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Kiteboarding Travel Tips




Master Kitesurfing Instructor, David Dorn, has been visiting the Islands for over thirty years and now lives here permanently. He knows from experience that traveling combined with Kitesurfing presents its own unique set of challenges. Use some or all of Dave’s tried and proven hints and you’ll survive many of the common pitfalls that beset the Maui greenhorn.

Rent your Kitesurfing Board
Airlines are becoming more strict on excess baggage and can charge you a large fee to fly with your board. To save money and hassle lugging around you stick, why not just rent the board when you get here. This is the latest kiteboarder’s travel trend. You can rent just the days you ride, and you can try different boards for different days. The latest gear is always available, and you can exchange it to suit the conditions of the day.

Bring your IKO Card
Bring your IKO Kiteboarder Card or VDWS, certification as proof of your ability and level of training. Schools renting gear to you want to know that you can ride safely and not trash the gear or yourself. An IKO Card cuts down on the red tape and expedites rentals worldwide. Any current IKO Certified Kiteboarding Instructor can issue you with an IKO Card, when you do a check out assessment session with them. If you do not know your self-rescue skills, safety systems, riding upwind and jumping, and right of way rules, then you need a lesson for sure anyway.

Get Kitesurfing Insurance (for the rider)
Maui is a foreign destination for many travelers, and medical care here is expensive. It is a good idea to get some insurance for accidents, injury, and liability, also the cost of rescue and evacuation, in case you need a care flight to Oahu for instance. At the very least look into your medical coverage, and your travel insurance restrictions.

Take a lesson
Maui is different from most places you may have kited before. There is a common phenomenon known as the “Maui Factor” where newcomers almost always overestimate their sailing abilities and underestimate the wind conditions. Maui wind can be very strong and the ocean movements and currents are different to any lake or river kiting you may have done. There are advanced lessons for all levels of rider. A lesson can serve as an orientation to the local kiting areas, and the instructors can guide you to the good areas and help you avoid the hazards as well.

Pick a good school
When doing a lesson, orientation ride, or renting gear on Maui, only go to a legitimate school. CAUTION: there are many fake schools on the fringes offering lessons. These fake schools are non-permitted, uninsured and typically unqualified. These people are willing to scam tourists into believing they are real schools, so do not be fooled by a glitzy website, always check them out first. If you get hurt in a lesson there is no protection for you and you have no legal protection, and you are also undermining the legitimate schools and “real instructors” who have real jobs to support their families. Legitimate “CORA” schools will always display their County and State Permits on their Vans, and are always happy to prove their credentials. Only the best schools are Permitted AND “IKO Affiliated” meaning that all of their instructors are suitably qualified, currently Certified, and trained to proper international safety standards.

Know the Rules
Get to know the *Rules before you break them. kitesurfers have to share the water with fishermen, swimmers & surfers. To avoid conflicts, a strict set of rules has been established. Access for Kitesurfing is denied at many beaches and there many other localized conditions that must be observed when Kitesurfing. Did you know that there is no Kitesurfing before 11:00 am ? Ask the guys at our shop where to go and get a copy of the Maui Kiteboarding Guidelines.

Pick your Beach
The Maui coastline offers a wonderful variety of beaches. Many beaches are off-limits to Kitesurfing, and some beaches are best left to experts only. You will always find a beach that will challenge your level of ability without endangering yourself (or others). Remember that there is no rescue service that will ‘tow your board in’ should you break down. So take a responsible attitude when deciding when and where to sail. Check which beached where kitesurfing is permitted on the MKA Website.

Wear Booties
Maui is a big piece of lava covered with coral, and even the sandiest sailing beaches have many nasty sharp things that will slice up your feet, even the grass areas on some beaches are covered with Keawe (pronounced ‘Key-ahh-vay’) thorns. A pair of booties will save your feet from most scrapes and cuts. Keep your feet in good condition because you can’t sail without them. Rip Curl and O’Neill both make excellent booties with thinner soles and split toes that give you a good feel and work well with foot-straps.

Know the conditions
Most shops can tell you what’s happening each day. You may find that the wind is twice as strong at another beach or on the other side of the island. Foreknowledge will save you driving all over the Island looking for a spot and will mean that you bring the right size kites to the beach. For the weather and surf, data go to our Maui Weather page.

Rig on the Sand! not the grass
On the kite beaches, there has been a lot of effort put into rebuilding the dunes with native vegetation, and planting of native Akiaki grass to hold the sand together. Your trampling and abuse will not be appreciated. Please stay off the grass, and the other plants too, and take an extra minute to brush off the sand when you put away your gear.

Secure your Kite
Always run your lines and get your board and gear ready before you pump your kite, Lay out your lines away from the water’s edge, this is the launching and landing area. Pump up your kite and always remember to secure it with lots of sand to prevent it flying away! This way you will avoid a “loose fly-away kite” which is a dangerous and extremely anti-social thing to do, even by accident.

Watch your equipment
Boards and kites have been known to disappear from the beach fully rigged. Kitesurfing gear is expensive stuff and it tends to “grow legs” if you turn your back on it for too long. Whatever you do, don’t leave your equipment on or in your car overnight. If you go to a restaurant on the way home from the beach, park your car right outside where you can see it at all times.

Park in between the lines
When parking your car at the local beach, please take extra care to park straight and in between the lines. This way you will not be taking more space than you need and using two stalls. This is common courtesy and is expected when you visit the beaches. parking is sometimes an issue, so do not be the one who is wasting spaces.

Lock your Car
Always lock up your car at any of the beaches. There is a lot of theft from vehicles. Do not leave valuables in sight, better to put them in the trunk. Or not bring anything too valuable to the beach in the first place. Park in the most visible place. and never hide your key in the gas cap or on the tire. Every thief knows that. Also, thieves will be hidden and watch where you stash your key, and go and grab it when you are at the beach. Even if you hide it under a rock, they could be watching. Have a spare key and tie it securely into your pocket when you are in the water. And even if stepping out of the car for a two-minute surf check, do not leave the doors open or unlocked.

Cover your butt
When changing in public, keep your privates covered. Flashing is a no-no. Use the towel technique or use the change rooms. The community standard is no nudity no matter how brief. Because the families use the beach parks. Hawaii is very non-European in this regard. It may offend some locals and or get yourself a fine for indecent exposure (no kidding).

Ride with a Smile
Whenever we are on the water or even in the parking lot for that matter, remember that we are there to have fun, even if you get frustrated (which hardly ever happens in Kitesurfing) remember that the other guy is here to have fun too. Don’t force your right of way because there are still many kiters who don’t know the rules yet. A good sailor will always give way to the novice and give them plenty of room. If you keep smiling on and off the water, you will soon meet many sailing buddies who can give you; advice, praise, smiles back (and maybe even a tow-in if your gear breaks).

* Kite-Safe Guide = A free booklet available from kitesurfing shops and schools.
* ROW Rules = Just like driving your car, there are ‘Right of way’ rules, Flat Water sailing rules, special wave-sailing rules, some sailing area restrictions, and some basic Hawaiian rules ( “Kapu”); E.g.; Don’t mess with a guy who’s trying to catch his dinner!