Body Boarding and Bodysurfing in Maui
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Body Boarding and Bodysurfing
Bodysurfing and "sponging" (as body boarding is called by the regulars; boogie boarding is another variation) are great ways to catch some waves without having to master surfing—and there's no balance or coordination required. A body board (or "sponge") is softer than a hard, fiberglass surfboard, which means you can ride safely in the rough-and-tumble surf zone. If you get tossed around (which is half the fun), you don't have a heavy surfboard nearby to bang your head on, but you do have something to hang onto. Serious spongers invest in a single short-clipped fin to help propel them into the wave.
Polynesians first traveled to Hawaii by outrigger canoe, and racing the traditional craft is a favorite pastime on the Islands. Canoes were revered in old Hawaii, and no voyage began without a blessing, ceremonial chanting, and a hula performance to ensure a safe journey.
How to Catch a Wave
The technique for catching waves is the same with or without a board. Swim out to where the swell is just beginning to break, and position yourself toward shore. When the next wave comes, lie on your body board (if you have one), kick like crazy, and catch it. You'll feel the push of the wave as you glide in front of the gurgling, foamy surf. When bodysurfing, put your arms over your head, bring your index fingers together (so you look like the letter "A"), and stiffen your body like a board to achieve the same effect.
If you don't like to swim too far out, stick with body boarding and bodysurfing close to shore. Shore break (if it isn't too steep) can be exhilarating to ride. You'll know it's too steep if you hear the sound of slapping when the waves hit the sand. You're looking for waves that curl over and break farther out, then roll, not slap onto the sand. Always watch first to make sure the conditions aren't too strong.
Most condos and hotels have body boards available to guests—some in better condition than others (beat-up boards work just as well for beginners). You can also pick up a body board from any discount shop, such as Kmart or Long's Drugs, for upward of $30.
Auntie Snorkel. You can rent decent body boards here for $6 a day or $18 a week, and paddleboards for $35 a day. 2439 S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, HI, 96753. 808/879–6263. www.auntiesnorkel.com.
West Maui Sports and Fishing Supply. This old country store has been around since 1987 and has some of the best prices on the west side. Surf boards go for $15 a day or $70 a week. 843 Wainee St., Lahaina, HI, 96761. 808/661–6252. www.westmauisports.com.
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