Maui is the most synonymous location with windsurfing. Home to Hookipa, the most photographed windsurfing beach in the world. Home to many of the world’s top professional sailors, at least for some of the year, and the birthplace of many of the windsurfing industry’s manufacturers. Maui is windsurfing’s Mecca and it is a long way from the shores of the UK. It is perhaps the distance and the mystique that can put some people off.
Jan Sleigh took his first ever trip to Maui this summer, and with the help of Maui regulars, Clyde Waite and James Cox, they present the most comprehensive guide to Maui since windsurfing began!
Maui is NOT just a hard core location. There are so many beaches that offer anything from flat water to mast high waves all in one day.
One other thing about Maui not normally considered is that there is more than one town. But if you are visiting for windsurfing then the two places that you will spend most of your time around will be Paia and Haiku. For your time in Maui the area around these two towns is likely to become your known universe.
How to get there
If you would rather book a complete Maui package, get in touch with Sportif.
The only way to get to Maui is to fly. Several airlines operate flights to Maui but we asked the Maui seasoned UK professional windsurfers who they recommended and we were told United Airlines or American Airlines.
You will fly from Heathrow or Gatwick to the west coast of the USA (either San Francisco or Los Angeles) and then join a connecting flight to the island. The first flight takes 10 hours, the second takes 7 hours. The journey back home is a killer with two overnight flights. Jet lag will take several days to recover from. Be warned, this can wipe out most of the first week of a two week break.
United Airlines economy, no deal, flight price: Summer £600 - £800, Winter £500 to £700. Weekend flights are more expensive as are flights close to the 4th July and over the Christmas period.
Note: Get ready for the Halfway to Hawaii game on all United flights. At this stage you will be exhausted and probably the only person on the plane not joining in.
(Maui airport code: OGG)
Taking your own kit
If you plan to take your windsurfing gear with you then excess baggage will be at the forefront of your mind. Excess baggage fees still remain a lottery depending on who you go with, how busy your flight is, whether you are taking up precious cargo space down below or whether the check-in girl has had an argument with her boyfriend and is in a particularly bad mood. But Jan Sleigh’s excess baggage experience was relatively straightforward with American Airlines.
However on your return, the airport staff at Kahului are very used to excessive amounts of windsurf kit and you will be charged a minimum of $180. If you’re unlucky, it could cost up to $350 to get your kit home. Top tip: get there early. You can check your entire luggage in and then go back to Paia (15mins down the road) for your last fish burger before boarding the flight.
How the wind works
Maui is blessed with the Trade Winds which are accelerated on the north shore by the geography of the Island. Mount Haleakala rises to over 10,000 feet and is the perfect shape for the wind to funnel around. The wind generally blows from the NE which gives starboard tack wave riding. The trades are less consistent in the winter time, but the swell is larger which is why you should head to Maui over the winter months if you want the waves. Occasionally, Maui experiences Kona winds. These winds are the result of a pressure system and blow from left to right. In Kona winds there are still places to windsurf but usually on the other tack (port).
In the autumn, winter and spring Maui is definitely a wave location with regular ocean swells breaking on the many reef breaks and shores of the island. In general (with the exception of the outer reefs) Hookipa will witness the bigger waves decreasing towards Kanaha. Kanaha still has some very nice waves for getting into though.
Summer time occasionally will have a small swell bringing the reefs to life, but in reality the water state is “flat”. Different beaches will have slightly different water states, for example Kanaha is “flatter” than Spreckesville (Sprecks). The reality is that the wind is strong in the summer and therefore flat means a variety of states of chop. Windblown swell forms small waves that may get to be a meter high at Sprecks and maybe over head at Hookipa.