Beginner Surf Spots on Maui
So you’ve tried surfing a few times, and you are hooked. It happens. You are feeling pretty confident in your home break, but now it’s time to check out a new location, or maybe you are new to surfing on Maui. Here are a few surf spots around Maui that our staff recommend for beginner to intermediate surfing experience. We’ve included where to find it, and the Google street view so you have an idea of the beach/access whenever possible. Also, checking out the Maui surf report beforehand is always a good idea.
Disclaimer: Conditions change daily, and with wind, wave and tide conditions, so spend a while checking out the waves before you paddle out. If in doubt, don’t go out.
And another word of caution from Kelly Potts: Surfing anywhere in Hawai’i you will be surfing over reef, as well as all the creatures (sea urchins called Wana in Hawaiian) that live around it. DO NOT WALK ON OR TOUCH THE BOTTOM! If you do touch the bottom or walk on the reef you will get cut by reef or punctured by wana. Make sure to land flat to avoid contact with the bottom, and to avoid harming that beautiful living reef. The locals will respect you for it! Have fun and be safe!
Recommended Reading: Check out our Beginner Surf Tips
During the summer, MSG’s founder Dustin Tester recommends Puamana or Thousand Peaks.
Puamana Beach Park
- Dustin says: Puamana is a safe place away from the crowds that can form at Launiupoko. Of course our location at Ukumehame, “1000 Peaks” is also amazing, but can be a long paddle out if you’re new to surfing.
- Find it/ Google Street View
- Where to Park: There’s a small parking lot that gets full if there’s decent waves or during peak hours, but there’s ample parking along the highway.
- What to watch for: shallow coral, wana (sea urchins)
- Best for: Summer, short paddles, waving to your friends on the shore!
- Dustin Says: The cove is good for little kids, but can be crowded with surf schools. If you go around sunset you can avoid the surf school crowd.
- Find it / Google Street View
- Where to Park: There’s a parking lot all the way to the right, Iliili Road just off South Kihei Road, or anywhere along S. Kihei Road. The parking lot has a decent beach entry.
- What to watch for: Shallow coral, wana, little kids and other beginners. The trade winds can pick up in the afternoon as well.
- Best for: Summer, little kids…
In the Winter, Dustin recommends Kahului Harbor or Kanaha Beach Park
- Dustin says: There’s a nice peak in the middle of the harbor, not next to the boat ramp. It’s a fun little long boarding wave and you can grab a yummy plate lunch from one of the several food trucks parked near the harbor along the lower beach road.
- Find it /Google Street View
- Where to Park: There’s ample parking along the harbor, just leave plenty of room for the trucks picking up and launching their boats, and give them plenty of room to park.
- Where to launch: The boat ramp can be slippery, especially when carrying a board, so launching off the dock itself is recommended (follow Dave) —>
- What to watch for: This place can get pretty big during a large north swell. Look out for boat traffic when paddling through or surfing near the marked channel.
- Best for: Winter swells, More intermediate level surfers, nice selection of food trucks for post-surf appetites.
Kanaha Beach Park
- Dustin says: On a smaller swell day it’s a fun long boarding and SUP wave. It’s a really long paddle out, so be prepared to get in a good work out. But once you get out there it’s one of the longest rights on the north shore. It can get packed with SUP-ers but since it’s a long wave, you can usually scoop up the leftovers off the shoulder. It’s an easy drop-in with a long open face to practice carving on. Just be conscious about the trade winds filling in during the afternoons. Also save a little gas in the tank to paddle back in after your session.
- Find it / Google Street View
- Where to Park: Look for the canoe hale and the sand volleyball courts. Also smart to look for lots of cars with surfboards… usually a good clue that its a good day.
- What to watch for: This place is best on a light wind morning. The waves can get really big here (it is the north shore after all!) and most people will start heading in as soon as the wind starts picking up.
- Best for: Winter Swells, A great cardio workout, plus its the only beach on this list that has a lifeguard tower, so you can always check in with the lifeguards (8am – 4:30pm) before you head out. But they won’t come tow you in just because you are tired…
Launiopoko Beach Park
Kelly Potts says: I always recommend surfing Launiupoko because it’s a beginner friendly place. There are plenty of different peaks at the park, so the crowd can spread out. When looking out to the ocean, the peak farthest to the left, in front of the beach, is a great place for beginners since they won’t need to worry about “being in the way,” which is what I think most beginners are concerned about.
- Find it/Google Street View
- Where to Park: The parking lot on the beach side of the highway tends to fill up quickly, so its recommended to drop your gear off at the beach first, then park in the parking lot on the opposite side of the highway.
- Where to launch: The beach area to the left of the restrooms.
- What to watch for: Shallow coral, wana, other beginners
- Best for: Beginners, BBQers, families, monk seal spotting…
And finally, Lucy recommends both S-Turns and Kahului Harbor for winter waves: For beginners it can be a hard step to start surfing waves that are bigger and more powerful than they are used to. These two winter spots are great places to push your limits safety. Why I suggest both of these locations is that they both have great big channels. Often times with bigger surf, getting out to the break is half the battle. At both of these locations large channels make it easier to paddle out to the waves. Depending on conditions both of these breaks can elevate to intermediate advanced. When surfing a new location always assess the conditions before paddling out. One of the greatest things to watch for when you are trying a new surf location is paying attention to where people are paddling out. Secondly, observe the surfers, if there are people surfing at your similar level hit the water. If everyone out surfing is drastically more skilled it may not be the best time to try out a new break. Even if you are surfing the smallest of waves just paddling out gives you a bit more experience in the water. Feeling intimidated by people catching more waves than you is perfectly normal, I always say if you catch three thats a surf session.
S-Turns / Pohaku Park
- How to find it / Google Street View
Where to Park: Pahaku Beach Park – its small beach park & parking lot off of the Lower Honopiilani rd.
Where to launch: there’s a storm drain with a small sandy beach to the south of the parking lot.
What to watch for: murky water…
Best for: Intermediates..super fun a-frame wave with rights and lefts. Long rides. Gentle take off. Mellow crowd. Whale watching and rainbows…