Wing Foiling on Maui
The opportunities for ocean adventures on Maui are seemingly endless. In fact, all of the great wind sports are here to enjoy such as kiteboarding, windsurfing, foiling, and wingfoiling. Maui is the perfect destination for wing foiling due to our predominant winds, particularly on the northern and southern shores.
Wing foiling has become increasingly popular in recent years and enjoying this unique-looking sport on Maui will undoubtedly deliver the adrenaline rush that adventure seekers are looking for. In fact, the sport looks a little tricky and it can be, here's what should you know before wing foiling on Maui?
What Is Wing Foiling?
While the idea of using a foil for lift dates back to the 19th century, Jim Drake is given credit for inventing the first 'wing' and Alex Aguera is given credit for the modernized foil board. The concept of using the wing and foil together was more of a community invention through trial and error with ocean athletes like Laird Hamilton and Kai Lenny putting their necks on the line to discover what worked and what didn't work. The sport has been evolving for a long time and will continue to evolve as wind sports have always relied on innovation and daredevils to advance forward.
Wing foiling is similar to windsurfing in some ways. A winger stands on a board and holds onto a wing by hand. While the board is somewhat similar to a windsurfing board, it has specialized hydrofoils that enable it to lift out of the water.
The wing is specifically designed to mimic the flying fish’s shape. While there are now a variety of wing styles available, the wing’s fabric is stretched over a strong frame connected to handles or handlebars. Many modern wings have replaced traditional frame wings with inflated wings.
Translating Kiteboarding or Windsurfing Experience
Because wing foiling is comparable in some ways to kitesurfing and windsurfing, learning the ropes may be easier to do for those who have some prior 'wind+board' sports experience. However, even without experience, you can expect to have it down within a week or two. Those with some relevant experience may be able to teach themselves how to wing foil, but others may consider the advantages of hiring an instructor.
The Best Conditions for Wing Foiling on Maui
Before you start enjoying the thrill of wing foiling here on Maui, you should understand what conditions will foster the best experience. Wing foiling requires wind, which is abundant throughout the Northshore of Maui. In order to take off, you will need a wind speed of between six to eight knots. However, a speed between 10 to 14 knots is ideal. This will allow you to more easily balance the board against the force of the wind.
Consider wing foiling on days with sustained winds at this level rather than occasional gusts. If you are unsure if the wind is strong enough, keep in mind that the tops of the waves will begin to form white crests when the wind speed reaches roughly 10 knots. I like to use the Windy app to see what the wind is doing and also the iKitesurf app to get the best data about local conditions.
The direction of the wind should also be considered. A wind that blows off the shore will take you out to sea. It can be challenging to work your way back to land, so you should steer clear of wing foiling under these conditions. Instead, look for winds that blow toward the shore or linearly down the shore.
Top Spots on Maui for Beginner Wing Foiling
Conditions can vary from beach to beach across Maui, but you may be more likely to find the best conditions for wing foiling on the Northshore of Maui. Kahului Harbor is also a great starting point if you are new to wing foiling. The area is mostly enclosed with only a narrow channel leading out to sea. Because of this, the water is relatively calm, and the winds may be somewhat lighter than in other areas recommended for wing foiling on Maui.
However, they are usually strong enough to enjoy great lift and speed. It is important to note that Kahului Harbor is popular with intermediate and advanced wingers as well. It is also used for motorized watercraft and commercial activities. Those who are newer to the sport should consider staying closer to shore. The beach has portable restrooms and showers for your convenience.
Where to Go for More Challenging Conditions
Once you have mastered the basics, you may be up for a bigger challenge on the water. At the western end of Kahana Beach Park, you will find an area known as Foil Beach. You can conveniently park close to the water here. There are often moderate swells and great wind conditions, and this makes the area popular for kiteboarding and other activities as well.
Fishermen frequent the area, so look for fishing lines. Because there are rocky spots along the shoreline, consider wearing reef shoes to protect your feet. You can go as far as the rock wall before getting out of the water and walking back up the shore. The area offers portable toilets and picnic tables, but it does not have showers.
There are other Kahana destinations to consider as well. For example, those who are crossing from intermediate to advanced skills will have a great time at Naish Beach. This area is known for its sand dunes and turtle population. With rock groins as well as a shallow reef farther away from the shore, Naish Beach has obstacles that add to the challenge of wing foiling. There is also a designated swim area that you will need to avoid. A portable restroom without a shower is available.
Another Kahana-area beach is Campground Beach. While you may spot a few beginners close to the shore here, there are more challenging conditions with large swells farther out. Because of the shore break, launching also requires extra skill. This area also has a shallow reef, a designated swim area, an abundance of turtles, and kiteboarders for you to avoid on the water. Toilets and showers are available.
Ho'okipa Beach is well-suited for advanced wingers. This beach is known for its strong current, commanding shore break, and a rock ledge near the launch area. Because it is possible to get stuck in rocky areas, consider wing foiling in a group at this location.
There can be massive waves here, especially in the winter. Those waves are caused by the large reef, so you may need to navigate around some moving obstacles while wing foiling. Also, keep in mind that only 10 windsurfers and wingers combined are allowed to be on the water at Ho'okipa Beach at one time.
One of Maui’s most popular spots for wing foiling is Kanaha Beach. While beginners generally hang out in a cove known as Kooks Beach, there are also more challenging conditions in the main areas. The area’s relatively consistent offshore breezes are one of the reasons for this area’s popularity.
You can also appreciate the mountain views, picnic areas, volleyball courts, and other amenities at Kanaha Beach. There is a friendly community of regulars that frequent Kanaha and they are usually more than happy to share a little insight into some of the nuances of wind sports and what they've learned over the years.
North Kihei Is For Pros
In the North Kihei area, Ohukai is suitable for expert wingers. Conditions are most favorable when a north wind is blowing. Often, afternoons are windier than mornings and may provide the most optimal conditions for wing foiling. This beach, also known as Memorial Park Beach, is rather narrow, so you will not usually have to share the water with kiteboarders. When you need a break from the water, you can check out the beautiful mural on the side of the restroom.
Other Ways To Foil on Maui
Using a wing isn't the only way to get around on a foil board. E-foiling is also a very popular way to experience the fun of foiling without the added dimension of using the wind for power. There are a couple of e-foil rentals/instructors that operate out of Sugar Beach close to the Sugar Beach Resort. Also, some are good enough to just use their legs to power the foil by pumping and using the waves to get endless runs.
Plan Your Wing Foiling Experience Today
With many beaches throughout Maui that each offer different conditions and experiences, there is ample opportunity for fun in the sun. Whether you are a beginner, an intermediate, or an expert, you will have a great time wing foiling on Maui. A lot of folks move to Maui just for the wind sports opportunities that exist, specifically on the Northshore. If you're considering a move, purchase, or sale, reach out anytime to get more information from me.
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Posted by Evan Harlow R(S) 82003 on