Maui is one of the best kiteboarding destinations in the world for two reasons: you’ll always be guaranteed wind, waves and warm water. What else is there??? The following beaches are popular kiteboarding beaches and more importantly, legally zoned for kiteboarding (click on the beaches to see a photo):
Kiteboarding Locations on Maui
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Ka’a Point (Pro Beach) – This beach is perhaps the best known kiteboarding beach in the world. Featured in many kiteboarding magazines and videos. the protected cove allows the riders to come close to the beach, to give photographers a close view of the action. Ka’a point has flat water close to shore, choppy water in the middle area, and some nice kickers and jumping waves just off the point. Just upwind is “Boneyards” with a shallow coral reef that creates a great waveriding area when the swell comes up. In winter the waves here can be massive and the outer reef will be virtually impassable, with 20 foot plus walls of whitewater. There are some submerged rocks and hazards that riders should be aware of. Especially at low tide. (Jumping the rocks here is strictly forbidden). Because of the limited parking, kiters are asked to park with consideration of others. Also when setting up, keep your kites close to the tree line, in the wind shadow of the trees. then set up your lines to the downwind side of the kite, so that they are out of the way until you are ready to launch. The shape of the beach allows only one kite to launch safely at a time. So wait for your turn. Get someone to assist you with the launch. You should walk out as far as you can to the right, to get your kite into the wind-line. When riding, the incoming rider setting up for a trick, has the right of way, so outgoing riders should steer downwind of incoming riders. This is not the place to mess up and drop your kite in the path of all the pros. Photo shoots often staged here, so please give the riders and photographers some room to work! (That is how they earn their living). Also watch out for the rocks at Ka’a Point they seem to have a kite magnet. There have been many good sessions gone bad, when kiters got too close to these rocks. If you get hooked up on the rocks, you had better hope that you have some good friends to scramble out there and help you get unstuck. Here is a picture of an instructor getting his student off the rocks, this guy usually just drops off his students and drives downwind to pick them up. (Good luck with that one). I guess he forgot to tell his student not to crash into the big rocky headland he was attempting to navigate around.
NASKA (Action Beach) – Just downwind from Ka’a Point is “Action Beach”, This launch is home to kite schools and beginner and intermediate kiters. The wide sandy area is the launch area, and not a good place to set up your picnic blanket and umbrella. If you want to put your family in the shade under the trees that is best. Trees act like an umbrella of safety from falling kites. The launch gets quite busy around noon, than start s to thin out in the afternoons. The launch here looks easier than it really is. Check out how the locals launch. Do not bring your kite directly overhead, because you will stall it out. The upwind part of the beach is in the shadow of Ka’a point, so the wind can be very turbulent. To launch here, keep the kite low on the water side (right) and start moving immediately towards the water. You will see the locals running sideways to the water. Do not stand there wondering which way your kite is going to fall. If you start running sideways you will create some apparent wind and keeps the kite in the air long enough to get safely into the water. once in the water, drag away from shore before getting on your board. The launch is not too difficult when the wind is side-on like in a true north-easter, but if the wind turns more east, the wind gets gusty and holey, and makes launching very challenging.
Naish Beach – Aka flash beach, between the keyhole and the old hale which was reputedly (a former girl-scout pavilion) is quickly becoming the most popular kiteboarding beach on Maui. It is wider and sandier than kitebeach. Just the next beach east of kitebeach/ka’a point, it has two main entry points. The keyhole is a dirt road the leads to the western (downwind) end of the beach, and the campground Gravel parking lot, at the eastern (upwind) end on the beach, Sometimes called “lower-lowers” or lower canoe beach. It is shared by non-kiters too. This small cove is where outrigger canoes sometimes paddle, so they have the right of way. Especially when the keiki (kids) groups are practicing. Kites should not launch when an outrigger canoe is practicing in the bay. Kites should also try to stay at least 200 feet away from canoes at other times. There is also a camping ground at the eastern end. Kiteboarders need to be mindful of the other beach users that come here to enjoy this area.
The Old Hale – The Old Hale, is the old girl scout pavilion. This access has its entrance opposite the Ka’a Street/ Alaho Street intersection. Kiters park here and do a short walk through the trees, to access this launch site. The Old Hale has been renovated and restored with a new roof. Kiters park at the roadside and walk along a short path about 50yards through the trees, and set up in front of the Old Hale. Take care when sailing directly out from this beach. The Bone Yard reef is directly in front and gets dangerously shallow, especially at low tide. Sail around the shallow reef not through it. There is also a submerged concrete slab in front, look out for it too. The Old Hale is also used by picnickers, and other beach users ands is used for special events. So please show courtesy and respect and stay clear when others are using this area. Always take your trash with you, and pack out a little extra trash and keep the area clean. Do not abuse the vegetation here even the dune grass is a native plant that holds the dunes together. Do not damage the vegetation or drag gear across the grass here.
