Six of the eight majestic Hawaiian Islands are open to tourists and in this article, I will explore them to provide you with the best locations for stand up paddleboarding. Along the way, I will recommend the best paddleboard rentals to help you make your SUP Hawaii experience as enjoyable as possible.
Why SUP Hawaii?
I won’t dig deep into the history but Hawaii is the birthplace of modern paddleboarding. The earliest photographic evidence is only 60 years old. Duke Kahanamoku used a paddle to help propel his board into the waves of Waikiki. There are two more Hawaiians who often named as first: John “Pops” Ah Choy and John “Zap” Zapotocky. John didn’t stop using paddle as he surfed till the age 91 and became the oldest SUP in the world.
Each of the islands has something different to offer, regardless of your age and experience levels. Let’s start with the Big Island.
Hawaii (The Big Island)
Hawaii, the official name for the Big Island, is a joy for paddleboarders with many bays, national parks that include some of the Pacific waters, and harbors that offer amazing SUP experiences.
Kahaluu Bay features crystal clear water with amazing marine life and a wide range of facilities for tourists, including showers, restrooms, picnic tables, and showers. The bay is popular for beginners and there are many training schools to help you begin your paddleboarding experience, for example Kahaluu Bay Surf and Sea.
Keauhou Bay is one of the most scenic spots in Hawaii. The waters are quite calm compared to other bays and experienced paddleboarders can paddle in and around the sea caves and catch sight of the lively marine life.
Further north from the previous spots, Kukio Beach is a beautiful stretch of white sand and welcoming waters perfect for SUP. This beach is less crowded, which means more space for you and your friends to perform! You will find places to stay and plenty of stand up paddleboard rentals, for example Kona Boys.
Maui (The Valley Isle)
Maui is the second largest island with many mountains and valleys. It is a great destination for paddleboarding, and you will enjoy warm waters, low waves and gentle wind to help you paddle more easily. The large bays of open water with beautiful beaches are great for paddleboarders. The water is clear with an abundance of swimming fish and turtles.
It is one of the unique locations where the wind is normally at a minimum. The beach is a secluded place where there won’t be huge crowds. And you can paddleboard close to shoreline if you want – ideal for beginners and families with kids. Additionally, it is perfect for Paddleboard Hawaii yoga exercises, thanks to the calm water and the negligible trade winds.
If you don’t mind the wind and rain or if you want to test your SUP skills, Napili Bay is the place to go. The water and weather are rougher and pose a tougher challenge to paddleboarders. The beach is less crowded with plenty of room and time to enjoy the beauty of the sea, the greenery, and the shoreline. Calm and solitude are possible at Napili Bay without the distraction of other paddleboarders.
For expansive beaches and golden sands, you can’t find a better spot than Makena Beach. The open waters are calm and clear, making this the perfect location for beginners. If you worry about open waters, there are two large lava outcroppings that you can use as excellent markers.
One of the joys of paddleboarding is seeing marine animals. Kihei is a home to a diverse array of amazing marine and wildlife and you can even see humpback whales. The shallows above the reefs allow you to get close to the numerous marine species that live in warm waters.
The Maliko Run
Most experienced paddleboarders would love the Maliko Run. The warm breeze makes the conditions perfect for catching waves and veteran paddleboarders are happy to teach you new techniques or help you improve your skills.
Lanai (The Pineapple Isle)
The last of the best islands for SUP got its name from farming at the pineapple plantations. And for paddleboarders, it is the ocean around the island that is the biggest draw.
The secluded Hulopoe Beach is perfect for anyone wanting to perform stand up paddleboard Hawaii in tranquility. Their on-site facilities are good but the location is yet to be fully developed. For SUP beginners, there is a training school with 90-minute lessons that cover basics such as riding safety and etiquette.
On the water, you will see marine life and picturesque coral reef. If you are lucky, you can even see the spinner dolphins whirling through the water.
When you arrive at Polihua Beach, practically the whole place is yours – unspoiled and calm. The golden beach is best suited for skillful paddleboarders who love the almost prehistoric, untamed environment.
Stand Up Paddle Board Rentals in Hawaii
There are plenty of great places to rent a paddleboard in Hawaii but I will mention the ones that are satisfactory to most people. For paddleboard rentals on the Big Island, go to Ocean Safaris Kayak Adventures. Even though it isn’t near the beaches, it is the closest and is managed by professionals.
For paddleboard rentals on Maui, check out Quality Surfboards Hawaii on the North and Big Wave Dave Surf on the south. For paddle board rentals on Lanai, go to Waimea Bay Beach Park or Pua’ena Point and they will have everything you need. Don’f forget to choose the right board when renting: it’s tempting to go for an advanced one, but you want have time to adept to it.
That should be everything you need to get started for SUP Hawaii. Choose any of these islands and you will have a blast!