Top 10 Beginner Surf Breaks in Maui

Maui boasts more surf breaks for beginners than any other Hawaiian Island. A good beginner surf spot should have easy access for those who have not surfed before. It should also have a friendly and non-competitive vibe in the water, and of course a lack of dangerous obstacles like reefs, rocks and rip tides.

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As you start out, try to stick to surfing waves under three feet tall and avoid surfing during times of high wind or storms. Stay away from large crowds as much as you can and follow basic surfing etiquette for right-of-way in the water.

The following 10 spots won’t always work out for a beginner. The odds are, however, that at any given time at least a few of them will be fun and viable options.

The thing about “beginner” surf breaks is that under the wrong conditions they can turn into not-so-beginner spots. In contrast to many surf spots in California and elsewhere, Hawaii has added dangers like strong rip tides and sharp reefs. It is crucial that you have the right information to have fun while you avoid potentially dangerous situations in the water. With that being said, Maui is home to some of the best surf spots for beginners in all of the Hawaiian Islands. We’re more than happy to share!

  • Maui has the most beginner surf spots of all the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Tips for beginner surfers: try to surf waves under 3 feet, avoid crowded spots, avoid surfing in stormy conditions, and choose spots that lack dangerous obstacles like reef, rocks and rip tides.
  • Familiarize yourself with surfing etiquette and right-of-way in the water.
  • What tide is best for surfing? Typically high tide is best when you surf near a reef break and medium to low tides are better near a beach break.
Top 10 Beginner Surf Breaks in Maui

The Cove

The Cove at Kalama Beach Park in Kihei is a beginner surf spot like no other in Maui. Think of it as Maui’s own little Waikiki and, much like Waikiki, The Cove is often crowded. Throughout most of the year it gets nice, consistent small waves that break both right and left in the shallow water. There are a few days where the waves will be too large for beginners, but a much more common problem is when they are too small to surf.

The Cove is the perfect place for a first-time surfer and is great for so many reasons. It’s just a short paddle out from the beach, which is right across the street from both Maui Wave Riders and the Surf Shack. Both of them offer lessons and rentals for foam-top longboards, reef booties and rash guards.

For more information on surf lessons and rentals please call Maui Wave Riders 808.875.4761 or Surf Shack at 808.875.0006.

Parking is available along the ocean side of the street as well as in a small parking lot on the south end of the break. There are also porta-potties, a shower and a trash can in this area. To the north end is Kalama Park, a grassy park with a volleyball court, some bathrooms, a skate park, and several nearby restaurants and shops. The sandy beach here is close to the surf break, and friends and family can easily take some great photos from the shore. Please note that there is a lifeguard stand just one beach south of The Cove.

There are only three downsides to The Cove, which are the big crowds, sea urchins, and dirty water. We suggest that you wear booties to protect against the urchins. The quality of the water isn’t usually a huge hazard unless it has just rained. As for the crowds, The Cove is filled with lots of novice surfers. Many of them haven’t yet learned how to go right or left on a wave or haven’t quite gotten their balance on their boards. The chances of getting hit by or hitting someone else are a bit high, but the upside is that the crowds are usually pretty friendly. The vibe here is as laid-back as it gets on Maui.

  • The Cove is like Maui’s own little Waikiki, often crowded but gets consistent small waves that break both right and left in shallow water.
  • On days when the waves are big, it is much safer to sit out, but the Cove is known for its often small and weak waves.
  • Upsides: Short paddle out from the beach, right across from surfboard lesson & rental shop Maui Wave Riders and the Surf Shock. Great for families to watch from the small, sandy beach and to take photos of their beginner surfers. Close to shops and restaurants.
  • Downsides: Crowds, sea urchins, and dirty water. We advise you wear booties, available for rent at the surf shops across the street.
  • Facilities: Parking along the ocean side of the street and in a small parking lot on the south end of the break. Porta-potties, a shower, and a trash can are available. Kalama Park offers a grassy park with volleyball and a skate park.
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Launiupoko is a family friendly surf break in West Maui that is great for beginners. It’s easily accessed from Honoapiilani Highway and is hard to miss as it is clearly marked. It’s about 10 minutes south of Lahaina, just past Mile Marker 18. Launiupoko is a popular place for local families, longboarders, stand-up paddle boarders, and new surfers.

