Maui Surf

Windy East Swells and New Waves

February 18, 2013, 4:56 PM HST
* Updated February 18, 4:58 PM
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By Carlos Rock

Looks windy. Photo: Carlos Rock.

Very windy conditions accompany the good size northwest swell currently hitting the islands. Gusty tradewinds in the 15-30 mph+ are tearing up lineups on Maui as the 6-12 ft NW swell is providing some good waves for most spots on the north shore.

As most surfers give up surfing when it gets really windy, most people forget that the wind brings with it swell on the east side. There is a pretty big east swell in effect now with the gusty trades.

Pretty big as in 6-10 ft+ and that is big for the east facing shores. BUT, one major factor is the wind. If you don’t mind surfing 10 foot waves with 30 mph onshore winds blasting in your face then you can still go out and surf during these conditions. If not, just go home.

But for those of us that need to fulfill that craving for some adrenaline, we can still surf.


However, since there are only a few accessible spots that are still surfable with these conditions, expect some crowds as these spots are home to guys that are used to these windy conditions and will go out regardless. So, these crowds may be a little more intimidating than your usual Ho’okipa free for all.


If you are over the crowds and don’t mind a little drive, and have some extra time on your hands before or after work, there is always a spot that has waves with barely anyone out. The key is having the right knowledge of wind and swell conditions. We do live in an island after all, and a good wave can be right around the corner and shielded from the wind!

Yesterday we were able to score some great uncrowded waves near one of the most crowded spots on Maui. A little bit of exploration and a positive outlook can go a long way when looking for new things.

We surfed three hours with two other guys in perfect overhead waves as 100 other surfers sat elbow to elbow trying to get in position.

Secret spot worth the drive. Photo: Carlos Rock.


Winning. The only downside was losing a fin to the rocks when we were coming in.

We’re not telling you to go and search for waves around the island and just go and surf whatever looks surfable, that could be dangerous. Make sure you know that people surf there occasionally and if possible go with a friend or make sure there is at least one guy out.

Also to have some knowledge about the spot, if there are sharks, rip currents, shallow areas, etc. There could be a very logical reason that no one surfs that spot, it could just be too gnarly.

It helps to watch the one guy out and study how he manages the lineup. If he isn’t going for the big ones out the back and is settling for the medium size ones that run a bit further down the reef, then those are the ones you want to go for.

It also helps to have some powers of persuasion to convince someone to go surf that certain wave with you.

Nobody out. Photo: Carlos Rock.

Be safe, not sorry.

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