Hawaii is a surfer’s and paddleboarder’s idea of heaven but aside from its awesome beaches and fast waves it’s home to shops like SIC Maui Custom , which we have featured before here on Paddlexaminer. SIC is a world-class standup paddleboard maker that all paddleboarders visiting Hawaii should know about.
Then again, what good is a top-of-the-line paddleboard if it isn’t used, right? Fortunately, Hawaii has many places to test your standup paddling skills whether you’re a novice or an expert. Here are some of our best picks for places to enjoy this fantastic water sport.
The ultimate destination would be Kohanaiki, which is an exclusive membership only travel club. Members can buy top of the range homes near the beachfront. Unfortunately, this is a just a pipe dream for many, with Travel + Leisure including the club in their ‘6 Fancy Trips to Take If You Win the $700-million Powerball’ article. While this year’s jackpot may not be as high, Lottoland reports that the current Powerball jackpot stands at $426 million which would still be more than enough to spend months on end relaxing at this wonderful beach paradise. One can only dream, right?
Kohanaiki maybe the ultimate destination, but there are other options, too. One is Maliko Gulch, located on the northern shore of Maui. It is a venerable gateway to the big ocean, which makes it a perfect destination for paddleboarding. In fact, paddleboarders all around the world converge here for the famed Maliko Run — a nine-mile adventure from Maliko Gulch to Kaului.
But a word of caution: If you plan to join this adventure, make sure you go with someone with extensive experience as it can be dangerous for beginners. For accommodation, the cozy Maliko Retreat and Coffee Cabin are obvious choices, though booking rooms might be a challenge due to their popularity. As an alternative you could stay in any hotel or lodging in Maui and then schedule a trip to the Gulch.
Also located in Maui is Napili Bay. While it’s known for its less-than-ideal climate and rough conditions, it is a paddleboarder’s haven nonetheless. The bay presents a formidable challenge, not to mention a unique charm. Simply, Napili Bay is nature at its unadulterated finest. That means paddleboarding in crystal clear waters amid a backdrop of natural beauty. Nearby accommodation include the Mauian Hotel, Napili Village, Hale Napili, Outrigger Napili Shores Resort, Napili Kai Beach Resort, Napili Sunset Beachfront Resort, and Napili Surf Beach Resort.
Ala Moana Beach Park
Nestled in Oahu is the stunning Ala Moana Beach Park. In a feature in Hawaii Magazine it is described by as a “calm, protected lagoon,” meaning it is perfect for beginners. Advanced paddleboarders, meanwhile, can venture out into the outer reef to ride surf breaks for a bit of a challenge. Accommodation is relatively easy with the Ala Moana Hotel, which is a mere five-minute walk away from the free beach park. There are also nearby hotels, like the Waikiki Beachside Hostel and the Kuhio Banyan Hotel.
Keauhou Bay in Kona is a historically and culturally significant site in Hawaii as it is the birthplace of the legendary King Kamehameha III. It also happens to be a paddleboarder’s paradise, with its calm, crystal clear waters, its gorgeous harbor, and a coastline full of cooled lava beds. The Keauhou Resort is the perfect place to stay, though it might be on the pricey side. Fortunately, there are cheaper alternatives in Kona, like Uncle Billy’s Kona Bay Hotel, Hilton Waikoloa Village, Kona Reef, and Paniolo Greens at Waikoloa Village.
Hidden in Kailua is this stunning, idyllic beach that is truly representative of Hawaii’s natural beauty. The name Lanikai, in fact, literally means “heavenly sea,” and the sea, indeed, is heavenly — clean, clear, and calm in its regal aqua blue color. The sand is pristine white, and the surroundings are spectacular to say the least. That’s why it’s worth the trip even if the beach is located on the windier coast of Kailua Bay. As for the accommodation, there’s a good chance you will be able to score a budget-friendly Airbnb near the beach since it is mostly located in Kailua’s residential area. Just make sure you watch out for the jellyfish!
Historic like Keauhou Bay, Kealakekua Bay boasts the only underwater state park in Hawaii. Clear waters provide visitors a spectacular view underwater, which is teeming with marine life — dolphins, rays, sea turtles, and much more. Novice paddleboarders are advised to paddle in the morning, when the water is at its most tranquil. Those with experience are encouraged to go out in the afternoon, when conditions tend to be a little more exciting. Halemalu Kona, A Beautiful Edge of the World Bed & Breakfast, and Belle Vue Kona B&B Inc. are some of the mid-priced hotels available nearby, along with Airbnb and similar alternatives.
There’s no doubt Hawaii is perfect for paddleboarders. It is, after all, the birthplace of stand-up paddleboarding, with surf pioneer Laird Hamilton at the forefront. We’ve listed seven of our favorite locations here, but there are plenty more to explore. To this end, we strongly encourage that you ask the locals for suggestions on how to cut costs. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation without your pocket taking a massive hit.