Maui's coastline has surf for every level of waterman or -woman. Waves on leeward-facing shores (West and South Maui) tend to break in gentle sets all summer long. Surf instructors in Kihei and Lahaina can rent you boards, give you onshore instruction, and then lead you out through the channel, where it's safe to enter the surf. They'll shout encouragement while you paddle like mad for the thrill of standing on water—most will give you a helpful shove. These areas are great for beginners; the only danger is whacking a stranger with your board or stubbing your toe against the reef.

The North Shore is another story. Winter waves pound the windward coast, attracting water champions from every corner of the world. Adrenaline addicts are towed in by Jet Ski to a legendary, deep-sea break called Jaws. Waves here periodically tower upward of 40 feet. The only spot for viewing this phenomenon (which happens just a few times a year) is on private property. So, if you hear the surfers next to you crowing about Jaws "going off," cozy up and get them to take you with them.

Whatever your skill, there's a board, a break, and even a surf guru to accommodate you. A two-hour lesson is a good intro to surf culture.

You can get the wave report each day by checking page 2 of the Maui News, logging on to the Glenn James weather site (, or by calling 808/871–5054 (for the weather forecast) or 808/877–3611 (for the surf report).

Equipment and Lessons

Surf camps are becoming increasingly popular, especially with women. One- or two-week camps offer a terrific way to build muscle and self-esteem simultaneously.

Big Kahuna Adventures. Rent soft-top longboards here for $20 for two hours, or $30 for the day. Weekly rates are $125. The shop also offers surf lessons starting at $65, and rents kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, plus snorkel and beach gear. The company is across from Cove Park. 1913-C S. Kihei Rd., Kihei, Hawaii, 96753. 808/875–6395;

Goofy Foot. Surfing "goofy foot" means putting your right foot forward. They might be goofy, but we like the right-footed gurus here. This shop is just plain cool and only steps away from "Breakwall," a great beginner's spot in Lahaina. A two-hour class with five or fewer students is $70, and you're guaranteed to be standing by the end or it's free. A private two-hour lesson is $160. 505 Front St., Suite 123, Lahaina, Hawaii, 96761. 808/244–9283;

Hi-Tech Surf Sports. Hi-Tech has some of the best boards, advice, and attitude around. It rents even its best surfboards—choose from longboards, shortboards, and hybrids—starting at $25 per day. There's another shop in Paia, and a third location in Kihei across the street from Cove Park, a popular surf spot for beginners. 425 Koloa St., Kahului, Hawaii, 96732. 808/877–2111;

Maui Surfer Girls. Maui Surfer Girls started in 2001 with surf camps for teen girls, but quickly branched out to offer surfing lessons year-round. Located away from the crowds, Maui Surfer Girls specializes in private lessons and small groups, and their ratio of four students per instructor is the smallest in the industry. The highly popular summer camps are still run for teen girls, and are now open to women as well. Lahaina, Hawaii, 96761. 808/201--6109;

Maui Surf Clinics. Instructors here will get even the shakiest novice riding with the school's beginner program. A two-hour group lesson (up to five students) is $85. Private lessons with the patient and meticulous instructors are $170 for two hours. The company provides boards, rash guards, and water shoes, all in impeccable condition—and it's tops in the customer-service department. 505 Front St., Suite 201, Lahaina, Hawaii, 96761. 808/244–7873;

Outrageous Surf School. If you're not too keen on shore lessons, Outrageous Surf School might be your best bet. After a quick demo in the shop, down to the Breakwall you go. Lessons start at $50 for a group lesson, $70 for a semiprivate lesson, and $120 for a private lesson. Repeat lessons are $40. 640 Front St., Lahaina, Hawaii, 96761. 808/669–1400;

Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy. Owner Kimo Kinimaka grew up rippin' it with his uncle, legendary surfer Titus Kinimaka, so it's no wonder his passion translates to a fun memorable time at the novice-friendly Lahaina Breakwall. Private lessons are $175, and group lessons cost $75 per person. Rash guards and shoes are provided. 113-B Prison St., Lahaina, Hawaii, 96761. 808/276–7873;

Second Wind. Surfboard rentals at this centrally located shop are a deal—good boards go for $20 per day or $130 per week. The shop also rents and sells its own Elua Makani boards (which means "second wind" in Hawaiian). Although the staff don't offer lessons, they will book you with the best surfing, windsurfing, and kiteboarding lessons on the island. 111 Hana Hwy., Kahului, Hawaii, 96732. 808/877–7467;