A gentle, warm-water cove located practically in the center of South Kihei makes it convenient to experience the thrill of gliding across a wave, and rental operations with excellent local instructors make sure that just about anyone succeeds in standing up and riding a wave or two.
South Kihei’s “Cove” is a protected inlet with a natural reef break, with mostly small to moderate waves. On most days dozens of student surfers trade positions in a sometimes-chaotic lineup that works despite its sometimes-intimidating crowd of beginners. Instructors are trained to keep things safe and mellow and make sure that everyone has their best chance at experiencing the sport, and they’re very good at it. From grade schooler to Granny, almost anyone can learn to surf here.
The Cove is located by Kalama Park, to the north of Charlie Young Beach. Get all-inclusive lessons or rent a board at one of several trucks the parking lot, or across the street at Maui WaveRiders. Check conditions before going out: you won’t have as much fun if the wind is blowing. Waves should be clean and sporadic, not constant and wind-blown. On flat days, instructors often give the process a human hand with a strategic push to get things in motion, which also isn’t as much fun as riding a small, natural wave, but is way better than never experiencing surfing.
You can get away from the swarm at The Cove by hanging to the right (facing the water). It’s a bit of a paddle, but worth it on good days. Or, drive the shoreline toward Lahaina, and follow the action – there are lots of great spots. Google Grandma’s and Thousand Peaks.
There is a particular island buzz in the air when the big waves hit the North Shore in the winter months. About an hour from Kihei, past the sleepy surf town of Paia, Maui’s North Shore is world famous for monster waves on some days. An elite international contingent of serious, big-wave surfers challenge monster faces – which can rise to 60 feet — on the rare days when “Jaws” breaks. Hookipa Park, a few miles past Paia, is a destination for elite windsurfers, kiters, and surfers, and the close-range show is well worth watching when the waves are going off.
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