Best American Adventures: Kiteboard Maui’s North Shore


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Best Adventures
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By Robert Earle Howells; Photograph by Douglas Peebles

Maui’s Hookipa Beach has long been a crucible where wind and wave
sports are born, refined, and practiced to their perfection. Think
Robby Naish, Laird Hamilton. Think tow-out big waves, the explosion of
windsurfing, and now the apotheosis of kiteboarding. The crescent of
North Shore sand framed by grandstand bluffs gets blessed by 25-knot
trade winds and blasted by a powerful reef break that can surge to
mast-high or double that when Alaska storms deliver a big north swell.
Kiting that combination means a heart-thumping experience of big
aerobatics and incredible speed. Read: Experts only. So much so that
kiteheads are reminded to abide by federal aviation regulations.
Seriously. Mortals go early or just take a seat in the theater and
watch the show.

No one’s born with the ability to kite Hookipa,
which is why Kanaha Beach, seven miles (11 kilometers) west, exists.
Here an offshore reef slows the waves to a mere chop, allowing 150 to
300 yards (137 to 274 meters) of flat sea and a novice’s ultimate
blessing—side-shore breezes that blow you back to land. Maui, that is,
not Tahiti. It’s the place to learn the art of kiting, no windsurfing
ability required. It’s a place to evolve and transcend and just maybe
graduate. Next stop: Hookipa.

Need to Know: Contact Action Sports Maui (www.actionsportsmaui.com) for lessons, rentals, and sobering advice. An intro class is $199.

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