Wind and Wave Sports

Living on an ocean playground makes Maui residents passionate about riding waves and wind over water. Maui offers countless beaches from which to take the plunge. Get ready to ride and pick your passion, whether on paddleboard, surfboard, kite or windsurf board, even flyboard or parasail.

Hawai‘i has been at the forefront of most of the water board sports as they’re introduced into the mainstream. It’s only natural, since surfing waves has been part of its culture for centuries. One of the newest forms of board riding is stand-up paddle surfing (SUP). It was patterned after the legendary Waikiki Beach Boys, who used their outrigger canoe paddling skills while surfing the waves at Waikiki. SUP is easier than surfing, combining a wide, stable surfboard with a long-handled paddle for steering and moving. SUP shares some of the same beaches as those known for beginner surfing. In summer and fall, Maui’s south and west shores attract long, gently rolling waves that are ideal for beginners in these sports. Popular westside surf spots at this time of year include: off Highway 30 from 1000 Peaks to Ukumehame Beach and from Launiupoko Beach Park to Puamana Park, Sharkpit and Kamehameha Iki Park. On the south shore, you can join the fun at Cove Park and Kalama Park on South Kihei Road and at Big Beach in Makena State Park.

Intermediate and advanced surfers will appreciate the winter and early spring swells for big wave riding. On the upper westside, you can’t beat popular Honolua Bay for consistently big surf, or Punalau Beach for the challenging Windmills surf spot. During a southern swell, surfers flock to the fast moving Ma‘alaea Pipeline. Just past Pa‘ia, Ho‘okipa Beach Park is known for winter waves as is Pipes at Ku‘au Cove. The place where tow-in and paddle-in big wave surfing started is home to one of the world’s most-anticipated winter waves:  Jaws in the Peahi Valley area on Maui’s north shore.

Blending the acrobatic maneuvers of windsurfing waves with the lift and flair of a kite dancing in the air, kiteboarding has become Maui’s hottest water board sport. The best kite beaches are in the five-mile zone of Kahului Airport runways near Kahului Harbor. Maui Kiteboarding Association maintains Federal Aviation Administration waivers for kitesurfing zones within this controlled airspace. Ka‘a Point, known as Kite Beach, is in a cove off Amala Place that is recognized as one of the top kiteboarding beaches in the world. There are several kite launch spots along this sandy shoreline from the rock pier by the harbor to the old pavilion by the campground.

There are two kite beaches on the south shore:  Keawakapu, the last beach on South Kihei Road, and Waipuilani near the Maui Sunset. In West Maui, Ukumehame Beach Park, a windswept stretch off Highway 30, is good for kiting in southerly winds. North of Ka‘anapali, the Kahana Beach area near Pohaku Park is popular when northerly and southerly winds are strong. At Kapalua Resort, windy Ironwoods Beach and DT Fleming Beach Park are great kiteboarding spots.

When winds blow from the northeast and hit the north shore, conditions are perfect for windsurfing at these beaches:  Kanaha Beach Park in Central Maui near Kahului Harbor is one of the best places for windsurfers of any level. The white sand beach at Sprecklesville, off Hana Highway between Kahului Airport and Pa‘ia, is where advanced windsurfers go out. Ho‘okipa Beach Park is home to the pro contests and preferred by many expert windsurfers. Its steady trade winds and consistent surf make windsurfing optimum at any time of year.

Jet skiing and flyboarding offer thrill rides that are available on Maui from May 16 to December 14. A cross between snowboarding and waterskiing with underwater dives and airlifts, flyboarding is the latest thrill watersport. A jet skiboard is attached to 60 feet of hose. Board riders are taught how to surf through the sky and dive like a dolphin, or just float through the air five feet above the water’s surface. Your skill and the sky’s the limit. Jet skiing is fun for all ages, combining speed, driving maneuverability and agility while skimming across the water in a jet-propelled craft. Maui’s jet ski platform is located off the south end of Ka‘anapali Beach across from Hanakao‘o Park.

For a more passive yet surreal water experience, try parasailing, which lifts you above the deep blue sea, providing dramatic bird’s-eye views. Customized boats have a launch pad with hydraulic system to gently pull you up in a parachute from the deck and allow you to soar between 800 and 1,200 feet in the air. Take-offs and landings are easy; for those who don’t want to fly solo, try a tandem flight. Parasailing is also offered from May 16 to December 14.