Maui Surf

Best South Swell in Recent History is Over

May 24, 2013, 5:06 PM HST
* Updated May 25, 12:40 PM
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By Carlos Rock

Taking flight during the south swell. Photo: Chris Hisamoto.

The epic south swell is over with just the remnants of it slowly fading away. Without a doubt, it was the best run of south swell to happen in Hawaii in recent history. And summer has just begun.

That same swell has moved on and is currently blowing up Mexico and California. It is truly remarkable that a storm system can travel hundreds and thousands of miles and still produce waves without losing all of its energy.

Thankfully Hawaii was closer to the source of it all and got to experience a solid week of pumping south swell.

Although Hawaii didn’t quite get monster size like what happened in Tahiti, at the best spots that could handle the size, there were solid waves to be had all over the place. Looking up and down the coast it was just whitewater and surfers that look like little black dots scattered throughout the lineups.

Off the top with the SUP. Photo: Chris Hisamoto.


And that should suffice because the majority of surfers wouldn’t know how to handle a below-sea level Teahupoo beast. The swell dropped to a more manageable size for the average surfer.


Basically every spot was firing for multiple days in a row. Most spots were as good as conditions get. Sunny, offshore, 6-foot, and barreling. Those are the factors right there that make for an epic day of surfing.

It was a real treat to see the potential of some of the lesser known reefs along the south side. These reefs usually suffer from shadowing from the outer islands and only turn on when the swell direction is right, and/or a massive swell. Spots in Kihei and all along Lahaina were pumping out great rides for whoever was there to take advantage.

Even the groms were charging. Photo: Chris Hisamoto.

If only the outer islands of Maui County weren’t there, the south side of Maui would look completely different. The reefs would be more refined from getting more and more swell, the land would probably be different to some extent, but during the summer months, the south side would basically always have waves.


Take the south side of Oahu for example, even a 2-5 foot swell will register at the spots there, but on Maui, that type of swell will most likely only show up as 1 to 3-feet because of the shadowing.

Hopefully mother nature has much more in store for this summer, and that epic swell was just a teaser. Or, a surfer’s worst fear may come true, summer flatness!

That could very well be the case, but if you took full advantage of this swell, then your appetite for adrenaline from gliding down a wall of water should be plenty full.

Taking the drop. Photo: Chris Hisamoto.

As if that south swell wasn’t enough, a mystery 7 to 12-foot WNW swell basically crashed the south swell party and made Ho’okipa look like it did all winter. However, the great waves were tainted by the throngs of surfers wanting to save some gas from making the trip to south side every day for the last week.

It was crowded, but everyone got some waves.

For now, give your shoulders a break, and let that sunburn heal, and keep checking back here for any more life from the south side.

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