Thanks to South Maui’s great beaches, there are plenty of stand-up paddling instructors ready to show you the ropes and outfitters with gear for rent if you don’t have your own. You’ll also find several group tour options, sometimes bundled with lessons.

If you’re staying in Wailea, there are stand-up operators along Wailea Beach.

If you’re staying in Wailea, there are stand-up operators along Wailea Beach. Photo courtesy of Grand Wailea Resort.

Kihei

Kihei is one of the best spots on the island for stand-up paddling, and all of the major surf schools will also offer paddleboard services. Getting out on the water in the morning is imperative with stand-up paddling because once the trade winds pick up it can become impossible to paddle upwind. For a truly meditative experience, rent a board the evening before and get up early the next morning for a sunrise paddle. One of the best runs in Kihei is to go from Sugar Beach to the Menehune Shores condominium and back, or you can always just putt around the coastline by Kamaole and stop at whichever beach is calling your name.

For a truly meditative experience, rent a board the evening before and get up early the next morning for a sunrise paddle.Learning to stand-up paddle can often consist of a single lesson. Professional instructors can give you all the pointers you need—such as where to stand on the board, how far apart to keep your feet, and the correct side of the paddle to use—and after the one lesson you should be solid enough to rent a board on your own.

Of all the schools in Kihei, Maui Wave Riders (1975 S. Kihei Rd., 808/875-4761) offers 90-minute lessons which run $60 if you’re part of a group, and $85 if it’s a semiprivate lesson. For $140, you can get a one-on-one session with an instructor guaranteed to get you up and paddling.

Maui Beach Boys (808/283-7114) offers slightly longer classes (two hours) at a slightly higher price ($79).

You can also try out a multisport operator such as South Pacific Kayaks and Outfitters (808/875-4848), which offers two-hour lessons for $75 as part of a group, $99 semiprivate, or $139 for the private experience.

If you don’t feel like being packed in with the rest of the students around The Cove, you can opt for a multisport operator such as Blue Soul (3550 Wailea Alanui Dr., 808/757-8888) that will arrange for a custom experience suited to your location and ability level. Rates with Blue Soul are $80 for a semiprivate lesson, $120 for private lessons.

If you want to rent a board and paddle on your own, one of the cheapest options is Auntie Snorkel (2439 S. Kihei Rd., 808/879-6263, 8:30am-8pm daily) in the Rainbow Mall in South Kihei. Boards will only cost you $35 (versus $40/hr at some high-end resort stands), and since stand-up boards can be a pain to strap to your car, this location is best if you are staying by Kamaole Beach I or II so that your condo, the store, and the beach are all within walking distance of each other.

Wailea

If you’re staying in Wailea, there are stand-up operators along Wailea Beach. Situated in the thick of the action is the Maui Beach Club in front of the Grand Wailea, which is an activities company that provides stand-up paddleboard rentals and guided tours. The rates for a single hour can be steep, so the best deal if you plan on putting in a lot of beach time is to buy a four-day membership to the beach club, which gets you unlimited paddleboard, kayak, and boogie board rental for $103/person.

If you would prefer to take part in a guided tour, Paddle On (888/663-0808) offers early morning tours from Polo Beach in front of the Fairmont Kea Lani. These tours have a flexible itinerary. The main focus is simply on being out on the water and communing with the tranquil calm of morning. Inquire about meditative sunrise tours.

Makena and Beyond

The only place in Makena for stand-up paddleboard rentals and lessons is at the stand in front of the Makena Beach and Golf Resort (5400 Makena Alanui, 808/874-1111), steps from the sand. Lessons are available from $60/hr, or you can rent a board and go on your own for $40/hr. Advance reservations are required for a lesson. During summer it takes the wind longer to reach here than at areas such as Kihei, which means that your window for paddling lasts an hour or two longer.

For a lengthier, guided stand-up paddling tour, the crew at Hawaiian Paddle Sports (808/660-4228) can meet you at Makena Landing where you can take part in a two-hour lesson and tour of the historic Makena coastline. These are private tours. Rates vary between $159 for a solo person to $109/person for private groups over five.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.