The waves here tend to be long, slow and rolling, which is ideal for those who are just learning to surf. They break both to the right and to the left. The biggest problem here is the crowds, especially if you come on the weekends. There is a decent sized parking lot that is almost always packed, and some overflow parking across the street on the mountain side. At low tide, it can get a bit tricky with all of the rocks and reefs so booties are advised. The paddle out to the surf break can be a bit much for a beginner but it is excellent for building up your endurance. Surfboard rentals are available in Lahaina.

Launiupoko is a great place to spend a whole day, or at the very least an afternoon. There’s a grassy park that connects to the sand beach. There you will find some picnic tables, grills, bathrooms, trash cans, and showers. You will also find plenty of big trees that provide lots of shade from the arid West Maui climate. The beach has a natural tide pool that’s protected from the main surf area, which makes it perfect for small children. It’s common to see big picnics, birthday parties, and family gatherings here on the weekend. It’s also a great spot to surf at sunset.

  • One of the most popular family beaches for locals, longboarders, stand-up paddle boarders and beginner surfers in West Maui.
  • Waves are long and slow, break both to the right and left.
  • Upsides: Can easily spend an entire day. Natural small tide pool for small children to play.
  • Downsides: Because of the popularity, big crowds especially on weekends. At low tide, it can get a bit rocky and reefy; booties are advised.
  • Facilities: A grassy park under shade connected to the sand beach with picnic tables, grills, bathrooms, trash cans and showers.
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Kaanapali Beach

Kaanapali Beach is a scenic surf break in Kaanapali just outside the Kaanapali Alii and to the right of the Marriott. The beach is consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful in the world. It’s also a top place to learn to surf on the island.

Kaanapali Beach is known for its fine sandy beach and absolutely perfect sunsets. As a surf spot, it has consistent waves and few rocks. The gentle waves break to the left and usually make for fun, short rides. It’s a good spot to practice standing up.

The surf break is conveniently within walking distance from all of the major resorts in Kaanapali and the popular shopping complex, Whaler’s Village. The most convenient place to park is at Whaler’s Village, but there are only a few spots reserved for beach parking. There are some public showers and plenty of restrooms, and Kaanapali Beach has oceanfront dining and nearby reserved cabanas from which friends and family can watch. There are red lifeguard flags on the beach when hazards like strong currents are present, which helps to remove all the guesswork when it comes to the conditions.

Kaanapali Surf Club has rentals and gives lessons on the path next to the beach between the Westin and Kaanapali Alii. Island Style Adventures by Whaler’s Village also provides both lessons and rentals. The location could not be better for visitors who are staying in Kaanapali and don’t have a vehicle. The view isn’t so bad either. This is one of the best places from which to see the not-so-distant Molokai from Maui.

For more information on surf lessons
and rentals please visit
Visit ISA
or call: (808) 244 6858

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Puamana Beach Park

Sandwiched between Launiupoko and Lahaina, just after Mile Marker 19, Puamana Beach Park stands out as an ideal surf spot, especially for beginners. Celebrated for its picturesque setting and entry-level waves, it’s the go-to destination for those embarking on their surfing journey.

Puamana’s waves, known for their gentle nature, provide a perfect playground for novices. The rides are short and often close out, breaking all at once instead of in any one direction. This is ideal for beginners, offering a great environment to practice standing up on waves without the challenge of larger surf breaks.

One of Puamana’s key advantages is the minimal effort required to paddle out. The short distance from shore means less fatigue and more opportunities for surfers to catch waves, enhancing both skills and confidence.

The beach park itself is part of Puamana’s charm. Equipped with BBQ grills, picnic tables, and ample tree shade for hammock relaxation, it’s perfect for a full day of beach activities. Facilities include porta-potties and a freshwater shower, adding comfort to your beach experience.

In true Maui style, Puamana also features the unique sight of wild chickens wandering through the grass and parking lot, adding to its country charm.

Whether you’re taking your first steps into surfing or seeking a peaceful day by the waves, Puamana Beach Park is a must-visit. Easy breaks, combined with the calm park environment, make Puamana a premier spot on Maui’s surfing map for beginners.

