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The minimum recommended age is 14 years

Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay

Maui - Hawaii, United States

Surf, Bodyboard

Honolua Bay is the most well-known right pointbreak in Hawaii, a true gem which attracts the best surfers from the archipelago. It is considered as one of the five best rights in the world for its punchiness, speed and barrel sections, all accompanied by a beautiful landscape surrounded by cliffs which are like natural spectator stands from where you can watch the wave working. Four-time world champion Mark Richardson simply defines it as the best right in the world and Surfer Magazine put it among the top twenty in their 2011 ranking where the best 100 waves in the world are represented. It’s located a little further north of Kapalua, in northwest Maui, Hawaii. To get there you need to head northwest on the HonoaPiílani Highway towards Kapalua. Ten minutes from there the road gets narrower between curves for a few minutes and then you’ll see the Honolua line-up on your left. Then you’ll see a dirt road that goes off to the left and if the wave is working you’ll see cars parked there. Once you are there, you will be on the Honolua Bay cliffs in a protected place with spectacular beauty which is formed by A bay surrounded by wild vegetation rich cliffs. On the right side of this bay is where the world class right breaks over a live coral bed, a configuration and bottom where the fast cylindrical sections of all sizes originate.

This wave became known in the seventies after images were shown in the film The Performers. An unknown Honolua Bay appeared with six feet and it became the focus of surfing during those years and surfers from the neighbouring islands began going there everytime Honolua received a good swell. Les Potts, Gary Birch and Neil Norris are 8some of the big names from the late sixties, but they were the times when Honolua Bay was bad for the boards because if you fell in the section known as First Point, the probability of losing your destroyed board under the cliffs. In 1967 the Australians Bob McTavish and Nat Young arrived in Hawaii to participate in an event organised in memory of Duke Kahanamoku at Sunset Beach, the famous spot in Oahu’s North Shore. Making the most of the visit, they were attracted to Honolua Bay when the event finished to film some images for the film The Hot Generation, directed by Paul Witzig in 1968. These images had a major effect as Honolua showed its best face with 6 to 8 foot waves and the new innovation, some of the first vee-bottom boards. The final push came in the seventies when the leash appeared, thanks to this invention many more went into the water and Honolua Bay was established as the reference wave in Maui.

It’s difficult for the Honolua Bay pointbreak to work as it is so exquisite, but when it works, the whole surfing world knows and many of the best surfers, from Hawaii and the nearby islands go there. When this happens, the level of surfing in the water is one of the highest in the world, however, by respecting the locals you will be welcome, just be polite and don’t make any mistakes if you want to have the opportunity to catch another wave! In any case, there are many good waves near to Honolua Bay towards the south, for example, Fleming Beach a small beach with a right that breaks over a reef. Further south, in Napili, is the Little Makaha right. By following Highway 30 south towards HonoaPiíliani, you’ll reach a curve where you’ll see the sign for S-turns, a good left which gives some barrels. This zone is quite quiet like the Kaanapali zone where you’ll find Kaanapali Point, Rainbows and Oysterizers. Historically, important events have been held there and for example, the ASP returned to Honolua Bay for the final stop of the women’s WCT. Legendary surfers like Mark Anderson, Les Potts and Neil Norris, the Valley Isle Surfboards shaper, along with local freesurfers like Tai Van Dyke, Kaimana Henry, Kaleo Robertson, Kevin Sullivan, Granger Larsen, Tyler Larronde, Kawehi Cliff and other more famous names like Dusty Payne, Ola Eleogram, Clay Marzo and Ian Walsh all grew up near to Honolua Bay.



Legendary swells that connect all of the Honolua sections from Coconuts on the outside to Subs, passing The Point, Cave and lastly Keiki Bowls, stay in mind. In reality this can occur but rarely in one year, and if it works with a certain size, it’s a huge spectacle to watch the series align as they meet the reef and refract towards the cliffs. The best conditions come with the heavy seas from the low pressures that form in the north of the Pacific Ocean in the winter. This mainly occurs between November and March. It’s not advisable to go during the rest of the year, above all in the main summer months because there won’t be any waves. The swell that comes from the north Pacific has a door to the Kalohi canal, between Molokai Island and Maui, and from there it can enter Honolua Bay. It requires certain swell directions, for example WNW – NW swells don’t enter because of Molokai Island, the best is between NNW – N, as it’s when there is more consistency, energy and length that Honolua breaks. There are also waves with NE –E but they are less consistent.

With regards to its sections, the first, called Coconuts, is the furthest out and holds the biggest size until the following section, Subs. The Point follows it, a section with various take off zones that are a little more forgiving than the rest, until it closes before reaching the Cave, the queen section of Honolua Bay with several bowls and the best barrels which make even the best riders in the line up concentrate. To link up to the next section you need to arrive at Keiki Bowls with some speed, a very fast 100 m wave with a shallow bottom. This part is popular with bodyboarders and youngsters that don’t fear the reef. Honolua is a wave for surfers with experience and it can be surfed with 3 feet to more than 12, 8 feet being the best but the conditions are only suitable for a few. The offshore NE – SE – E winds are more frequent in the winter. It’s better with mid tide, although you can surf with all tides. Take care of the sea urchins, the reef and the strong currents. It will be busy and many wait on the inside. To go in, the safest is to go down the path which takes you to the sand by the final section.
Optimal Conditions
  • Wave
  • Wind
    E - NE
  • Tide
  • Swell
    NNW - N - NNE
  • Bottom
  • Size
    4 to 12 ft
  • Time of year
    November - April
Suggested Spots
  • 165 km from Honolua Bay North Shore - Oahu - Hawaii, United States
  • 166 km from Honolua Bay Oahu - Hawaii, United States
  • 3772 km from Honolua Bay Santa Cruz - California, United States
  • 3919 km from Honolua Bay Santa Barbara - California, United States