Maui is one of the world’s best destinations for surfing, and surfing in South Maui is a truly fun activity. If you refer to the map of Maui, you will find that much of South Maui faces the west. This means that the area gets waves at any time of the year. The southwest swells in summer will bring in the best waves, although the large winter swells can gather into some areas in South Maui, allowing surfers to enjoy “out of season” surf.
Depending on your skill level, you will find plenty of options for a fun surfing experience in South Maui. If you are a complete beginner, The Cove in South Kihei is perfect for you. But if your surfing skill is more advanced, there are plenty of spots for you to check out.
Ma‘alaea is a popular tourist destination in South Maui as its home to the Maui Ocean Center. It is also home to a boat harbor, which is conveniently located between the Kahului Airport and the resort areas of Kaanapali and Lahaina.
Summer is the only time that there will be waves in Maalaea. But the most consistent waves can be found in a spot known as “Off the Wall”. This is an A-frame peak that directly breaks across the harbor wall. Usually, you can only surf here in the morning hours just before the afternoon trade winds start to howl. When going to this area, you can park at the dirt parking area at the end of the beak wall. From here, you can paddle towards the peak. While it is not the best break in South Maui, you can enjoy short but fun rides here.
Another popular spot for surfing in Maalaea is a place called McGregor Point, which is located about one kilometer up the highway that goes towards Lahaina. The McGregor Point features long waves that are best enjoyed in the afternoon when the wind starts to come up. This area is only a few minutes away from the best vacation rentals in Maalaea Bay. To reach the shore, you may have to pass through a narrow and steep trail and this can be somewhat challenging if you are bringing a longboard.
The Cove is considered the surfing epicenter of Kihei. It’s located at the south of Kalama Beach Park, where you will find several surfing schools offering lessons to surfers of all levels. Since the waves here are gentler, the area is often crowded with surfers. The best way to avoid the crowd is to come here early morning, just before the surfers start to show up for their surfing lessons. If you are a beginner and your main goal is to learn surfing, then this is where you should go. Consider staying at one of the condos of South Kihei if you want easy access to this place.
For the more advanced surfers, you should head right next to the Kihei Boat Ramp, where you will find the best waves in an A-frame. This area has fickle waves that need the big southwest swell to start working. When surfing in this area, you also need to be mindful of the presence of boats coming in and out of the harbor. Accessing the area can also be tricky since you will not be allowed to walk in the sand that runs along the shore.
The best place for short boarding in Kihei is at the Sidewalks, located on the southern end of Keawakapu Beach, which is only a short 10-min stroll from the Palms at Wailea. This beach features a fast wave, perfect for short boarding. But the vibe in this area is not nearly as localized as the one in Kihei Boat Ramp. Nevertheless, it features intermediate waves that are not suitable for beginners and those who are into longboard surfing.
If you are staying in the Wailea area of South Maui, one of the surfing spots that you should visit is the Stouffer’s, located in the northern part of Mokapu Beach. It features a local A-frame peak, which is great for intermediate short borders. The area can pick up southwest swells during summer while large west swells happen in the winter.
The Stouffer’s is close to Keawakapu Beach, which is just a few minute’s drive away from most of the luxury vacation condos in Wailea. There’s a parking area at the south of the beach. You can also park at the bottom of Ulua Beach Road.
Another less popular surfing spot in Wailea is the area at the southern end of Polo Beach, which is more suitable for intermediate short boarding.
Rental Shops and Schools
If your main purpose in going to South Maui is to learn surfing, it is highly recommended that you stay in the areas of Kihei, close to The Cove. Here, you will find plenty of surf operators in a single block. But despite the various options, it is best to make a reservation in advance.
Most of the surfing lessons in The Cove take place in the morning, between 8 AM and 11 AM, just before the trade winds start to set in. All operators provide the standard two-hour surfing lessons. If you believe that you are ready to move past the “learning phase” and would like to advance to the next level, you can avail of the “surf safaris”, where an expert surfer will act as your personal guide for the day.
Surfing in Maui is a truly fun activity. And as you can see above, there are various surfing spots in the area where you can enjoy surfing, depending on your skill level. To make the most of your surfing holiday, consider staying at one of the vacation rentals in South Maui. This is especially recommended if you plan on staying longer on the island to hone your surfing skills. Staying at vacation rentals is a great way to save money for long-term stays. Whether you plan on surfing in Kihei, Ma‘alaea, or Wailea, you will find plenty of vacation rentals close to these areas.