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Grandma’s is the only surf break in all of Maui with a campground right next to it. There are some nice waves to be had just a few feet away from Papalaua Park. Grandma’s is the first turn on the left after the tunnel on Honoapiilani Highway. You will find some prime waves for surfing right between Mile Markers 11 and 11.5. Please note that the GPS will often direct you to Papalaua in Lahaina, so make sure to pay close attention to the mile markers and signs. The amenities here are few, but there are some porta-potties and trash cans. Rentals are available in both Kihei and Lahaina, which are about a 15-20 minute drive each in opposite directions.

Grandma’s is known for the gentle, “mushy” waves that break to the left and right over the reef with just a short paddle out. It’s normally not very crowded, but the weekends can be a bit of a different story. With the right swell, there are waves that can stretch out about half a mile, all the way towards Thousand Peaks. This helps to allow surfers here to spread out some. However, on a small swell, the surfing area can be a bit cramped at times.

  • Grandma’s is the only surf break in Maui with a campground next door.
  • Facilities: Few amenities, but there are porta-potties and trash cans.
  • Rentals available in Kihei or Lahaina, each about a 15-20 minute drive in opposite directions.
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Paia Bay

Paia Bay in Paia can work as a beginner surf break in the winter months, when Ho’okipa is just a bit too big. It is rarely surfable in the summer months. When the waves are small, Paia Bay offers a sandy beach from which to paddle out and there are several great spots to surf. The waves here can be quite deceiving. Sometimes they look big but then they lose all of their power right before they break.

When a bigger swell comes along, however, Paia Bay is a completely different beast. There are some strong currents and powerful sets. By North Shore standards, Paia Bay is considered a rare gentle wave overall. To help find out if it’s a good day for beginners or not, look around for other beginners in the water or just ask a local. Another good indication will be whether or not it’s crowded. On a good beginner day, there will usually be almost no one in the water.

Paia Bay breaks both to the right and left. Generally speaking, the area just slightly to the east side of the beach is a good place to surf. There isn’t too much to worry about in the way of rocks or reefs. There is one spot that has some rocks close to the beach, but it’s highly unlikely that you will end up anywhere near it. Further west down the beach is a popular beach break with boogie boarders and kids. One downside here is the water quality. It can get quite murky from time to time, even when it has not recently rained. The view of Nakalele Point, the northernmost tip of the island, more than makes up for it, though.

Paia Bay is a popular spot to hang out, especially on the weekends. There is a large parking lot but it does fill up. There is also a big, grassy area, a sandy beach, some basketball courts, bathrooms, shower, a skateboard park, and a few picnic tables. The Paia Youth and Cultural Center is also on site here. There are rentals close by in Paia at Hi-Tech Surf Sports. Please note that out of all the spots on the list, Paia Bay ranks the highest for theft so be sure to lock your car and keep all of your valuables out of sight. Also, try to avoid staying too long after the sun sets.

  • Surfable in winter months on small waves. Waves look big, but often lose power before they break
  • Watch out for strong currents and powerful sets. Ask a local about conditions.
  • Paia Bay breaks right and left.
  • Downside: Often water is murky.
  • Facilities: Large parking lot, big, grassy area, sandy beach, basketball courts, bathrooms, shower, skateboard park and picnic tables.

For more information on rentals please visit
Hi-Tech Maui

Visit Hi-Tech Maui
or call: (808) 579 9297

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Thousand Peaks

Thousand Peaks is aptly named due to its seemingly endless peaks. It sits at Mile Marker 12 at Ukumehame Beach Park, off Honoapiilani Highway. “Thousands” refers to a stretch of surf breaks with numerous peaks and waves breaking all over, both to the right and left. The biggest problems here are a long paddle out and getting caught inside. “Getting caught inside” refers to being trapped in the spot where the waves are breaking. It is inevitable for a surfer and can be solved by paddling out in a horseshoe shape, to the right or left and then back around, rather than straight out.

It’s good to paddle out with a more experienced surfer if the waves have any size to them. The best part about this break is that, since there are so many peaks, you can normally find one all to yourself. A “peak” refers to the spot where a wave breaks and it is usually the best place to catch a wave.

The amenities at Thousands are few, but there are some porta-potties, grills, trash cans and a parking lot. There are no showers. Camping is not allowed here but is available just a half mile south at Papalaua Park. Rentals are available in Kihei or Lahaina, each 15-20 minutes out by car. Take in the breathtaking views of the usually foggy West Maui Mountains and the contrast of desert and jungle.

