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SUP Paddleboarding originated in Hawaii and has developed into quite a popular sport in the Aloha State. The SUP stands for either stand up paddleboarding or stand up paddlesurfing, whichever you prefer. The sport really began to take off after a YouTube video of the Hawaii surfing legend – Duke Kahanamoku – surfaced in 2005. The video, which was shot in 1939 and later colorized, shows Duke riding a surf ski at Waikiki Beach. Over the decades, a more modern version of the sport of stand up paddleboarding was developed, incorporating the use of changing equipment. If you’re still confused as to what exactly SUP paddleboarding is, it really just involves standing on a board that is similar to a normal surfboard and using a paddle for propulsion. Thanks to the paddle and the ability to push oneself around almost as if they were in a canoe, SUP paddleboarding isn’t a sport that is limited to the ocean. It can also be practiced on rivers, lakes, canals, and practically any other kind of body of water.
SUP paddleboarding, or simply SUP, can involve taking on the big waves in the ocean, but if you’re a beginner, that kind of scenario might not seem too appetizing. In this case, a beach with light waves or no surf at all would be more ideal, or even a lazy pond or river might do. Since the focus of this article is more on SUP paddleboarding in Maui, we’ll stick to covering options around the island. Generally, it’s best to stay on the south and west shores of Maui if you are a beginner, as these coastlines tend to get less waves than in the north. Also worth noting is that lessons are in good supply in the south and west coastal areas, as are equipment rentals. People who are staying in Lahaina, Kaanapali, and Kihei, for example, can find SUP rental equipment and companies that offer lessons near their hotels or even at their hotels.
As is true of the North Shore of Oahu, Maui’s North Shore is where the island’s stronger swells tend to move in, especially in the winter months when big waves are more common. Thus, the North Shore of Maui is the place to go on the island if you want to enjoy some advanced paddle boarding. The town of Paia is where much of the action centers on the North Shore, and among the spots of choice for paddleboarding, windsurfing, and other water sports is Hookipa Beach. Of course, you don’t have to stay exclusively on the North Shore of Maui to enjoy some relatively intense SUP conditions. On the South Shore, you can sometimes find some good surf. Chances are good that the more advanced paddleboarding conditions in the south and the west will be where the surfers are congregating. Just remember to stay out of the way of the local surfers if you enter their waters. It’s a surfing etiquette kind of thing.
Stand up paddleboarding has become a bit of a craze in Maui. Proof is just how many local operations now offer lessons around the island. As we hinted at before, popular tourist areas such as Lahaina, Kaanapali, and Kihei are good places to arrange lessons. Just cruise along South Kihei Road and you’ll find plenty of options. Perhaps more than anything, you’ll want to focus on such things as group size and the level of difficulty when ultimately choosing your tour. Some tours accommodate fairly large groups, and as long as you are in a social kind of mood, they can be a great way to meet fellow travelers. If you prefer smaller groups instead that allow for more one on one interaction with the instructor, then perhaps a private tour will be the best way to go. In relation to difficulty, the Maui SUP paddleboarding tours cater to people of all different levels of fitness, experience, and overall ocean comfort. If you want to watch some Maui SUP lessons before you arrange one for yourself, you can head over to Charlie Young Beach in Kihei. This is one of the most popular places to learn and practice the sport.
More often than not, the same companies that offer SUP Maui lessons also offer equipment rentals. And, to reiterate, the South Shore is where a lot of these companies are based. Within a short distance of your hotel in South Shore places like Lahaina, Kaanapali, and Kihei, you should notice that there are sufficient rental opportunities. You might even be able to rent equipment from an operation that is based at your hotel itself. Either way, Maui paddleboarding rentals should run you about $30 for half a day. This is the most popular option, as a half day out on the water is usually enough to tire you out. Full day rentals tend to be more appropriate when sharing a board with someone else is the aim.
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