In South Maui, you’ll find plenty of outfitters and instructors ready to give you a lesson based on your existing skill set; choosing who to go with is more of a challenge. Below you’ll find a round-up of all the schools in the area to help you choose, as well as the best places to rent a board if you’re ready to strike out on your own.
The only rental shop for surfboards in Ma‘alaea is Da Beach House (300 Ma‘alaea Rd., 808/986-8279, 10am-5:30pm daily) inside the Ma‘alaea Harbor Shops. Surfboards rent for $25/day or $75/week, and there are stand-up paddleboards for $40/day or $125/week. There are also boogie boards and beach chairs, and this is a good place to pick up a board if you’re planning on surfing some of the beginner breaks on the road toward Lahaina. Since most of the boards are of the “soft top” variety which caters to beginner surfers, however, there isn’t anywhere within Ma‘alaea itself that you could ever hope to use one.
When it comes to surf lessons in Kihei, there’s only one place to go, and that’s The Cove. This is the best place on the island for lessons because the water is just the right depth, it’s a gentle wave, and rarely is it completely flat. Although heading here for a lesson is the obvious choice, finding out exactly who to go with is more of an undertaking.
In the area surrounding The Cove there are no fewer than five or six operators all crammed into the same city block. Even with the wide selection it’s best to make a reservation. Nearly all lessons take place in the morning hours between 8am and noon before the trade winds have filled in, and all operations offer a standard length of two hours for every lesson. If you’ve moved past the phase of learning how to pop up and ride straight, most operations also offer “surf safaris” where they will act as your personal surf guides for the day and take you out to different breaks where the current conditions suit your ability level. The rates for something like this are higher than taking a two-hour lesson.
One of the few places in The Cove area that has an actual shop (as opposed to just a van stacked with boards) is Big Kahuna Adventures (1913 S. Kihei Rd., 808/875-6395, 7:30am-7pm Mon.-Sat., 7:30am-5pm Sun.) inside Kihei Kalama Village. Lessons are the standard $60/person for a two-hour lesson and take place at two different times in the morning. Meet at the surf truck parked across the street from the shop.
Surf Shack (1993 S. Kihei Rd., 808/875-0006, 7:30am-3pm daily) is across the street from The Cove. Park inside the Island Surf building. Lessons are $59 to be in a group of up to six people, or private lessons begin at $125 for a single student and go all the way up to $350 for a private group of 4 ($87.50/person).
When it comes to the “van shops,” one of the largest operations in the area is Maui Wave Riders (1975 S. Kihei Rd., 808/875-4761), a company that also has a Lahaina location and has helped thousands of visitors stand up on their first wave. Lesson rates are $60/person to be included in a group of up to six people, $85/person for a semiprivate lesson, and $140 if you’re looking for some one-on-one instruction.
Although they function on a smaller scale, another operation providing lessons in both Kihei as well as on the west side is Maui Beach Boys (808/283-7114), a company that offers the same prices of $60/person for a group lesson and $85 for a semiprivate lesson, although private instruction is a few dollars cheaper at only $129 for a two-hour session.
Surf Yoga Maui (808/264-9136) combines surf lessons with a yoga workout. Lessons are offered on an individualized scale ($90/person semiprivate, $140 private instruction). If you’re worried about integrating downward dog while you’re sitting out in the lineup, instructors can also provide surfing lessons separate from yoga classes.
If you’re just looking to rent a surfboard for the day and only need a basic longboard, head to any of the Boss Frog’s locations around town. Not only are they cheaper than renting from the surf schools ($20/day as opposed to $25), but the surf school rentals often cap your time limit at four hours whereas Boss Frog’s is open until 5pm. There are three locations in Kihei, including the stores in Dolphin Plaza (2395 S. Kihei Rd., 808/875-4477), across from Kukui Mall (1770 S. Kihei Rd., 808/874-5225), and in the Long’s Shopping Center (1215 S. Kihei Rd., 808/891-0077). All Boss Frog’s are open 8am-5pm.
On the other hand, while the Boss Frog’s stores and similar rental agencies are great if you only need a beginner board for the day, the best service for intermediate surfers who want to rent a board for the duration of their trip is 808 Boards (808/283-1384, 7am-5:30pm), who will not only match you up with a board that will suit your ability, but will also drop off and pick up the board where you’re staying for no extra charge. You can get a beginner board from $25/day to $100/week, or a premium, fiberglass board from $35/day to $140/week.
Island Surfboard Rentals (808/281-9835) rents for longboards from $56 for two days to $180 for the week. Shortboards will only cost $40 for two days and $130 for the week. The selection of funboards, fishes, and shortboards is superior to that at other rental agencies. They’ll even include a leash, some wax, and some inside knowledge of the current swell conditions at no extra cost.