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Beginner’s Guide to Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Maui

By November 18, 2023 No Comments
Family paddle boarding

Paddle boarding in Maui is fun for the whole family!

A stand up paddle board is an awesome way to experience the Pacific Ocean. It’s one of my family’s favorite ways to get out on the water. Unlike surfing, SUP boarding isn’t too hard or too dangerous for most people. With a SUP rental from Auntie Snorkel and some simple instructions, visitors can make paddle boarding in Maui a memorable part of their visit. Here’s what beginners need to know before they go stand up paddle boarding in Maui.

Where is the best place to paddle board on Maui?

Auntie Snorkel is across the street from snorkeling and paddle boarding at Kamaole beaches.

Auntie Snorkel is across the street from snorkeling and paddle boarding at Kamaole beaches.

There are 20 beaches in Kihei, Wailea and the area surrounding them. We recommend starting with Kama’ole Beach Park, which is across from our store in Kihei. From there, you can try a different beach every day if you want to! Our West Maui visitors have beautiful options like Napili Bay, Kahekili Beach Park (a.k.a. Airport Beach), Launiupoko Beach Park. Our Kihei/Wailea and West Maui board delivery services can bring the equipment to you for weekly or longer rentals if you can’t come to us. Whether it’s your first time or you are a seasoned SUP boarder, you can come to us for Maui paddle board rentals.

If this is your first time, we recommend finding a beach where the waves are calm. It so happens that Kama’ole Beach Park I, which is across the street from our Kihei shop, is especially good for first-timers. In West Maui, Airport Beach on one of its many calm mornings offers easy access and a beautiful paddle for any skill level.

What equipment do you need for fun?

The SUP board is specially designed for floating while you are standing. It is different from a boogie board or a surfboard. The paddle is long enough for you to stroke the water without bending over. At Auntie Snorkel, we work with visitors every day, helping them match the right board for their skill level, height and weight.

What equipment do you need for safety?

Life jackets provide added safety on the water.

To stay safe, you’ll want a board leash and perhaps a personal flotation device. The leash ensures that your stand up paddle board board won’t drift away from you. A life jacket ensures that a weaker swimmer or any keiki you bring on board won’t have trouble if they fall in the water.

How do I get to out through the shore break?

You will put your leash on while on the beach. Then, watch the shore break until you see a pause between sets of waves – or a lull. That’s your time to put your board in the water (nose pointing out where you want to go), hop on to your knees, and paddle past the shore break as quickly as possible. Only when you are in deeper water (5 feet or more) should you try to stand on your board.

Is there a front and back to the paddle?

Maui paddleboard rental

Take your snorkel gear with you for even more fun on your paddle board adventure.

You should hold the paddle so that the blade is angled toward the nose (front) of the board. If your paddle has a logo or graphics on the blade, that is usually on the side that should face forward. This might be counterintuitive for many beginners, but the angle of the paddle helps to make each stroke more efficient for the paddler.

How do I achieve balance?

At first, the best idea is to focus on the horizon. It doesn’t move. The ocean beneath you, however exciting, does move. By keeping your back straight and raising your head, you will naturally distribute your weight over your feet.

What happens if I fall?

Well, everyone falls! It’s just part of the experience. This is why it’s a very good idea to give yourself plenty of space from other paddle boarders or surfers when you’re first learning. When you do find yourself falling, try to fall away from the board to protect yourself from hitting anything hard. Don’t worry about the board: it will stay attached to you with that handy leash you put on earlier.

How can I make the most of every stroke?

We have ultra strong, but light carbon fiber paddles. They’re so light that they float. That reduces how much muscle you need for paddling. However, it is important to use your core muscles to make your strokes count. If you only use your arm muscles, you will get tired faster. Generally you aren’t trying to go fast. You aren’t running a race. So pace yourself, take breaks, and enjoy a stroll on the water.

How far can I go?

Kapalua Bay

Aerial view of Kapalua Bay in Maui, Hawai’i.

There’s a trick to how far you should go. You want to get far enough away from the shore that you don’t have to worry about a crashing wave that will knock you off. On the other hand, you want to stay near enough to shore that you can get to safety if winds suddenly get too strong or you see a storm coming. If conditions do change when you’re out on the water, get low to your board to reduce your wind resistance, and make your way to shore as quickly and safely as possible.

How close can I be to other paddle boarders?

For safety, you want to keep your distance from another paddle board, especially when entering the water. Once you are standing on the board in calmer waters, you can stay in proximity to one another, keeping a zone around you where you can fall safely without hitting the other person’s board.

Can families go paddle boarding?

family paddle board rentals

Auntie Snorkel has all you need for a fun day of paddle boarding in Maui.

Absolutely. Some children are old enough for their own board. Others are just right to go along with Dad or Mom. For everyone’s safety, we don’t rent boards for children under ten. Obviously adults should practice SUP boarding first before taking children. We rent life jackets and yellow waist flotation devices at our store to help you and your children stay safe.

How much instruction do you need?

At Auntie Snorkel, we give basic instructions to beginners all of the time. We pick wide, stable boards that most people can handle. Whenever possible, be sure to pick beaches where lifeguards are present.

For more tips, please call Auntie Snorkel. We can give you the latest news and up-to-date conditions so you can make the most of your paddle boarding in Maui. We’ve got all of the gear you need to have fun, to stay safe, and to make memories to last a lifetime. It’s easy to reserve your gear online and save money with 2-for-1 offers and discounts. We look forward to seeing you soon. Aloha!

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About Mark Noble

Auntie Snorkel shop has been serving Maui’s fun seekers for over 33 years, established in 1985. We are the original South Maui Snorkel Shop. When I bought the shop ten years ago from Auntie we decided to keep the name. The name Auntie is a term of respect here in Hawaii. I am living my dream. I get to meet awesome people from all over the world and share with them my love and knowledge of this magical island I get to call home. We know all the spots. I have lived here since 2001. We are the true definition of a family owned and operated shop. I answer the phones and work the shop along with my family. When you shop with us you are supporting my ohana and for that I thank you!! Why go anywhere else? We are the friendliest, fastest, cheapest and our location is the most epic! Mahalo and Aloha.

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