Paia-One of the Top Ten Surf Towns in the U.S.

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The North Shore of Maui has been recognized as one of the world’s premier destinations for wind sports since the early 1980s. It gained notoriety when windsurfers discovered the perfect combination of wind and waves at breaks like Ho’okipa. Its status in the world of wind sports was further cemented as it played a prominent role in the growth and devlopment of kite boarding in the mid 1990s. The 1990s also elevated Maui’s North Shore to prominence in the sport of tow surfing. The best tow surfers in the world were drawn to the massive waves of Jaws off the coast of Haiku. In the last few years, the sport of stand up paddle boarding has exploded and this stretch of coast was once again a focal point for the growth of a water sport. It is safe to say that the waters up and down the coast from Paia have been a center of board sport innovation. Up until now, the one area where North Shore of Maui has lagged in international prominence has been in the art/sport of conventional surfing.

This may be changing as the spotlight of surfing’s media is starting to shine on the North Shore of Maui. Surfer magazine recently named Paia one of the ten best surf towns in America. The towns were selected to the top ten due primarily to quality of life and quality of surf. The truth of the matter is that the area has always had a devoted crew of surfers. Some were born and raised locally while others migrated here for the surf. The surf population was over shadowed by the international prominence of Maui’s alternative water sports. The recent success of Maui North Shore surfers have made the local surf scene hard to ignore. Rippers like Ian Walsh have been recognized on the global stage for their skill in all conditions of surf. The younger generation is making their presence known as well. There is no better example than Haiku’s Kai Barger winning a world junior championship earlier this year in Australia.

I am sure that there are some mixed emotions among the local surf community regarding Paia’s new found publicity. While the attention is welcomed for the area’s up and coming pro surfer’s, I imagine some are wary that the publicity may add to the crowds at local surf breaks. Regardless of the media spotlight, the world class combination of wind and waves along our stretch of coast will draw those that appreciate an ocean sports lifestyle. Combined with the unique culture and lifestyle, it isn’t much of a surprise that Paia’s notoriety has expanded to the world of surf.

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