawaiian might say a wave is 5 feet high, which means 10 feet if you're from New Jersey or Florida. For years, scientists and surfers were using different measurements, as Hawaii locals measured waves from median sea level to the crest. These days, most surf reports are careful to distinguish between the two—but it can still get confusing.

Best Spots

Beginners can hang 10 at Kihei's Cove Park (S. Kihei Rd.,Kihei, 96753), on the South Shore, a sometimes crowded but reliable 1- to 2-foot break. Boards can easily be rented across the street, or in neighboring Kalama Park parking lot. The only bummer is having to balance the 9-plus-foot board on your head while crossing busy South Kihei Road. But hey, that wouldn't stop world-famous longboarder Eddie Aikau, now would it?

Long- or shortboarders can paddle out anywhere along Lahaina's coastline. One option is at Launiupoko State Wayside (Honoapiilani Hwy. near mile marker 18, 96793). The east end of the park has an easy break, good for beginners.Ukumehame (Honoapiilani Hwy. near mile marker 12), also called "Thousand Peaks," is one of the better beginners' spots. You'll soon see how the spot got its name—the waves here break again and again in wide and consistent rows, giving lots of room for beginning and intermediate surfers.

Other good surf spots in West Maui include "Grandma's" atPapalaua Park, just after the pali (cliff)—where waves are so easy a grandma could ride 'em; Puamana Beach Park for a mellow longboard day; and Lahaina Harbor, which offers an excellent inside wave for beginners (called "Breakwall"), as well as the more-advanced outside (a great lift if there's a big south swell).
For advanced wave riders, Hookipa Beach Park (2 mi past Paia on Hana Hwy., 96779) boasts several well-loved breaks, including "Pavilions," "Lanes," "the Point," and "Middles." Surfers have priority until 11 am, when windsurfers move in on the action. Competition is stiff here, and the attitudes can be "agro." If you don't know what you're doing, consider watching from the shore.

You can get the wave report each day by checking page 2 of the Maui News, logging onto the Glenn James weather site, or calling808/871-5054 (for the weather forecast) or808/877-3611 (for the surf report).

On the Sidelines

Even if you aren't a surfer, watching is just as fun (well, almost).Hookipa Beach Park (2 mi past Paia on Hana Hwy., 96779) gives you the perfect grassy overlook to see all the action—pro surf, windsurf, and kiters abound. Near-perfect waves can be seen at Honolua Bay, on the northern tip of West Maui. To get there, continue 2 mi north of D. T. Fleming Park on Route 30 and take a left onto the dirt road next to a pineapple field; a path leads down the cliff to the beach. In December, the Billabong Pro invites female wave riders to compete at Honolua Bay.

Equipment and Lessons

Goofy Foot.
 Surfing "goofy foot" means putting your right foot forward. They might be goofy, but we like the right-footed gurus here. Their safari shop is just plain cool and only steps away from "Breakwall," a great beginner's spot in Lahaina. Two-hour classes with five or fewer students are $65, and six-hour classes with lunch and an ocean-safety course are $300. They promise you'll be standing within a two-hour lesson—or it's free. Owner and "stoke broker" Tim Sherer offers private lessons for $200 and will sometimes ride alongside to record video clips and give more-thorough feedback. 505 Front St., Suite 123, Lahaina,96761. 808/244-9283.

Nancy Emerson School of Surfing.
 Nancy's motto is "If my dog can surf, so can you." Instructors here will get even the most shaky novice riding with their "Learn to Surf in One Lesson" program. A two-hour group lesson (five students max) is $78. Nancy currently lives in Australia, but private lessons with her equally qualified instructors are $165-$200 for two hours. Semiprivate lessons with two people are $130 per person. Multiple-day sessions start at $350. They provide boards and rash guards. 505 Front St., Suite 224B, Lahaina, 96761.808/244-7873.

Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy
Owner Kimo Kinimaka grew up rippin' it with uncle and legendary surfer Titus Kinimaka, so it's no wonder his passion translates to a fun, memorable time at the novice-friendly Lahaina Breakwall. Private lessons are available for $130 and semiprivate for $190 total. Group lessons cost $65 per person. Rash guards and shoes are provided. 117 Prison St., Lahaina, 96761. 808/

Our Favorite:

Maui Wave Riders

MWR is a family owned and operated business. We are dedicated to providing surfing lessons to each student with a fun, safe and unforgettable surf experience. We adapt our style of teaching to the ability of each student. We will go that extra mile to make your surf experience the most memorable highlight of your vacation!


Our Favorite:

Windsurfing School of Maui

Windsurfing School of Maui's instructors are skilled avid windsurfers, with a love of the sport and a dedication to their students' success that makes each lesson us with a satisfying, enriching experience.
 If you're an intermediate to advanced windsurfer, they can tailor design your lesson just the way you want it, to help you with any trouble spots or maneuvers you want to master.
 No matter what you want to accomplish in your windsurfing, a private lesson with one of theirmaster instructors will help you achieve your goal.