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Maui Surf Spots & Reports
We’ve listed below some of the more popular surf spots on Maui. Discussing the location of secret Maui Surf Spots could get us into serious trouble, so here are some surf locations and descriptions of waves that most people on island already know about.
IMPORTANT: Remember safety should always be your first priority. If you doubt, don’t paddle out!
Honolua • Olowalu • Hoʻokipa • Maʻalaea • Lahaina • Peʻahi (Jaws)
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Maui Surf Spots
The most popular yet fickle waves on Maui are those found at Honolua Bay. Surfing Honolua Bay on a good day can be the best experience of your life. Though, keep in mind that you’ll be surfing with 1,000 other guys and girls who probably surf better than you. These locals will, without hesitation, make a good day bad if you do something wrong. The wave at Honolua Bay is made up of 3 main parts. There are other portions of the wave, though not always present. You can watch some great footage of Honolua Bay and other surf spots at our Maui Surf Videos.
Usually a little smaller than the Cave, the point is usually filled with groms and girls that rip. The wave is a little more forgiving and holds relatively the same size through to the cave. It usually closes out before the cave.
Named after the hole in the reef that swallows surfers, the Cave is the growling beast that you wish was your pet. This spot jacks up and moves around depending on the swell. It peaks out in front of the rock cliff, and on certain swells and tides, if you lose it, you may find yourself as an addition to the cliff. The Cave can throw the most machine-like barrel you’ll ever see. It can be perfect, which makes it increasingly difficult to get a wave from the pack.
After a long good section, the wave begins to bend into a racy bowl. If you don’t have enough speed going into the bend, it will pick you up and slam you. Keiki Bowls is a fast-moving, shallow wave that breaks a couple of feet deep or less over a sharp reef. For surfing, it’s usually reserved for racing. Mostly, this area is surfed by bodyboarders and groms that don’t mind the loss of size and shallow bottom. On the best days, all three of these sections will connect and give you the longest wave of your life.
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Just off the Honoapiilani Highway, Olowalu is the easiest spot to access on the island. You can literally go from driving on the highway to riding a wave in less than 2 minutes. When the right West or wrapping North Swell comes in, you’ll find a fast split peak breaking in silty water. The waves immediately around it can be fun too. If there are more than 15 guys at the peak, you’ll find it difficult to get a wave. Caution: These waters are known to be some of the “sharkiest” around.
Pavilions is a right-hander that can get really good. This is the local spot with the most rippers out. The wave can throw a really clean barrel and open up for some fun gashes.
Middles breaks both left and right but mostly left. This wave can set up good on certain swells but usually closes out over the shallow reef.
The Point goes mostly right and can get really good. This is usually the most crowded spot at Hoʻokipa, but the shift in the waves can allow more surfers to catch them.
Lanes is off to the West and takes a little paddling. This surf spot is a fun left-hander that tends to be a little mushier when small if it works at all. With size, this left can throw fun barrels. Entrance and exit to Hoʻokipa’s line-up can be done in only 2 spots at either end of the beach. Exposed reef makes it impossible to come in anywhere else.
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Freight Trains – Maʻalaea
Maʻalaea Harbor’s claim to fame is often referred to as the fastest right-hander in the world. If you haven’t surfed it, then you may have false confidence. Large barreling sections are regularly made, but the entire wave has yet to be ridden from beginning to end. It takes a special kind of South to make this magic spot work, and when it gets overhead, you can expect to see the pros from all islands coming to try their hand. The wave is fun here because even when crowded, you can get a piece of it. One wave can treat 10-15 guys to their own barrel on the right day. The wave breaks on a shallow reef and halfway down it has a projecting coral-covered pinnacle that can ruin your day quickly.
Lahaina and the harbor have surf spots all over. The best waves are found on the left and right sides of the jetty. Predominantly lefts, these waves can work both ways and break in very shallow water. The water is a little polluted due to the regular flow of boats out of the harbor.
Peʻahi – Jaws
Peʻahi breaks only a few times a year. It needs monster North swell to jar this beast awake. You’ll begin to see some life when it gets over 15-20 feet. Jet skis are a necessity once it reaches really big sizes. The land in front of it is privately owned, so don’t try and find it unless you have someone with you that knows the area and can get permission. As far as surfing this wave, Laird Hamilton and his boys have begun organizing Jaws so that the only times that it’s rideable, they’ll be holding an invitation-only surf contest. The good thing is that this will alleviate the congestion of jet skis and surfers which can make it even more dangerous to surf. The bad thing is that the wave will be closed off to most people that would like to surf it. Though it really isn’t that bad because most people who want to surf it really shouldn’t.