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The Ultimate Guide to Surfing Maui

Maui — known as the Valley Isle — could also be nicknamed the surfing isle.


Maybe it doesn't have the same ring to it, but it’s no doubt Maui is home to some world class waves.


Much like the surrounding islands, Maui is home to a variety of breaks and even offers a world class big wave for the chargers out there.


It may not have the seven mile miracle but it still has Honolua Bay, one of the best point breaks in the world.


On top of the great waves, its surf culture is amazing and has produced some great talent over the years.


Allow us to run down all the essentials of surfing in Maui.


What’s So Special About Surfing in Maui?

Maui's Waves

The waves on Maui are no joke.

The Valley Isle offers some of the best waves in the world. On the north shore is the premiere big wave spot, Pe’ahi or Jaws.


Then on the northwest side of the island is Honolua Bay.


Both of these spots usually get going in the winter during a big north or northwest swell.


Besides its two world class waves, Maui is home to a couple of other great waves that deserve as much attention.


Maui is a great place to learn how to surf as well, offering small slow rolling waves at some spots.


Maui's Surf Culture

Surf media usually chooses to focus its attention on the waves and surfers over on Oahu but Maui has made a legit case as a breeding ground for professional surfers.


Surfers like Kai Lenny, Billy Kemper, and Clay Marzo all hail from Maui.


On top of the professional talent, Maui also has a tight knit community of locals that take extreme pride in their surfers and waves.

Spots like Honolua can get crowded and competitive when it starts to pump.


Much like the other islands it takes lots of humility and respect to surf here and one must put in their time to surf the best spots.


Equipment Needed to Surf Maui

Similarly to the rest of the islands on Hawaii, not much cold water gear is needed to surf on Maui.


A rash guard would probably be great for longer sessions with howling winds.

Occasionally in the winter months during a morning session a 2-3mm wetsuit top would be good for warmth.




However, Hawaii is known for its warm waters so take advantage of it and surf in your trunks or bikini.


The 5 Best Surf Spots in Maui

Honolua

Not only the best wave in Maui but one of the best waves in the world, Honolua Bay is a great right handed reef point break located on the northwest coast of Maui.

This wave offers surfers a ride nearly a quarter mile long with plenty of turn and tube sections.


Honolua is usually only pumping during the winter months and summertime can be pretty flat. A northwest or northeast swell is needed to get Honolua going.


Locals are fairly protective of this wave and it's really only reserved for the best surfers on Maui and in the world.


Jaws/Peahi

One of the best big waves in the world, Jaws or Peahi is not for the faint of heart.


Only charged by the best big wave surfers, Jaws is considered the birthplace of tow-in surfing.


Laird Hamilton and a crew of big wave surfers wanted to figure out a way to catch some of the biggest waves that Jaws would bring in, so they started to tow themselves into waves using a jet ski.

This wave should mostly be spectated rather than surfed.


Unless you're Kai Lenny, watch this wave from the cliffs as it’s extremely dangerous to even the most experienced surfers.


Ho’okipa Beach

Also on the northeast shore of the valley isle, Ho’okipa is a solid exposed reef break.




There are both right and lefts at Ho’okipa and is a little more manageable than Honolua or Pe’ahi.


This beach is known for picking up some wild winds but when they turn offshore, it gets really good.

The winds here also provide windsurfers with a great opportunity to catch waves as well.


When the offshores are paired with a northeast swell, Ho’okipa can get fairly crowded with both locals and tourists.


Tourists are more welcome here compared to other spots but as always please show respect and etiquette.


Kahului Harbor

Kahului is another exposed reef break located on the northwest side of the island.


Kahului is one of the most populated towns on the island and its harbor has some solid waves for more experienced surfers.

The breaks here work great on a solid north swell and when it gets going it offers a barrel or two and a rippable ramp.


However, since it's located in a harbor the water is subject to pollution and can be quite dirty, especially after it rains.


On top of the dirty water, wildlife like urchins and sharks are known to be prevalent in the harbor. If you can get past the dirty water and wildlife then Kahului is a great wave for a more experienced surfer.


Lahaina Harbor/ Breakwall

On the west side of Maui is Lahaina Harbor and Breakwall. Breakwall is a great beginner spot located in the Lahaina Harbor and is extremely consistent.


However when a west or northwest swell catches Breakwall it can get really good. It offers both rights and lefts and is rippable when the right swell comes in.


Since this spot is one of the better beginner spots on the island, the local crowd isn’t bad at all.


Like Kahului Harbor, the water here can be unpredictable after a long period of rains but for the most part it's a great year round wave that usually gives you something to surf.


What To Do In Maui When the Waves Are Flat

The beauty of living on an island is that there’s usually waves or a swell wrapping in on any side of the island.


However, for those days that are completely flat around the entire island, Maui offers visitors with plenty to do.

Snorkeling or diving is a great activity and during the summer the world class Honolua Bay becomes a great place to snorkel and see some ocean life.


Hiking is also another great option in Maui.




The famed Haleakala is hikeable and offers an 11 mile trek but should be explored by only the most experienced hikers.


Then of course there is the picturesque Road to Hana, a beautiful 64 mile drive on the west and east coast of the island.


However, if you are prone to car-sickness maybe steer clear of this activity as the road is extremely windy and unpredictable.


Surfing in Maui

So maybe the valley isle really is the surfing isle, especially with the diversity of waves it offers.

Maui is probably the most diverse island when it comes to waves, primarily because it offers one the best big waves in the world.


With a culture as amazing as its waves, Maui is a great alternative to the fast paced and often overcrowded surf of Oahu.


Looking for more Hawaii surf guides? Check our our Big Island Surf Guide, and our take on Hawaii's best waves.

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