The island of Maui is dominated by two imposing peaks—Haleakala and Mauna Kahalawai, the now-dormant volcanoes that formed the Valley Isle. In the waters surrounding Maui, you’ll find plenty of peaks of a different kind—gorgeous, surfable waves.
If the latter kind of peak is the kind you’re chasing, welcome to your guide to the best waves on Maui. We’ll show you the island’s most notable surfing spots, with options for surfers of all levels. Like the rest of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui gets waves all year round. We’ll show you where to find them.
But, first, we get a lot of questions about surfing around the Valley Isle, so we’ll start by answering them.
Common Questions We Hear About Surfing on Maui
Are there waves in Maui?
Yes! There are plenty of waves all around the island of Maui. You’ll find breaks on the south coast, in West Maui, on Maui’s North Shore, and even out east in Hana.
Is it safe to surf in Maui?
Like any sport, there’s always some risk involved in surfing. Additionally, the wind, waves, and current in Maui’s waters can be intense, especially when the tradewinds are blowing or the swell is big. However, plenty of beginners catch their first waves in Maui, and a little common sense can go a long way. Know your limits. Always surf with a buddy. And, as the signs on the beaches say, “When in doubt, don’t go out.”
Where is the best surfing on Maui?
Our favorite spots include Launiupoko, Hookipa, Kihei Cove, and Lahaina Harbor—plus the others we’ll mention in this article. (Keep reading for details!)
Can you surf anywhere in Maui?
As long as there are surfable waves coming in, you can surf just about anywhere in Maui. In the summer, the south- and west-facing beaches usually get the best surf. In the winter, look to the North Shore, as well as Honolua Bay.
Is surfing better in Maui or Oahu?
If you’re looking for an epic, big-wave surf trip (and you’ve got the experience to handle it!), Oahu is probably your best bet. However, you’ll find plenty of surf breaks all around Maui to enjoy for all levels of surfers.
What do I need to know about surfing on Maui as a beginner?
If you’ve never surfed before, here’s how to make the most of your time in Maui:
- Start with a lesson: A few hours with an instructor will help you grasp the basics quickly so you can get on your feet fast.
- Learn a little surf etiquette: Surfers have their own way of sharing the ocean. If you take the time to learn a few basic rules, you’ll find the Maui lineups pretty friendly. First and foremost, understand who has the right of way on a wave. (It’s the person closest to the peak!) If someone has already caught a wave, don’t paddle for it. If you want to learn more, this guide from Surfer Today offers a good intro.
- When you fall, make like a starfish: When you lose your balance surfing (and you will!), imitate a starfish and fall flat. This will minimize your chances of hitting any reefs that may lie under the surface.
- Have a blast: As legendary surfer Phil Edwards once said, “The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.” We couldn’t agree more.
Now that you’ve grasped some of the basics, let’s talk about the best surf breaks on Maui!
The Best Surf Spots on Maui
Best Swell Direction: S-SW
If you’ve never surfed before, the Cove in Kihei is a great spot to catch your first wave. Plenty of surf schools use the Cove to teach their students, and beginners can rent a softtop right across the street from the beach. The main downside to this spot can be the crowds. However, newcomers to surfing will enjoy the forgiving atmosphere—and equally forgiving waves.
Launiupoko Beach Park
Best Swell Direction: W-SW
At Launiupoko, you’ll find a family-friendly atmosphere, a huge grassy lawn to set up camp, and a couple of nice peaks to enjoy. On smaller days, the surf is gentle, with rolling waves that are great for beginners. As the surf builds, the waves at Launiupoko only get better, and you’ll see plenty of experienced surfers in the lineup. Launiupoko is a pretty popular spot on the weekends. However, its plentiful amenities make up for the crowds. You’ll find bathrooms, showers, and a fairly large parking lot across the street.
Best Swell Direction: N
Most surfers can only ever dream of catching one of the massive waves at Peahi, on Maui’s North Shore. When it gets big, this surf spot—also known as Jaws—features monster waves that range between 30 and 80 feet. Even though Peahi will be a spectating opportunity for most people, it’s a spectacular one at that. If you want to watch the show on a massive day, get there early to grab a spot; the area becomes something of a circus when a swell is coming in.
Hookipa Beach Park
Best Swell Direction: N-NW
Just down the road from Peahi, you’ll find Hookipa Beach Park. It seems there are almost always waves at Hookipa, but there’s also almost always a good stiff breeze, too. For this reason, you’ll often find windsurfers sharing this bay with surfers. As you might expect from a North Shore break, Hookipa sees some pretty big surf in the winter months. Even on calmer days, there can be a significant current at Hookipa, plus a pretty long paddle out, making this a spot better for intermediate surfers.
If you’re not a surfer, you can still enjoy the picturesque Hookipa Lookout on the cliffs above the beach. Between the surfers, the colorful windsurfing sails, and the coastal views of Maui, it’s a mesmerizing vista.
Best Swell Direction: N-NW
When it breaks, Honolua Bay offers a legendary long, perfect right with plenty of barrel potential. Once a stop along the World Surf League’s Women’s Championship Tour, Honolua is considered one of the best surf breaks in Maui. It’s also a top contender for one of the best surf breaks in Hawaii. As a result, when Honolua is going off, the lineup is packed with Maui’s best, so you’ll want to know what you’re doing if you venture into the lineup.
(Bonus: If you get to Honolua and it’s flat, break out the snorkel gear to enjoy one of the best spots to snorkel on Maui!)
Level: Beginner and up
Best Swell Direction: SW
When you drive from Kahului to Lahaina along Honoapiilani Highway, you’ll see surf breaks all up and down the coast. Just past the turn-off for the Ukumehame Firing Range, you’ll see a parking lot on the left. It’s the perfect place to stop and take advantage of this stretch of coastline, called “Thousand Peaks” for its abundant waves. As you might guess, there’s plenty of room to spread out and find your own wave. However, the reef can be shallow in places, so be aware of the tide and your positioning before you take off.
Best Swell Direction: NW
Just near the Marriott Maui Ocean Club, you’ll find some great, gentle waves during the summer—and some bigger ones during the winter. Surf schools often head to this area of Kaanapali Beach, so it can sometimes get a little crowded. However, if you’re staying at one of the many resorts in the area, it’s one of the most convenient spots to catch a wave or two.
If you’re not a resort guest, parking can be a little challenging—or expensive. You will find a few spots set aside for public beach access, they tend to fill up fast. Additionally, public bathrooms can be hard to come by. However, you’ll find showers available along the Kaanapali Beachwalk for a quick rinse-off.
Best Swell Direction: SW
There are two distinct surf breaks surrounding Lahaina Harbor. The first is right on the edge of the boat channel in and out of Lahaina Harbor. The other is just south of the harbor wall. Both offer some pretty good waves when the swell direction is right, and you’ll almost always see someone sitting just outside the boat channel, hoping to catch a few.
Plus, if you’re looking for a post-session beer or a meal, Lahaina’s lively bar and restaurant scene offers plenty of options. You will find clean public bathrooms in the harbor area but no showers, so bring your own rinse water.
From Reef to Peak and Back Again
Whether you’re a land-based adventurer or an ardent fan of the salt life, Maui can easily keep you busy. Catch some waves at one of these spots or, if you need a day to dry out, check out Maui’s biggest peak—Haleakala. You’ll get a whole different perspective on the island from 10,000 feet. But no matter how you end up spending your day on Maui, you’re sure to soak up some stunning natural beauty.
Considering a permanent move to Maui? We’d love to help you get your belongings to the Valley Isle! Just reach out to one of our experts for a complimentary quote.
Tell us about your move!