*** August 9, 2023 – Wildfires on Maui have devastated the West Maui town of Lahaina and the surrounding area. Our deepest condolences go out to all of the people, families, and businesses affected by this terrible event. Needless to say, most West Maui activity operations are suspended until further notice. For Maui ocean activities, see Maalaea Harbor or Kihei Boat Ramp.
For updates and how to help, please visit Maui Fire Updates.
Top 5 Maui Surf Lessons
Maui’s north and west shores are home to world-class waves, attracting surfers and spectators from all over the world. Peahi (or ‘Jaws’) on Maui’s north shore is known for its wave heights that can reach upwards of 60 feet on select swells. Honolua Bay on the west side is famous for its picture-perfect hollow right-hand point break.
While these waves are better left to the professionals, mellow surf breaks are abundant on Maui’s south and lower west sides. While not quite as famous as Jaws or Honolua Bay, these breaks have seen the likes of thousands of beginner surfers and have started countless people on their surfing journey. Of course, this wouldn’t be the case without the help of some of Maui’s best surf schools.
Hawaii is naturally a mecca for surfing. With over 20 surf schools on Maui alone, it can be tricky to pick the right one. Entering the ocean should always be taken seriously, so we’ve compiled a list of the island’s top 5 best, most trusted surf schools.
Who said girls can’t surf?! Maui Surfer Girls is one of Maui’s finest surf academies, owned and (almost) entirely operated by females. While most Maui Surfer Girl’s staff are women, this quality surf school is co-ed, open to any man, woman, or child. Aside from being Maui’s only female-owned surf school, several other factors set Maui Surfer Girls apart. The instructor-to-student ratio at MSG is the smallest in the industry, with four students to every instructor. The small class sizes and special attention devoted to each student make for a much more fun, fluid, and easy surfing experience. MSG is also one of the few surf schools permitted to teach lessons at Ukumehame Beach Park, one of the most pristine places for surfing on Maui’s west side
Maui Surfer Girls also offers one of the most unique surfing experiences on the island- a couples/honeymoon package. Whether you’re a newlywed couple eager to hit the waves or simply enjoying a kid-free vacation, MSG couples lesson is a great way to celebrate any special occasion. This experience comes complete with a personal photographer, a bottle of champagne or sparkling cider, and transportation to and from your accommodation.
● Surf lessons run for two hours and include surfboard, rash guard, and booties.
● Maui Surfer Girls also offers overnight girls surf camps.
● Instructors have over 40 years of combined surfing experience.
● TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winners seven years running.
Waves Hawaii encompasses all things surf. On Maui’s south side, the bustling South Kihei Strip is where all the action is. Surf schools are no exception- Kalama Park on South Kihei Road is the surf lesson nucleus. Waves Hawaii recognized the ideal conditions for beginning surfers and now calls Kalama Park their home break. Serving as South Maui’s smallest, most private surf school, Waves Hawaii offers various lessons for a range of skill levels. Waves Hawaii provides group lessons, semi-private, and one on one lessons to budding surfers. However, if this isn’t your first rodeo, Waves Hawaii offers a Surf Safari experience so you can test the waters at more advanced breaks.
● No waves? Don’t sweat it. Waves Hawaii also offers stand-up paddle instruction based out of Wailea. This is a great way to see whales in season.
● If you have keiki in tow, Waves Hawaii offers a unique Baby Surf Experience. Accompanied by a CPR-certified instructor, the shallow, mellow breaks of Kalama Park is a great way to introduce your keiki to the surf.
● Waves Hawaii is Maui’s only Billabong Surf School.
Rivers to the Sea surf school was founded by identical twins Tide and Kiva Rivers. Tide and Kiva are both local Maui surfers who have long been household names in surfing on Maui. Throughout their surfing career, both brothers have ranked up high profile sponsorships, contest wins and have turned heads at breaks like Honolua Bay and Peahi. With a deep understanding of ocean conditions and proper surfing technique, lessons at Rivers to Sea focus intently on water safety, surfing style, technique, and etiquette. This helps students shake their bad habits by the end of the first lesson.
With an impressive surfing repertoire themselves, it’s only fair that Tide and Kiva’s fellow instructors are knowledgeable surfers of similar caliber. All of the instructors at Rivers to Sea are lifelong local surfers, many of which have several professional contest wins under their belt. So rest assured, at Rivers to the Sea, the best of the best will be guiding your surfing journey.
● Want to capture your first ever wave? Rivers to the Sea offers a photography package for purchase.
● Surf lessons include a long-sleeved SPF 150 rash guard, surf shoes, and a beginner soft-top board.
● Each lesson typically spends 10-15 minutes on the beach getting a water safety briefing and learning proper paddling techniques.
Maui Wave Riders
Maui Wave Riders is one of the oldest operating surf schools on the island, opened by Tommy Castleton in 1997. Before the inception of Maui Wave Riders, Tommy was a professional surfer and was even featured on the cover of Surfer Magazine.
Maui Wave Riders have two locations on Maui, one in Lahaina and one in Kihei. Both locations have seen the likes of thousands of students and shared the art of surfing with countless beginners. Up and running for almost 25 years, Maui Wave Riders’ teaching ability is so refined that they promise you’ll stand up on a wave or your lesson is free. Recognizing that each student has different learning styles and varied athletic abilities, Maui Wave Riders adapts each class to personally tailor to their students.
● Hooked on surfing after your lesson? Great! Maui Wave Riders offer all-day board use with lessons.
● No swimming, no problem. Maui Wave Riders accept students who don’t know how to swim. The waves in the surf lesson area break in only a few feet of water.
● There’s nothing to lose- if you don’t stand up, your lesson is free.
Goofy Foot Surf School
Open since 1994, Goofy Foot Surf School is one of Maui’s most esteemed surf schools. Founder Tim Sherer has personally taught thousands of students how to surf, including Jimmy Buffet himself! Tim selected Lahaina Breakwall as the home break for Goofy Foot. Known for shallow, clear water, easy beach access, and mellow rolling waves, Lahaina Breakwall is the ideal place for a surf lesson.
Tim Sherer and his body of instructors have cultivated their surf lessons down to a science. Classes begin on the warm sand, where students get to know their instructor, get an in-depth breakdown of ocean safety and proper surfing techniques. From there, it’s a short paddle to the break. Reading the ocean comes with experience, so Goofy Foot sets up a buoy system during their lessons to aid first-timers in navigating the surf break and currents. The buoy is set up to show students where the waves are breaking and where the water is calm. This way, students can easily refer to the buoy when they need a rest and head over to where the water is calm to avoid getting tossed in the waves.
● Interested in learning more about the ocean in Hawaiian culture? Goofy Foot Surf School also offers an outrigger canoe cultural tour with a partnering company.
● Visual learners rejoice! Surf instructors will be riding the waves with you, so you can take notes and follow their lead.
● Group lessons, private lessons, and surf camps are available.
Still can’t decide?
Here is some more information on Maui Surf Lessons.