Kahului Beach – Is the last sandy beach before the rock wall at Kahului Harbor. Downwind from the water plant, it is where many boards and kites end up after being blown away. The wind down here is slightly more onshore and is steady to ride. Access is difficult so it is virtually uninhabited except for a few bush people, and some of the curious cruise ship passengers. There is a whole world of riding possibilities in this area, almost any day. This most likely where the future expansion of kiteboarding areas is likely to occur. Take care at the downwind end of the beach where some hazardous portions of eroded concrete pilings from a former pier and sometimes exposed. The trailhead is in the Kahului harbor Industrial zone. Downwind of Kahului Beach is the harbor’s break wall. Beware of the Kahului harbor break wall, it consists of huge concrete blocks called “jacks’. These jacks get slimy and treacherous. Even if your board gets stuck here you may not want to retrieve it. There is no easy exits here at all, so take care not to get too far downwind.
Waiehu Beach – Is a sandy stretch of beach popular with fishermen and local surfers. Via Lower Waiehu Beach Road. Drive towards the Waiehu golf course. The beach is located in a residential community, so drive slow!! The parking area is along the shoreline on the right. There are a few porta-poties and not much else. The locals don’t really like kiteboarders, and kiting is not very common here yet, but it is getting more popular. This spot is best when the wind at Kanaha is too strong and too easterly. Then Waiehu has lighter steadier wind. Kiters at Waiehu will be riding a kite size or two larger than they would at Kanaha on a given day. The wind blows side-on from the left (port tack), because of the valley’s Venturi. The beach is very narrow so don’t crash into a trees or houses. Stay away from fishing lines, and stay away from prison inmates on day leave, hitting golf balls at you (they are the one wearing orange jumpsuits). Waiehu has good backside waveriding conditions, and is not suited for beginners. Often kiters will cross over to Waiehu from Kitebeach, ride at Waiehu for a few hours, then ride back to kite beach. Others will do a one-way crossing and have their buddy drive over to Waiehu to pick them up. PS Always lock your car and take your key with you! (don’t hide it in the gas cap).
Kuau – Kuau is a residential area close to Hookipa, and it is popular with windsurfers. It is a rocky headland packed with houses that line the waterfront. Kuau’s shoreline has a rocky launch that is well known among windsurfers, it is a horrible (almost impossible) place to launch a kite, even if you are very skilled, have a reliable kite launching buddy, you are desperate, it is virtually impossible to ride here, but don’t come crying to anyone if you drop your kite and get munched into the rocks, and trash your gear etc. This is definitely an un-patrolled zone. There is virtually no parking here so you may need to get dropped off. There is a shoreline access sign, and a narrow path that leads to the ocean, and a very rocky shoreline. There is a keyhole through the reef that may make a slightly easier place to launch (for windsurfers). once you get out there could be some serious wave conditions just offshore. When there is a decent swell running, this wave is not to be trifled with, and is for advanced wave riders only. See the picture on the right for an idea of the wave action you might find there.
Lanes (Wana Beach) (this is an advanced kiteboarding beach due to the size of the waves and strength of the winds) – Lanes is for experts only. Lanes consists of a rock shelf and a keyhole for launching. It takes skills to launch here without getting dragged across the rocks. A good idea to wear booties. Have a reliable person launch your kite for you. You will have to wait for a good gust before you launch, because there is a bit of a wind shadow here. Just a few hundred yards offshore is a reef-line that creates the well formed waves. Some of the largest kite-able waves on Maui are found here. There are several deep channels that allow the rider to get out the back when the waves are big. This is an experts only area. With serious consequences if you bail in big waves. If you stall out your kite on a big wave and get slack lines, get out of there, go sideways if you can, but you do not want to get wrapped in your lines. On smaller days this spot is relatively easy to ride. It is the launching and landing that presents the biggest challenge. Also it could be “possible” to ride lanes in a Kona wind (side offshore), but it is extremely dangerous if you get blown out to sea. Which is a definite possibility. So it is generally not worth the risk.
Hookipa (kiteboarding is only permitted during contests here) – Characterized by a rocky shoreline and strong currents. This beach is popular for surfing and windsurfing. The sandy part of the beach is actually not that big so it gets crowded very easily. A Ho’okipa there is a “ten man rule”, which means that if there is more than ten surfers in the water, you can not go out on your windsurfer. In the morning the beach is the domain of divers and surfers. There is no windsurfing before 11am (11 o’clock rule), No windsurfing if there is more than 5 surfers at the “H’poko” break. This means that there is no room left for kiteboarders. That is why we do not kite there except for during kiteboarding contests. Ho’okipa is an important beach for watersports, the crown jewel of the North Shore, and it should not be overused or abused. For Surfers, there are three main breaks at Ho’okipa, From west to east they are, H’poko, Middles, and Pavilions. Pavilions is a surfing only break, and is usually in a wind shadow anyway (that’s why it is a good surfing break), Windsurfers will find the waveriding is at H’poko with some cross-over to middles. the waves can be ridden upwind, then a downwind bear-away wave-ride towards the rocky point and a last minute exit out the channel.
