Windsurfing, invented in the 1950s, found its true home at Hookipa on Maui's North Shore in 1980. Seemingly overnight, windsurfing pros from around the world flooded the area. Equipment evolved, amazing film footage was captured, and a new sport was born.

If you're new to the action, you can get lessons from the experts islandwide. For a beginner, the best thing about windsurfing is that (unlike surfing) you don't have to paddle. Instead, you have to hold on like heck to a flapping sail as it whisks you into the wind. Needless to say, you're going to need a little coordination and balance to pull this off. Instructors start you out on a beach at Kanaha, where the big boys go. Lessons range from two-hour introductory classes to five-day advanced "flight school."

Equipment and Lessons

Action Sports Maui. The quirky, friendly professionals here will meet you at Kanaha Beach Park on the North Shore, outfit you with your sail and board, and guide you through your first "jibe," or turn. They promise your learning time for windsurfing will be cut in half. Lessons begin at 9 am every day except Sunday and cost $89 for a 2½-hour class. Three- and five-day courses cost $279 and $469, respectively. 96 Amala Pl., Kahului, Hawaii, 96732. 808/283--7913;

Hawaiian Sailboarding Techniques. Considered one of Maui's finest windsurfing schools, Hawaiian Sailboarding Techniques brings you quality instruction by skilled sailors. Founded by Alan Cadiz, an accomplished World Cup Pro, the school sets high standards for a safe, quality windsurfing experience. Intro classes start at $99 for 2½ hours, gear included. The company is inside Hi-Tech Surf Sports, which offers excellent equipment rentals. Hi-Tech Surf Sports, 425 Koloa St., Kahului, Hawaii, 96732. 808/871–5423;

Maui Paddle Sports. Glide atop the ocean inside a six-person outrigger canoe, as you spot turtles, marine life, and even humpback whales during their winter migration. A complimentary reusable water bottle is a nice touch, and the delightful guides are eager to share their local knowledge. 2780 Kekaa Dr., Kaanapali, Hawaii, 96761. 808/283--9344; $85.

Second Wind. Located in Kahului, this company rents boards for whatever kind of water sport you're into—windsurfing, kiteboarding, stand-up paddling, or surfing—plus lessons are offered in each discipline. Need ocean-inspired threads for when you're on dry land? They've got that, too. 111 Hana Hwy., Kahului, Hawaii, 96732. 808/877–7467;