by Diana Pond Klase
Now that so many spots are opened up across the planet for kiting you may ask yourself, "why should I check out Maui? I have all the choices in the world, dude!"
Dude! (or Dudette!)... There are so many reasons!
Picture yourself riding cross-onshore winds out on warm turquoise waters looking toward sandy beaches and a magnificent volcanic mountain called Haleakala.
With rainbows arching across the North Shore, the sun shining, trades blowing steady, and waves breaking across the outer reefs, ... this is kiteboarder's paradise.
This is Maui.
There are conditions to please every level of rider, from first-timers to seasoned pros. It is no accident that this is the place chosen over and over again by the world's top riders to return to. Many of them base themselves here year-round to take advantage of the exceptional quality conditions Maui is so well-known for.
Whether flat water is your passion, or you prefer wave-riding, there is nearly always a spot that will please you.
The waters are warm year-round, and the strength of the sun is tempered by the daily trade-winds bringing fresh and cooling breezes.
Unlike many other destinations you never need a wetsuit in Hawaii. Just board shorts, and a rashie if you like... (or not... one of our well-recognized kiteboarders has even been seen out kiting with nothing on but his harness... now that's showing some balls!)#2 - WIND
Maui's unique topography creates some of the most reliable wind conditions on the planet. The island is composed of two major volcanic masses. 10,023 foot Haleakala, and the 5,788 foot high West Maui Mountains. Between these are the Central Valley. With normal trade winds blowing out of the Northeast or East these two masses funnel those winds across the valley.
Kite Beach is located on the North Shore (at Kanaha) at the top of this valley. The wind flows right through Kanaha. This is a prime example of the Venturi Effect in action and we definitely benefit from it at Kite Beach!
When occasionally the wind direction shifts, the West and South sides of the island become the premium spots to kite, so as long as the wind is blowing you can generally find a great spot to ride.
*The summer months are the most consistently windy, the best waves are in the fall, winter, and spring. Although kiting here is year-round the winter months can be wind-less for a week or two (or even three sometimes...ghack!) so if you only have a short time to visit summer is best as you are almost guaranteed wind.
**As a general rule winter kite sizes run in the 9-15m range while summertime winds usually require kites in the 6-9m range. Summer trades can blow over 30 mph when they are at their peak but are more normally between 15-25 mph.
**NOTE: As a courtesy to divers and fishermen kites are not launched on the water prior to 11:00 a.m.
**Additionally, there is an area where kiting is prohibited by the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States of America. This area includes the beaches located at the end of the Kahului Airport runways.#3 - NO HASSLES
We have no strange diseases, parasites, or malarial mosquitoes, and our water is safe to drink. The crime rate is low, and the attitude is laid-back and relaxed. Nobody's harassing you for baksheesh, stylos, or bon-bons, and you're not seen as the target foreigners are in many places. Smile and you'll get a smile in return. Nice!
English is the language spoken, and currency is the U.S. dollar. (Which means Maui is a super-bargain for citizens of those countries whose currencies are currently trading so high against it)!!#4 - CULTURE, ACTIVITIES, AND ADVENTURES
If you decide to take a break from riding to explore the island there are an abundance of sights and activities to enjoy that are sadly lacking in many other kite destinations.
In addition to some of the world's best beaches, Maui has mountains and deserts, jungles and ranch lands, pineapple and cane-fields, and even snow once in a while, albeit at 10,000 feet. There are Asian temples, missionary churches, and whaling museums to visit. Hippy towns, rodeos and trendy resorts.
You can paraglide, horseback ride, take a dive-boat trip, explore caves, hike, eat sushi, enjoy a helicopter flight around the island, golf, shop, sing karaoke in a Korean bar, try Stand-Up Paddle-Boarding, taste pineapple wine at the local winery, fish, camp, hunt wild pigs, join the naked drum circle at Little Beach on a Sunday evening, tour a sugar cane factory, check out the sharks at the aquarium, get lei'd, eat Spam Musubi at 7-11, take a yoga class, experience the abundance of art galleries that designate Maui "Art Capital of the Pacific", go surfing, play "spot the mahu" (transvestite) in Wailuku (or on Front Street in Lahaina), go to a luau, drink too many mai-tais, watch Tahitian hula dancers, ride a bike down the volcano, play tennis, drive a Harley, and if all that's not enough then hit the Saturday Market in Kahului for even more local-style culture.
