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Kāʻanapali Beach

Learn to Surf at Kaʽanapali Beach
From the moment you first pop up on a surfboard—and realize you're standing on a wave—it's immediately apparent why the sport of surfing is such an addictive and popular pursuit.

In Ancient Hawaii, surfing was reserved exclusively for royalty and chiefs. Using wooden planks more than double their height, the Hawaiians were regarded as some of the best watermen of any culture on the planet.

Given the history and level of fun, surfing lessons are one of the most popular activities for visitors to the island of Maui. As with any new sport, however, the fastest way to ensure success is to first take a lesson.

For those staying in Kaʽanapali, there is a reef near the southern end of the beach that has waves throughout the year. Here, you'll find multiple surf schools to choose from. While there are also surf schools in neighboring Lahaina, the convenience and proximity of Kaʽanapali Point is pretty hard to beat.

On shore, you'll learn the techniques for paddling and standing, and you'll then venture out into the shallow waters and be gently pushed into the surf. Once you feel the wave pushing your board, the only step left is to pop to your feet, practice your balance, and throw a big "shaka" and beaming smile toward the cameraman on shore.

After all, you want to make sure you document the moment you first learned to stand on the ocean, and with a little practice and a couple of lessons, you, too, can ride like the kings of Ancient Hawaii.

The Evening Light Show of Kaʽanapali Beach
In 2003, Kaʽanapali Beach won the title of "Best Beach in America" as compiled by "Dr. Beach." While the rankings for such a title include factors such as sand softness, water temperature, and levels of algae, there's one factor not on the list that alone justifies Kaʽanapali's title:


While everywhere from Lahaina to Kapalua is technically referred to as "West Maui," Kaʽanapali is the only place that actually faces due West.

As a result, Kaʽanapali is treated each night to a fiery sunset on the horizon. Much like snowflakes, every sunset has its own unique traits that make it different from the rest. Consequently, this is a show that reinvents itself each night and never ceases to get old.

What's better is that since Kaʽanapali Beach is more than a mile long, there is room to spread out and find your own corner to watch the flaming sky.

Walk on Water While Stand-Up Paddling
Many of the world's watersports have originated in Maui. Kitesurfing was partially invented on the North Shore, and in the early days of windsurfing, Maui was the proving ground for the world's best windsurfers.

Of all the watersports that have emerged from Maui, however, none have experienced the global explosion of stand- up paddleboarding.

Though the historical origins can be debated for hours, two Maui surfers—Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama—are largely credited with "inventing" the sport here on the waters off Maui. Unlike kitesurfing or windsurfing, stand-up paddling can be accomplished by anyone with the desire to get out on a board. With the recent advances in board technology and the width and thickness of the boards, walking on water is easier now than ever.

On Kaʽanapali Beach, you, too, can walk on water by renting a stand-up paddleboard. Early mornings, before the afternoon tradewinds arrive, are the best times for paddling. It's a relaxing way to begin a day in paradise.

If you're a first-time paddler, remember to keep your feet shoulder-width apart and to constantly keep making strokes. Riding a paddleboard is like riding a bike, where it's easier to fall over if you're just standing still.

A good place to begin is to start on your knees so you can get a feeling for the board. There are a number of schools on the beach where you can book a professional lesson.

Kāʻanapali Beachwalk, Hawaii, USA