Surf lessons in Maui

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My good friends Tom and Jessica have been visiting me from the mainland over the last week. One of the first things they wanted to do when when they got to Maui was to try surfing. Stories about my own adventures learning to surf more than piqued their interest. Having only started to surf a year and a half ago, this was my first chance to give surf lessons.

Winter waves on the north shore of Maui are large and the skill level of the area’s surfers is high. This makes for a less than ideal environment for surf lessons. The area near Lahaina on the other hand offers small waves that are perfect for first time surfers. We stacked three boards on the car and headed out from Haiku to the west side of Maui. Before getting in the water, we talked about the basic techniques for catching waves, ocean hazards and surf ettiquette. We grabbed our boards and headed for the water. An uncrowded line up and peeling one to two foot waves made for a perfect environment for Tom and Jessica’s first surf lesson. A gentle wave rolled towards Tom and I told him to start paddling. He took a few awkward strokes as the wave began to lift up the tail of his board. The nose of his board “pearled” into the trough of the wave sending him flying off the board. A wave came to Jessica and I urged her to start paddling. The wave began to pick up her board and she was gliding along on her belly. She awkwardly tried to get to her feet before falling off the side of her board. Tom and Jessica paddled back to the lineup with smiles on their faces. I gave them a few more pointers and a little bit more encouragement. They were more than up for the challenge. On his very next wave, Tom was up and riding his first wave. I hooted for him as he rode the gentle white water. Jessica was learning on a slightly smaller and trickier board. It took her a few more tries before she caught her first wave, but it made the thrill of the first ride that much greater. After a few hours of playing in the surf, we headed towards the beach with ear to ear grins. It didn’t take long for Tom and Jessica to catch the surf stoke.

After a rest day, Tom and Jessica were excited for another surf lesson. This time, we also brough my sister’s good friend Pam. Pam had recently arrived on Maui for a two month stay. Her main goal was to try surfing. We probably looked a bit like the Keystone cops with 4 surfboards stacked on the roof of my small Subaru. With a day of surfing under their belts, Tom and Jessica’s confidence and performance soared. This was Pam’s second day as well and you could see a clear improvement in her skill with every ride. All three had that huge permagrin on your face that you get when you are catching your first waves. Their spirits were buoyed further by the scenery. Rainbows were forming over the West Maui mountains and we saw numerous humpback whales breaching and frollicking. It was truly a magical day. We finally stumbled out of the ocean three hours later as the setting sun was turning the clouds over Lanai beautiful shades of pink and orange.

Surfing is challenging and amazing sport that can be learned by men and women of all ages. There are a number of different companies that offer surf lessons in Maui. Here is a list of some of the companies that provide surf lessons in Maui:

The Buzzy Kerbox Surf School -I took my first surf lessons in Maui with Buzzy. He is a great guy, a good teacher and a phenomenal surfer.

Nancy Emerson-Nancy is a former world champ and has had one of the longest running surf schools on Maui.

Surf Dog Maui-Surf lessons from Maui locals with a strong respect for the ocean.

The Maui Surf website has some additional links to other surf instructors on island as well as a FAQ for first time surfers.

Some people come to Maui just to learn to surf. When I was out giving my friends their lesson, I ran into Me-Shell Barnas of Swell Women. She was out surfing with a group that was on island for a yoga and surf retreat. Swell Women offers yoga and surf retreats for women and couples. She also helps to run Maui Surfer Girls, a surf camp for girls held on island.

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