For a more personal experience check out Hawaiian Paddle Sports. Unlike some of the larger surf “schools” at Kaanapali, Breakwall and Cove/Kalama park, they teach private surf lessons away from the crowds at Thousand Peaks.

  • Thousands of surf breaks with numerous peaks and waves breaking all over, both to the right and the left.
  • Upside: With so many surf peaks, it’s usually possible to find one all to yourself.
  • Downsides: Long paddle out and getting caught inside. Better to paddle out with a more experienced surfer if the waves have any size to them
  • Facilities: Porta-potties, grills, trash cans and a parking lot.
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Guardrails is an unmarked stretch of Honoapiilani Highway about 5 minutes south of Lahaina, between Mile Markers 18 and 19. The name refers to the waves that break along the guardrail of the road, just past Launiupoko. It is normally not crowded but it is frequented by longboarders and stand-up paddle boarders. Guardrails is a nice, quiet getaway with friendly surfers.

The most difficult part about surfing Guardrails is getting in and out of the water. During low tide, the sharp coral and rocks are exposed, and during high tide, the timing of getting out can be tricky as the waves slam down on the rocks. It’s not uncommon to lose one’s balance on the rocks, slamming one’s board or body on the ground. It’s best to go out with an experienced surfer the first few times as there are some very specific places that are best to get in and out of the water. Reef booties are helpful. There can also be a strong current, especially during high tide.

Aside from all of that, Guardrails is a fun spot for upper beginner and intermediate surfers who are trying to avoid big crowds. There are often fewer than five people in the water, sometimes none at all. The waves here break both to the right and left, with a fairly long ride in either direction. The closest bathrooms, trash cans and showers are at Launiupoko Beach Park about 1 mile south of here. Parking is limited to pull-offs on the side of Honoapiilani Highway.

Be sure to check out Hawaiian Paddle Sports, they give the best private surf lessons and they teach away from the crowds.

  • Upsides: Not crowded, often fewer than five people in the water. Both rideable rights and lefts.
  • Downsides: Getting in and out of water is difficult. During low tide, sharp coral and rocks are exposed while during high tide, waves slam down on the rocks. Best to go with an experienced surfer.
  • Reef booties recommended.
  • Facilities: None. Closest is at Launiupoko Beach Park about 1 mile south. Parking is limited to pull-offs on the side of Honoapiilani Highway.
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Olowalu is one of the best beginner surf spots on Maui. This West Maui spot is the perfect place to learn how to surf, as the summer waves are on the small side and they stay pretty steady. Olowalu is a bit more of an intermediate surf break on Maui, so you won’t want to paddle out here for your very first time. Make sure you have some surfing experience first or that you at least paddle out with an experienced surfer or a Maui surf instructor.

PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE TURTLES!! They are protected under NOAA’s Endangered Species Act of 1973, and it is considered a crime to touch or harass them in any way.

Olowalu is a great place to learn how to surf during the summer months. The most ideal conditions would be a South or Southeast swell, North and Northeast winds, and during low or mid tide. The prime surfing waves at Olowalu are a good medium length. You’ll find that there are both fun rights and lefts here so, no matter if you’re a regular or goofy foot, you can find some good nuggets here.

The paddle out is pretty easy at Olowalu, and a longboard is always a good choice for surfing West Maui breaks during the Summer season. There is very sharp coral on the ocean floor, so make sure to watch your feet here. One of the best things about surfing in West Maui is that the water is super clean, and there’s really good visibility. Not to mention, from the West Maui Mountains to the outer islands, the 360-degree views are pretty fantastic too.

  • Beginner/intermediate surf break.
  • Best for beginners in summer months when waves are small and on the inside.
  • Nearby campsite.
  • Rights and lefts.

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Hawaii and surfing go hand in hand. Out of all four of the major islands, Maui is arguably the best for a beginner surfer. The waves rarely get too large due to island blocking from Lanai, Molokai and the Big Island. Moreover, localism isn’t nearly as much of a problem here as long as one stays in the beginner areas.

The best part about surfing in Maui is the lack of crowds. Waikiki might have more name recognition in the world of beginner surfing, but Maui has a surprising amount to offer for novice surfers. It isn’t a bad idea to spend a trip to Maui developing a lifelong passion for surfing!

Local Guide

We are local Maui guide experts and Hawaii enthusiasts who love to share the Aloha spirit and our favorite things to do on Maui.