The population is a melting-pot of Hawaiian, Filipino, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Haole (white), and more. The various cultures have amalgamated here to create a unique and beautiful example of many peoples becoming one ohana (family). Unlike a majority of places, where cultures clash, ours in Hawaii tend to blend and adapt.#5 - WIDE VARIETY OF ACCOMMODATIONS
Whether your style is high-end, luxury resorts frequented by the rich and famous, or back-packer hostels, family-style self-catering condos, or quaint bed and breakfasts, you can find it all here with little effort.
The North Shore is the home of Paia and Haiku, laid-back hippy/surfer towns with a splash of high-dollar tossed in at Spreckelsville.
The South Shore is home to Wailea and Kihei. Resorts, hotels, condos galore. Wailea is up-scale with high-end resorts and world-class golf courses while Kihei has condos of every price and description readily available, plenty of grocery and convenience stores, and a colorful night-life.
Lahaina, Ka'anapali, and Napili on the West Side of the island also offer a wide variety of accommodations, restaurants, shops, and night-life but are a farther distance from the main kite beach at Kanaha.#6 - LOADS OF TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS
Rental cars, trucks, vans, motorbikes, flashy sports cars, dented old beaters, SUVs, 4WD, if you want to rent a vehicle you certainly have a lot of choices!
There is also a pretty good public transportation system with regular bus service to many parts of the island, and of course, loads of hungry taxi drivers as well.
Hitchhiking is a popular choice for some people, and if you're here for a bit of a longer stay you may consider buying one of the many "Maui Cruisers" that are always on the market.
It is exceptionally easy to buy a used car on Maui and then sell it on again when you leave and that is a popular option for longer-term budget-conscious visitors. #7 - PROFESSIONAL KITE LESSONS
Often when you hit a new spot there are unanswered questions regarding the safety and details of that particular place.
Every kite beach has its own little quirks and Maui is certainly no exception.
If you have not yet begun to kite, or have been kiting a while but would like a bit of assistance getting comfortable with our kite beach, Maui has many highly trained and experienced, safety-conscious instructors who give professional instruction to all skill levels.
Lessons are conducted at the more southerly end of Kanaha's Kite Beach. The winds are cross-onshore and the beach is a long curve of sand with plenty of room for safe downwind practice runs.
Easily spotted on Kite Beach, our favorite school is Aquasports Maui. In business from nearly the inception of the sport, they feature the very latest and safest Naish kite-gear, experienced IKO-trained instructors, follow-up guidance and advice on kiting, safety, and gear for all students, and are always a very friendly and trusted presence at Kite Beach.
Their lessons are reasonably priced and can be booked either on-line (http://www.kiteboardingmaui.com
) or via telephone (country code 001 (808) 242-8015 ), or if you like, in person at the beach.
*In addition Aquasports Maui provide support for http://www.kitebeachcam.com
, a live web-cam that allows you to check out the action at Kite Beach every day but Sunday to see who and what's going on. (We LOVE this)!#8 - SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
If you are taking your kite trip with loved ones, sometimes those darlings aren't so interested in sitting on the windy beach admiring your creative skills with a kite.
For those, of course first we offer kite lessons. Get them involved!... then they will want to hang at the beach all day with you and you don't have to try to find alternative entertainments for them.
But if that isn't working for you Maui is the perfect kite destination because there are so many other activities to please anyone, whatever their age, sex, skill levels, or interests.... (see #4).... and that is a definite advantage over many other locations.
To sum it all up; I've experienced many kite destinations around the world.
I have enjoyed the cozy rubbery goodness of wet-suit heaven.
I've baked for hours waiting for that breath of kite-able wind to appear for 10 minutes at a time.
I've experienced the delights of kiting in off-shore winds, on-shore winds, huge tidal ranges, massive shore-breaks, ugly protruding rocks and reef, and more chop than a Ginsu knife.
On the way I've lived with locals who would rip you off blind if your eyeballs weren't attached, boiled well-water borrowed from the camels, donkey, and sheep, struggled with strange languages, argued with officials over the right to kite... (then paid them money for that right)...
and know for certain there is no place I'd rather be kiting than Maui!!!
So, yes.. you do have a lot of choices, dude... but...
Maui No Ka Oi (Maui is the best)!
For more info on Kiteboarding in Maui, visit http://www.kiteboardingmaui.com