Popular Hawaii Surf Lessons: Travel Weekly

Tovin Lapp

Dating back to 1779, when Lieutenant James King, who served under James Cook, described native Hawaiians riding the waves with wooden planks, the islands were the epicenter of the expansion of surfing around the world. In 1885, three Hawaiian princes attending military school in California made their own redwood boards and surfed the waves in Santa Cruz, officially bringing the sport to the mainland. Years later, the surfing shows of Olympic swimmer and famous waterman Duke Kahanamoku helped popularize it in the United States, Australia and elsewhere.

Continuing this tradition of showing the rest of the world how to wave surf, a few weeks ago in Tokyo, where surfing made its debut as an Olympic sport, Carissa Moore, from Oahu, won the medal. Golden.

“It was a sweet victory,” said Dustin Tester, a former competitive surfer who now owns and operates Maui surfer girls school and camp. “Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing, and we were so thrilled that Carissa won gold. We have this pride here to surf from Hawaii, and that was really important.”

Surfing is certainly one of the first images conjured up when mainlanders imagine Hawaii, and with travelers returning to the islands this summer following pandemic lockdowns, surf schools are seeing a tidal wave of students. It helps whether this is an activity that is largely unaffected by social distancing protocols or other Covid-19 restrictions.

Indeed, Maui Surfer Girls, which offers both co-ed classes and separate camps for teens and women, is busier than ever. Almost all of the camp sessions for 2022 are sold out, the first that has ever happened. The current waitlist for daily classes is approaching 100, the largest number of testers ever.

“So many people want the outdoors after being in the pandemic for a year and a half,” Tester said. “We have many more people contacting us than we can accept. “

For travelers to Hawaii who want to test their wave surfing skills, Tester has offered a few tips.

Book well in advance: During the busy summer months and during holiday periods such as Spring Break or Christmas, Tester recommends booking a surf lesson at least two months in advance. Surf schools like his get licenses to operate in certain areas, and Tester is very careful not to abuse this privilege by accepting more students than an area can handle.

“We don’t want the waves to get overcrowded and we want to make sure we leave room for the locals,” she said. “I could hire five more instructors to take people off the waitlist, but one of the reasons for our success is that we try not to overbook and keep things manageable so that everyone has a great experience. . “

The first surfers get the best waves: Conditions tend to be better in the morning, before the trade winds rise, making the water choppy and paddling difficult. Stay on time from the mainland and take the first class offered.

More fitness, more fun: Maui Surfer Girls only requires participants to know how to swim, but Tester says that a certain level of fitness can go a long way. Surfing requires a good dose of paddling, balance and lung power. Spending time before the trip working on fitness, in or out of the water, can make surf lessons both more rewarding and enjoyable.

“Surfing is a very demanding sport and ocean conditions can change quickly,” Tester said. “People should just be aware that this is a great workout, and maybe going to the luau the night before your class and having a few shut up isn’t the best idea.”

Trust the process: Maui Surfer Girl’s two-hour classes begin with half an hour of on-land instruction covering everything from water safety and basic surfing skills, from showing off on the board to how to properly position yourself in the surf. water to catch a wave. There is a lot to do once in the ocean, and training on dry land is important to feeling calm, comfortable and confident in the waves.

To be pono: The Hawaiian word pono is often translated as “justice”, but it really refers to a more complex idea of ​​consciously behaving with respect for oneself, others and the environment. Be respectful to the locals. Wait your turn for a wave and do your best to stay out of the way of others. Wear reef safe sunscreen when out on the water (Hawaiian law). Most surf breaks in Hawaii are reef-generated, and surfers should be careful not to step on fragile corals. “Use your paddling skills, not your walking skills,” Tester says.


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