Maui Travel Guide
Bodyboarding and Bodysurfing
Bodysurfing and "sponging" (as bodyboarding 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.
In West Maui, D. T. Fleming Beach offers great surf almost daily along with some nice amenities: ample parking, restrooms, a shower, grills, picnic tables, and a daily lifeguard. Caution is advised, especially during winter months when the current and undertow can get rough.
Between Kihei and Wailea on the South Shore, Kamaole III is a good spot for bodysurfing and bodyboarding. It has a sandy floor, with 1- to 3-foot waves breaking not too far out. It's often crowded late in the day, especially on weekends when local kids are out of school. Don't let that chase you away; the waves are wide enough for everyone.
If you don't mind public nudity (officially illegal but practiced nonetheless), Little Beach on the South Shore is the best break on the island for bodyboarding and bodysurfing. The shape of the sandy shoreline creates waves that break a long way out and tumble into shore. Because it's sandy, you only risk stubbing a toe on the few submerged rocks. Don't try bodyboarding at neighboring Big Beach—waves will slap you onto the steep shore. To get to Little Beach, take the first entrance to Makena State Beach Park; climb the rock wall at the north end of the beach.
On the North Shore, Paia Bay has waves suitable for spongers and body surfers. The beach is just before Paia town, beyond the large community building and grass field.
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 Longs Drugs, for upward of $30.
Auntie Snorkel. You can rent decent body boards here for $5 a day or $15 a week, and paddleboards for $35 a day or $150 a week. 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. Snorkel and fishing gear, beach chairs, and umbrellas are also available. 843 Wainee St., Lahaina, HI, 96761. 808/661–6252. www.westmauisports.com.