If you’ve ever watched an epic surf movie like The Endless Summer and become convinced you should move to an island and hang ten, you’re not alone. Maui draws surfers from all over the world thanks to the plethora of exhilarating, world-famous breaks on the island. But all surfers have to start somewhere, right? Even if your vacation plans don’t involve becoming an overnight surf sensation, you should at least give surfing a try to partake in the full Maui experience.
While Maui is home to some truly legendary waves, beginner and intermediate spots also abound. Most Maui surf spots for beginners are located on the south and west side of the island. The waves are best in the summer months when a south swell hits, bringing consistent, rolling waves and plenty of opportunities to glide toward the shore on your board. However, always keep in mind that ever-changing ocean conditions influenced by rip tides, currents, wind, and inclement weather can cause this week’s beginner wave to become treacherous the next. If in doubt, don’t go out!
The best waves for beginners will have a 1-2 foot face, while intermediate surfers may be able to handle bigger sets. Other than the size of the wave, what generally classifies these Maui surf locations as beginner or intermediate is that they are known for having a friendly, noncompetitive atmosphere, which allows visitors to learn the ins and outs without any pressure.
If you’re looking for the ultimate beginner experience, The Cove in Kihei is your best option. The waves here are usually predictable and gentle. In fact, they can sometimes be too small to catch, but checking the surf report before going will help you decide whether or not it’s a solid day at The Cove. Right across the street, you can rent a board or sign up for a lesson at Maui Wave Riders. The Cove can get quite crowded, especially during the summer months, but for the most part you’ll be surrounded by brand new surf enthusiasts like yourself.
Thousand Peaks, or “Thousands,” is another great spot for catching waves with the help of an instructor. The Hawaiian name of this beach access is Ukumehame, and it’s right off the Pali (the road connecting Maalaea and Lahaina) near mile marker 12. The views here are unmatched with clear blue water and views of the beautiful West Maui Mountains. Thousands is unique for its variety of different waves, providing opportunities for both beginner and intermediate surfers. If you’re unsure where to surf, take some time to watch the different surfers to find which area suits your skill level. For those brand new to surfing, it’s highly recommended that you surf Thousands after receiving instruction from one of several surf schools that provide lessons at this break—Maui Surfer Girls is a great choice. Thousands can bring chill waves, but it’s also not uncommon to find yourself in overhead conditions. This is also a spot that’s regularly enjoyed by locals, so to keep your session incident-free, approach the lineup with respect . . . or don’t paddle out at all.
This park is a catch-all for beach entertainment. At Launiupoko, you’ll join the company of locals and tourists alike. The sandy entry point makes for easy water access, and the water is generally pretty shallow. While the waves are beginner-friendly, this area does have some rocks and reef to avoid. Also, because it’s a favored surf spot that breaks consistently, both the water and parking lot can be quite crowded. However, different peaks ensure there are plenty of waves to go around, and there’s additional parking located on the other side of the highway.
Located right by Lahaina Harbor, this spot is a classic beginner and intermediate spot in Maui. With that said, if a swell hits and larger waves are breaking, it’s best to leave this spot to the locals. The waves at Breakwall are relatively easy to catch, mainly because they’ll often catch you first! With multiple surf schools in the surrounding area, you’ll be in good company. Just beware of the rock retaining wall and shallow conditions at low tide. If you’re conscientious of your location in the water at all times, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
As far as scenic surf spots go, it doesn’t get better than this! Kaanapali is a Maui gem with golden sand, crystal blue water, and a prime view of Lanai. The easiest landmark to point you toward the best surfing area is the Marriott. Just to the right of this hotel, the waves are beginner-friendly. Island Style Adventures is right there on the water to provide you with a board and/or lesson.
Know Before You Go
These spots have the potential to provide the perfect Maui surfing experience for beginners, but this will not always be the case. While it’s beneficial to check the surf report, perhaps the best thing you can do is find an instructor or a local and ask what the buzz is on any given day. Another indicator of conditions is whether or not anyone else is in the water. If you arrive at a surf spot and there’s no one else surfing, there’s likely a valid reason why. And again, always stick to Maui’s prevailing motto when it comes to ocean safety . . . if in doubt, don’t go out. If conditions are questionable, it’s always wise to play it safe on the shore.
Get the full Maui experience and give surfing a try! You never know, you just might be a natural. Either way, a day spent in the water with breathtaking Maui views is never a day wasted. Get stoked. It’s time to catch some waves!
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If you’re ready to enjoy all that Maui has to offer in an everyday kind of way, check out these listings and don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’d be happy to help you find a place to call your own near your favorite break—or any other lifestyle-oriented landmark you have in mind.