Hawaii Windsurfing & Kitesurfing
Posing with our gear (circa mid 80's!)
Windsurfing... Sailing & Surfing
Hawaii windsurfing and kitesurfing is as good as it gets and it's no wonder that it all started here in the islands.
When my wife, Dawn, and I started windsurfing back in the eighties, little did I know that it would become my biggest passion for over ten years! At that time, the “crowd” of windsurfers on a windy day at our home spot in Kailua made it difficult to find a spot in the launch area to lay down your rig.
The Hawaii windsurfing scene was one of mild chaos with experienced sailors zipping in and out amidst a constant herd of beginners struggling to pull their sails out of the water then falling over backwards as the sail came up.
After so many attempts and wipeouts, I finally nail a "duck-jibe"!
But Hawaii windsurfing times have changed, at least in Kailua. Nowadays, when the wind is blowing, you might find three to four windsurfers in all of Kailua Bay and perhaps three to four times as many kitesurfers.
Yet, despite the diminished windsurfing activity here on Oahu, there couldn't be a better time to pick up the sport!
I wasn't the only one hooked on windsurfing - Dawn gets into the groove with her second new board!
The old days would see a crowd any time the the winds blew over twenty knots.
The level of equipment available to windsurfers now, whether they’re rank beginners or hardcore experts, is like night and day when compared to what we used a few short years ago!
Learn How To Windsurf
Our family friend and fellow Kailua resident, Neezcha Dinman, starts sailing during a windsurfing lesson.
Beginner rigs are stable and enable a much quicker learning curve while the “high-tech” rigs offer the utmost in lightness, speed, and sailing efficiency to turn harder, jump higher, and increase the number of flips or rotations!
Hawaii Windsurfing Locations:
Not standing on the sidelines, Neezcha's mom, Kathy Dinman, gets up and going, too!
Kailua Beach, , on Oahu, is often considered the home of Hawaii windsurfing... or the world for that matter, due in large to one of its most famous residents, one Robby Naish, the biggest name in windsurfing bar none! As a kid, Robby took to the cumbersome rigs of the day and pushed the level of performance to where it eventually attracted scores of others fascinated by the speed and exhilaration of the then “new” sport. The whole Naish family became immersed in windsurfing--putting out cutting edge boards and sails and then, when kitesurfing began to take hold, augmented their expertise and inventory to cater to the growing fans of kitesurfing, too.
Perhaps the lull in windsurfing might make it a very good time to take up the sport as equipment costs have stayed relatively low due to the lower demand and learning in a less crowded area would always make for a much more relaxed experience. The best Hawaii windsurfing spots are definitely on the islands of Maui and Oahu primarily due to the more convenient launching conditions at the prime spots and of course, for the experienced sailors, waves!
On Maui, both of the hotspots are on the island’s north side. Kanaha Bay right near the Kahului Airport offers strong steady winds which blow parallel to the shore (perfect for zipping in and out) and the famous Ho’okipa Beach which offers the best wavesailing (windsurfing in waves) in Hawaii, and possibly the world! In Maui, the morning hours are generally greeted by light winds which increase almost always to a strong 25+ miles per hour by the early afternoon, except the week Dawn and I flew over for our Maui windsurfing vacation! Here you’ll find windsurfing/kitesurfing shops like Maui Sailboards and Hi-Tech which have been at the forefront of the windsurfing industry all along and continue with the advent of kitesurfing.
Oahu, while a little tamer than Maui, offers excellent windsurfing particularly in Kailua for flat water (slalom sailing) and some wave jumping. In Kailua, the winds blow predominantly onshore which makes it a little harder to sail away from the shore but a lot safer when it’s time to come in! Kailua is probably the best spot on Oahu for beginners and offers two places from which you can rent equipment or get lessons--Naish Hawaii and Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks.
For all and out wavesailing on Oahu, it’s Diamond Head beach where the strong tradewinds blow sideshore (parallel to the shore) and the waves are perfectly suited to long and exciting rides. When venturing out at Diamond Head, be sure to observe where other sailors are going to avoid shallow areas and areas where board surfers are clustered. I’ve been witness to a “thinks-he’s-great” windsurfer jumping a wave only to land amidst a bunch of understandably angry board surfers in the lineup!
Around the corner from Diamond Head, in the ritzy neighborhood of Kahala, is Kahala Beach Park which offers some very decent wavesailing with a fraction to none of the crowd you’d experience at Diamond Head. Going in and out at Kahala, though, can be a bit tricky especially at low tide. Be sure you know where the channels and shallows are before venturing out. If not, don’t hesitate to move on to another beach.
Heading out to Oahu's famed north shore (especially for those of us who are not goofy footers!), you'll find some great windsurfing at Backyards, an obscure break next to Sunset Beach, and Mokuleia Beach out past Waialua. Both spots offer good wavesailing and, like any north shore surf spot, get dangerous as heck when the surf gets big. Be careful in both of these areas for shallow spots in the reefs!
Kitesurfing... Speed & Airtime
I’ve never tried kitesurfing myself and, all things considered (family, kayak fishing, and aches and pains that never go away), I probably never will. But that doesn't stop me from marveling at the speed and airtime this new wave of windriders are getting in what seems to be the rage sport.
As it is for wind surfing, Kailua is a great place to pursue kitesurfing and, on every island, you’ll find decent to great windsurfing as well as kitesurfing. Most important is to know your wind directions, wave conditions, and bottom contours (reefs and depths).
Remember, for windsurfing and kitesurfing, sideshore winds are best for performance, onshore winds are the safest, and offshore winds can easily blow you out to sea!
Visit our Hawaii Beach Safety Tips" page for a quick overview of these factors and be sure to consult with Hawaii windsurfing and kitesurfing shop operators to determine where you’d have the most fun!
Learn How To Kitesurf
If you're looking to learn to windsurf or kitesurf there are many options. One I'd highly recommend is Endless Adventures Hawaii. They offer lessons in windsurfing and kitesurfing, as well as SUP (stand-up paddling) lessons and tours, and surfing lessons!
Endless Adventures Hawaii is really good for windsurfing & kitesurfing lessons and rentals as the company is comprised of folks who've lived here all their lives, growing up on Hawaii's beaches! Submit the form below to access their activity information and reservations details - that's how we know you're a real person...
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