Ok, so you’ve just arrived on Maui for your 10 day vacation, and on your short list of Must-Dos while in Hawaii – take a surfing lesson. While this may be the start of your new favorite hobby, in all reality this may be the one and only time you get on a surfboard. Because there’s not a lot of waves back where you live. And that’s OK. We just think you should have the best experience on your trip, and during your lesson.
You’ve checked the websites, Tripadvisor and the guidebooks, but really, how do you pick your Maui surf school? Is it the one with the best photography? The most reviews online? The cheapest?
Here are our Top Five criteria to be looking for when deciding on a company for your surf lesson.
1. Experience of the Staff
This can be a hard one to judge. There are always new surf schools popping up all over the island, but check out the company’s website. The best schools with the best staff include bios of their instructors. We are proud to say that most of our instructors have been with Maui Surfer Girls for over 7 years and are highly experienced surfers and instructors. We are a family who enjoy teaching other families how to surf!
Other companies will also offer a huge range of activities from canoe paddling, kayaking, snorkeling etc, but we offer surfing and stand up paddling. That’s it – because that’s what we are good at!
Most of Maui’s surf lessons take place in either Lahaina or Kihei, at crowded breaks, with students crammed in not only with other surfers, but with other schools! Maui Surfer Girls is one of the only surf schools with a permit to teach at Ukumehame Beach Park, our main location. The other name for Ukumehame is Thousand Peaks, which isn’t hard to see why. There are several spots where we can surf, but typically, we are among the only surfers at our spot! During the week, we often have the whole beach to ourselves! Ukumehame is located between Kihei and Lahaina, making it convenient no matter where on the island you are staying.
Maui Surfer Girls has had a permit from the County of Maui Parks and Recreation since 2001 to teach surfing and stand up paddling, but many of the new surf schools do not, as the County stopped issuing school permits for Maui in 2004. What does this mean? Unpermitted schools could be shut down at any time by the either the County Park Rangers or a Hawaii State Land and Natural Resource officer. Our surf school is regulated by the County to insure our instructors have First Aid and CPR, ocean and cultural awareness training. While this may result in higher lesson rates, you can rest assured that your permitted school is running with all the proper safety and legal requirements in place.
4. Class size
Some schools will cram as many students as they can into a class! With Maui Surfer Girls, our lessons have a 4:1 student to instructor ratio (the smallest in the industry!) And if you book a semi-private lesson, it is guaranteed to be in a class with just family or group.
Something you will learn about in your surf lesson – the waves are breaking in shallow waters, usually because they are over a coral reef. Some surf instructors (we won’t mention names!) will stand on this reef and push you into a wave. While this might be good for your wave riding, it is definitely bad for the reef! The reef at Ukumehame is not only living, its one of the healthiest reefs around the island! Our skilled instructors will paddle next to you to coach you and give you a hand when needed! MSG’s founder, Dustin Tester, grew up surfing on Maui and is dedicated to making sure the reef is just as healthy for the next generation.
And finally, yes, look at the reviews! No one is going to be more honest than former students.