Named for the mythological demi-god who fished the Hawaiian Islands out of the ocean with a magic hook, Maui is an island rife with mystery and legend. A veritable hotbed for hippie communes in the late ’60s and ’70s, the island has always had a taste for the transcendental—just ask anyone who has locked into a life-changing freight train barrel at Ma’alaea, witnessed the country perfection of Honolua Bay, or taken a Peahi bomb on the head. Despite its popularity with the tourists, Maui wears its “outer island” status with pride. But if Innersection winners and XXL awards are any indication, however, the Valley Isle might just be the center of progressive surfing’s next chapter.
The Surf: Although best known for 50-foot heroics and unmakeably fast right hand barrels, Maui does have tamer waves on offer as well. Nonetheless, the island is by and large an intermediate to expert surf zone.
Five Waves Worth Surfing:
- Honolua Bay: The granddaddy of all tropical reef points, Honolua was considered the perfect wave in the early ’70s, and anyone who has been lucky enough to score an empty bowl at this right hand anomaly will tell you the dream is still alive and well more than 40 years later.
- Ma’alaea: The world’s fastest right, or its most glorified closeout? It depends on the day, but when this wave is on, there are few in that can compare. Every long, fast, down the line barrel in existence owes its descriptor to this original “Freight Train” reef.
- Peahi (Jaws): Although this wave is beyond the skill set (and desire) of most surfers, it is one of the most watchable big wave arenas in existence, so post up on the cliff and bear witness to the world’s best watermen doing their thing.
- Ho’okipa: A right hand reef point that suffers from strong, consistent sideshore winds—making it one of the most popular kite- and windsurf waves in existence.
- Lahaina Harbor: A user-friendly left reef, this wave is centrally located in Lahaina town and is popular with the kids and weekend warrior crew.
The Water: A bit dirty in Lahaina and other developed areas, but that is to be expected. Everywhere else is the typical Hawaiian-blue water we have come to expect. Surface temperatures range from 75–81 F (24–27 C).
The Season: Maui has epic waves on both sides of the island. For Jaws and Honolua, north swells come between November and March. For Ma’alaea and Lahaina Harbor, you’ll be looking for summer south swells between May and August.
The Vibe: Like all Hawaiian outer islands, Maui enjoys the fact that it is relatively obscure and unknown. Give the locals respect, keep your head in and don’t bring a crowd.
Things To Do: Haleakala Crater is an incredible experience, containing a harsh moonscape dotted with the striking plant species exclusive to the region, such as the endangered Silversword. Another nice outing is a day trip to beautiful Hana.
Where To Stay: Maui is a popular tourist destination, and has many high-end hotels and other accommodations. There is also a big backpacker scene, dating back to the island’s early hippie days, so your options range from five-star hotels to a tent in a commune.
What To Bring: A shortboard and a step-up. A big wave gun if you are coming for Jaws and a kiteboard or windsurfer if you are heading to Ho’okipa. Hiking shoes for a Haleakala walk. Your favorite hash pipe and tie-dye shirt.
Getting There: Honolulu International Airport is the main gateway into the state of Hawaii, and from there you will catch an interisland flight (typically on Hawaiian Airlines) to Maui’s Kahului Airport. (Maui also receives direct flights from a handful of cities on the US mainland.) American visa rules apply in Hawaii. Airport codes: HNL (Honolulu) and OGG (Kahului).