Memorial Park (Ohukai Beach) – This south shore beach has excellent fishing, swimming, windsurfing and occasionally kite-surfing. Facilities include picnic tables, showers and restrooms. Wintertime whale sightings are almost guaranteed, kiteboarders and windsurfers must keep clear of whales by at least 200ft. This small beach park has been a favorite venue for windsurfers for years. When the wind is northerly it can blow strong side-shore from the right. There is a shallow reef (3-5 feet) just offshore that throws off some nice small waves too, especially during a nice summer southerly swell. The beach and launch area is narrow and limited, and the park is tree lined, which helps to keep errant kites from getting too close to the road. The tree barrier is located along the widest section of beach. The best place to launch is near the blue pavilion, or at the sandy point just north of the pavilion. Do not launch too close to the road, or close to other beach users. When exiting, bring your kite down early and self-exit if necessary. In the early days, a few kites went over the road here, so be super careful. There can be a deceptively strong shore break here, even when the waves are small. this beach is good when the winds blow “Kona” too. Kona winds blow from the south west, and create side-onshore winds.
Waipuilani (Maui Sunset) – Maui Sunset is a popular windsurfing spot. and has been a local kiteboarding launch for several years. It has a lot of shallow reef and numerous palm trees along the shoreline which can make launching and landing kites difficult. The park is very nice with 20acres of grassy lawn. Not a good place for beginner kiters at low tide because of scrapes to feet and other extremities. The locals make riding here look easy, but they have figured out where all the rocks are, and stay away from shallow areas. If you do crash here, stay shallow. Do not dive into the water head first, or perpendicular to the water. Try to splat and stay at the surface. there is limited parking for about 20 cars, so it fills up quickly. Lock up your valuables, because the incidence of theft in these parking areas is very high. Just call the cops if you have any problems. This place is best in a northerly of southwest Kona wind. This spot is suitable for Intermediate to advanced riders. There will be a fun wave during a southerly swell. Beware at low tide. Sometimes the side-shore wind will suddenly turn side-off around sunset so don’t stray too far from shore or you might be in for a long swim.
Pokahu Park (S-Turns) & Embassy Suites (these beaches are currently closed to kiteboarding) – Due to too many incidences this “Embassy” beach is currently closed to kiteboarders. This West side beach features the Embassy hotel, this is a large beach full of tourist and has multiple uses. This beach has public restrooms and showers. Popular for beginner surfing, diving, swimmers and snorkelers, and usually more than its fare share of sun bathers. This place only works in kona’s and northerly winds. There is a wind shadow in easterly winds. Always take extreme care when kiting close to non-kiters. Remember that swimmers have right of way, and that you should stay 200 feet away from divers. There will often be a marked swim zone, delimited by the yellow/red flags. And of course there is absolutely no kiting ever allowed close to these marked swim zones. The photo was taken during the annual Molokai Crossing, where windsurfers and kiteboarders depart from Embassy Suites and ride across to the neighboring island of Molokai. (here is a picture of us waiting for the wind).
Ironwood Beach & D.T. Fleming Beach – These beaches on the “upper Westside” of Maui are best in northerly trades. When the wind comes more onshore. If the trades are even the slightest bit easterly there the wind will be side-off and will create gusty conditions close to shore. Once out in the Pailolo Channel the conditions can get quite rough. Be prepared for rolling swell and strong winds. Do not ride too far from shore, because if your kite goes down, it is likely that you will get blown farther away from shore. It is always best to ride with a buddy. We use the westside launch sites when the wind is side-onshore (northerly). You don’t want to get stranded swimming out in the channel after dark. If you get in trouble here you could get blown to shipwreck beach on the island of Lanai.
Why do we have Zones and Rules?
Maui has a wonderful resource of coastal areas and beaches that are the gateway to the ocean, The Hawaiian culture respected the Aina (land) and the Kai (ocean). they knew that the two were linked and needed the stewardship of the people. There has been a system of rules (Kapu) that have governed the use of these resources, and to protect the resources from overuse. For kiteboarders, access to beaches and waters is a privilege, and we must be aware that we share the resource with many other beach users and water users. There are many rules that govern our use of these areas. Some are federal laws, state statutes, county ordinances, and environmental restrictions, and agreements with other user groups. These rules ensure that the rights of others are protected, and that the resources themselves are well managed and protected too. Please do your part to be informed of the regulations, laws, and agreements that exist on our island, and then you will be able to participate in the sport of kiteboarding in a responsible and respectful manner.
Here’s an aerial photo of Kite Beach on the North Shore of Maui.
Click here to view MAUI’S SAFE KITEBOARDING GUIDLINES.
Click here to view MAUI’S KITEBOARDING RIGHT-OF-WAY (ROW) RULES.
Click here for current weather conditions on Maui.
For more information, please visit the Maui Kiteboarding Association.