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The minimum recommended age is 14 years

Ho'okipa

Ho'okipa

Maui - Hawaii, United States

Windsurf

Ho'okipa Beach Park is on the north coast of Maui, on the island of Hawaii, the world’s main windsurf destination. Kahului Airport is just twenty minutes away from the spot along the Hana Highway, past Paia Bay. It’s very easy to get to and it’s a popular with tourists looking to surf and windsurf. Home to International windsurf competitions such as the Aloha Classic Wave Championships since 1984 and the Red Bull King of the Air Kitesurf competition. The best riders in the world train there thanks to the combination of constant wind and big waves, among the riders stand out Roobie Naish, Pete Cabrina, Bjorn Dunkerbeck, Rush Randle, Jason Polakow, Kelby Anno, Dana Dawes, Jennifer Henderson and Angela Cochran.

There are two spots at Ho’okipa Beach Park. Just by going down the access road you’ll see Pavilions in front of the lookout point that’s on the shore, a right breaks there in the reef zone but it’s exclusively for surfers and bodyboarders so it’s prohibited to windsurf and kitesurf. Even if it’s flat at all of the North Shore spots this wave will always be working with a NW to E swell. With extreme conditions the wave can reach four metres and close the canal so it’s better to change spots. To go in, you go from the white sandy beach through a canal over the reef, but be careful of the rocks as it’s quite shallow. There is another place to go in on the right side of the cliff, where the wave starts to break, it prevents you paddling but be careful as the access is a bit dangerous. When the conditions are very good it’s a popular spot and can be packed with locals. Various surf championships are held there and thanks to the small cliff it is protected from the wind and works very well, even with strong W component winds.

hookipa-maui-hawaii

The Ho’okipa windsurf spot stretches from the centre of the road to the incline towards Hana. The point to go in is in front of the lifeguard hut, between the reef which sticks out on the right and the last rocks on the left. It’s the only place to go in and out at this spot. It’s mainly sand but as soon as you put your foot into the water it’s reef and is very shallow so be careful at low tide as your can damage your equipment.

Once you’re in, you’ll see some diamond shaped rocks, if you stop on the left and sail downwind, you’ll reach a canal which will help you to exit through the waves in the least critical area of the beach, especially when they are bigger than two metres and there is little wind. If there are no waves then you can get in without problems and avoid the canal as there are no waves to push you to the rocks. There are three peaks. H’Poko or Point where the wave breaks into a right reaching End-Bowl and finishing where the canal to go back in is. Upwind from the Point is Middles, a longer left which is usually surfed. The right connects with Point, it’s shorter and there will be less riders there. When you finish surfing this wave you can return to the beach and go back in again without using the canal, that’s if it isn’t too big and the waves aren’t bigger than three metres.

Ho’okipa is the most popular spot in Maui so you should respect the locals’ rules. There are certain priorities for sailing there, these are written on a sign in front of the lifeguard hut. If you can’t see it, it’s a good idea to ask the lifeguards before you go in the water. Surfers have priority, followed by windsurfers and then kitesurfers. If there are ten or more surfers, it’s prohibited to windsurf and kitesurf. If there are nine surfers in the water, you can windsurf. Kitesurfers are allowed as long as there are less than ten windsurfers. To make it a bit easier the lifeguards use a flag system, a red flag means that there are ten or more surfers in the water but if it’s down then you can sail freely. You also need to respect the timetable, which for windsurfing is from eleven in the morning until sunset, but don’t worry because the wind is stronger after eleven and if you don’t want to wait you can go out from the same Ho’okipa beach to the spot at Lanes which is downwind from the canal and has similar conditions as it is the continuation of the same reef.

The beach is closed at night but opens early in the morning. The lifeguards are there from eight in the morning until five in the evening. Be very careful of the many turtles which come out during sunset. Another of the main winter attractions is the monstrous Jaws wave, one of the biggest waves in the world which works between December and March.

Conditions

hookipa-maui

The wind is nearly always gusty and the best direction is E – NE throughout the whole year. It enters side-shore, making it perfect for sailing, and with consistent waves which are perfect for front side. In the winter, the wind could come with N component and rain, making onshore conditions with unorganised waves. Another winter wind is SW, known locally as Kona Wind, it comes from the left, is very offshore and creates waves that can reach up to five metres. The waves break into lefts and you can surf them frontside. 4,5 to 5,3 m sails are usually used in the big wave season and smaller ones in the spring and summer. If you end up on the rocks and are unlucky you can destroy your equipment. The people there will often help you if this happens but take precaution and don’t stay with your equipment on the rocks if you don’t want to hurt yourself.
Optimal Conditions
  • Type
    Wave
  • Wind
    ENE
  • Tide
    All
  • Swell
    NNW
  • Bottom
    Reef
  • Size
    3 to 15 ft
  • Time of year
    From September to May
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