Lahaina and the areas south of Lahaina have small waves breaking during most of the year, while summer has the most consistent surf. Most days will only have waves in the waist-high range, but on the best swells of summer the surf can reach overhead.
The most popular surf break in Lahaina is Lahaina Breakwall, located between the 505 shopping center and Lahaina Harbor. This is where most of the Lahaina surf schools operate. All of the surf schools hang out in the shallow inside section, whereas the more experienced surfers sit farther outside. The outside section at small levels can be either a left or a right, although when it gets big on a large summer swell it can turn into a huge left that can grow to 10 feet or larger. During low tide it can get shallow enough here that you need to paddle with your fingertips and your skeg can scrape the bottom, so high tide is the optimal time for those who are concerned about falling. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this spot can get crowded, a fact of life which has earned it the moniker of Snakewall. If you’re a beginning surfer who has rented a board you’re better off going a few miles south to Puamana Beach Park or Guardrails.
Rental Shops and Schools
Inside the 505 shopping center, Goofy Foot (505 Front St., 808/244-9283, 7am-9pm daily, no lessons Sun.) has helped over 100,000 students ride their first wave since opening in 1994. Two-hour lessons are $65/person, and the owner, Tim, often enjoys time on the water as the private surf coach for Jimmy Buffett. For board rentals, expect to pay $20 for two hours or $25 for three hours.
One block away on Prison Street are Royal Hawaiian (117 Prison St., 808/276-7873, 7am-7pm Mon.-Fri., 7am-3:30pm weekends) and Maui Wave Riders (133 Prison St., 808/875-4761, 7am-9pm daily). Royal Hawaiian has been operating since 1996 and Maui Wave Riders since 1997, and all of the instructors are competent and patient professionals who are guaranteed to get you up and riding. Group rates at Royal Hawaiian are $65/person, whereas Maui Wave Riders is cheaper at $60/person and $50 for kids ages 8-12. For rentals, expect to pay $20 for three hours or $30 for the whole day.
Maui Surfer Girls (808/214-0606) is the island’s premier female-only surf camp operator, although they also offer coed group lessons for $75/person. Even though it’s a few dollars more than in town, the lessons take place a few miles south of town along a mellow stretch of beach that isn’t as crowded as Breakwall. All-inclusive one- and two-week classes are offered during select months of the year to empower teenaged girls through the sport of surfing.
To surf in a secluded location in a private group, try Hawaiian Paddle Sports (808/660-4228), which offers completely private lessons. The lessons usually take place along the shoreline south of Lahaina. Since these two-hour lessons are completely private, they are understandably more expensive at $159 for a single person or $109/person for private groups of five or more.
If you’re just looking to rent a board in downtown Lahaina and prefer to teach yourself, you’ll get a better deal if you move a few blocks away from the busy surf schools. The Boss Frog’s (150 Lahainaluna Rd., 808/661-3333, 8am-5pm daily) in the center of town has soft top boards for either $25/day or $75/week, and fiberglass boards are $35/day. Of course, you can’t walk to the surf break from here, so rent or purchase straps for your vehicle.
South of Lahaina
For beginning surfers and longboard riders, the mile-long stretch of coastline between Puamana Beach Park and Launiupoko Beach Park has numerous breaks with mellow waves for beginners. In between the two parks are peaks which are known as Guardrails, Woody’s, and Corner Pockets. While the beach parks and Guardrails have parking on the ocean side of the road, parking for Woody’s is in a dirt lot on the inland side of the highway. There can be small waves here most times of the year, although summer sees the most consistent surf. If you’re a slightly more advanced surfer, park in the lot for Puamana Beach Park and walk the length of shoreline all the way to the right along the Puamana condominium complex. At the far northern end of the beach is another break known as Beaches that offers a fun right point welcoming to visiting surfers.
Or, if you’re an experienced surfer who prefers to ride a shortboard, the wave at Olowalu offers two A-frame peaks that are popular with locals and can get crowded. In a different spot than the snorkeling spot by the same name, the Olowalu surf break is by mile marker 15.5.
At mile marker 12, Ukumehame Beach Park is another break that caters to beginners and longboarders but requires a much longer paddle than places such as Guardrails or Puamana. However, a longer effort means a longer ride. This is a favorite of the island longboarding community. While the beach itself is fairly long, the best waves are found directly in front of the small parking lot.
Tucked right at the base of the cliffs by mile marker 11, Grandma’s is the name of the break on the far southern end of Papalaua Beach Park. This is a playful wave that caters to beginners and longboarders.