Maui Surf

Summer South Swell Fun at Makena

August 3, 2012, 3:45 PM HST
* Updated August 7, 10:10 AM
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Surf reporter Carlos Rock is an experienced surfing instructor who has been riding Maui’s waves his entire life.

By Carlos Rock

Bodyboarder inside the tube at Big Beach. Photo: Carlos Rock

Carlos Rock inside the tube at Big Beach. Courtesy photo.

A small but manageable southwest swell has produced decent waves for the south shore of Maui and the rest of Hawaii.

The waves at Big Beach today were in the 2 to 3-foot range on the Hawaiian scale*, which means the waves were 4 to 6 foot faces as body/boogie boarders, bodysurfers, and tourists, tried their luck in the often times dangerous shore break.

The lifeguards were on high alert as tourists were warned not to enter the water if they were “not experienced with these types of conditions.”


The lifeguards’ motto for the day, and one that should stick with any surfer or risk taker, is “be safe, not sorry.”


They are very simple words but can mean everything to someone unsure of their abilities in the ocean.

This swell arrived with long lulls (long waits in between the big waves) just as they were forecasted on the swell report. The lulls meant that the ocean will look deceivingly calm for a short time period (5-20 minutes) and then out of nowhere, a huge set wave will stand up far from shore ready to detonate on the inexperienced and provide an exceptional ride for others.


A huge wave a Big Beach about to explode on the shore. Photo: Carlos Rock.

If you don’t already know, the reputation of Big Beach is synonymous with injury from broken necks and twisted ankles, to near drowning and other injuries. However, it also brings to mind memories of pulling into (letting the wave curl over yourself) massive crystal clear blue barrels and getting washed up on the shore from morning till night.


Bodyboarding or bodysurfing at Big Beach has its benefits for every surfer:

-It allows the surfer to become more comfortable in barreling waves.

-It makes you a stronger and more confident swimmer.

-Bodysurfing is just good plain fun and great exercise.

-Boogie boarding makes the surfer more well rounded by being able to ride any type of board.

-Teaches you that you cannot control or overpower the ocean.


Imagine the ocean going from completely flat to this within minutes. Big Beach 2011 file photo. Photo: Carlos Rock

There are two types of people who go to Big Beach; those who have taken a beating by getting pile-driven into the sand by a wave and those who have not.

The moment you enter the water you feel the danger and unsuspecting nature of arguably the most beautiful beach on Maui.

We recommend visiting Big Beach during a decent south swell, like one arriving on Monday (8/6) or Tuesday (hopefully it doesn’t get blocked by other islands) to witness the power of Mother Nature.


“Be Safe, Not Sorry.” Big Beach 2011. File photo: Carlos Rock.

If it gets big enough, like 10 to 12 feet, one wave has the power to close out the entire beach. It is a miracle that this beautiful mile long, white sand beach with crystal clear water can produce some of the most menacing waves on the island.

If you are in need of some barrel time, some sand in your ears and other places, and a lesson in shore break, then there is one place that you need to go.

*Hawaiian scale of judging wave height is from the back and only accounts for half of the wave size.

Make the most of your Maui vacation with these top-rated activities: Maui Top 20: Maui Visitor & Tourism Information
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