The western end of Kanaha Beach Park (N20°53.9724, W156°26.35896) on Maui's north shore is known locally as Kite Beach. It is only a few minutes from Kahului Airport and no more than 45 minutes from the resort towns of Lahaina and Wailea. Kite Beach is one of the world's best venues for kiteboarding and experiences more windy days than any other kiteboarding destination in the world. This is due to the valley between the West Maui Mountains (5788') and Haleakala (10023'), which creates a venturi effect and funnels wind across kite beach.
Kite beach offers a variety of conditions to suit different riding levels. The NE tradewinds make Kite Beach a safe venue for beginners because the side onshore winds always bring the novices safely back to shore. Also, the sandy-bottom cove where beginners practice lies inside a protective reef. That reef keeps the ocean surface waters flat, which adds to the ease of learning. A little farther from shore the waves start to break at the reef, creating a great venue for intermediate and advanced kiteboarders. From November to February, the largest waves break on the outside reef, creating spectacular wave riding for experts.
The 13-25 mph tradewinds at Kite Beach blow year round with the most predictable winds blowing from May to October. In winter, the winds can be more diverse requiring larger kites and occasionally winds will blow from the south, creating offshore winds on the north shore. That situation forces intermediate and advanced kiteboarders to move to Kihei on the south shore where the winds would be more side shore. Kiteboarding in Kihei is normally too challenging for beginners due to exposed coral in the shallow waters and the proximity to the road.
With the increasing popularity of kitesurfing, riders on Maui have developed safe kiteboarding guidelines to ensure even greater security in the sport. In addition, all kiteboarding activities in the Kite Beach area are regulated by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Regulations due to the proximity to Kahului Airport. Although a waiver to those FAA regulations allows north shore kiteboarding, riders need to be aware of the one-mile wide by two-mile long FAA corridor at the end of the airport runway extending to seaward that is expressly off-limits to kiteboarders. Kihei and Lahaina kiteboarding areas are not in the FAA zone.
Another implemented safety measure requires windsurfers and kiteboarders observe the 11 o'clock rule, which was voluntarily adopted by north shore windsurfers, fishermen, spear fishermen, and swimmers in 1988. That rule allows for swimmers and fishermen to have exclusive access to the ocean on the north shore prior to 11 am. After 11 am, when the winds pick up to near-full strength, windsurfers and kiteboarders have shared access, while watching out for any fishermen who may still be practicing their sport. If you are already kiteboarding, please stop by the KSM shop on your next kiteboarding trip to pick up a copy of the safe kiteboarding guidelines and FAA stipulations flyer.
In this section, we give you a seasonal take on the weather and make suggestions on the best time of the year to travel to Maui and find favorable winds (yes, the winds take a break even on Maui). At any time of the year, we recommend to book your kiteboard lessons once flights and accommodations have been booked in order to secure any desired dates for lessons as our instructors are normally booked one to two weeks in advance.
November through March is our winter season with cooler and rainier days than the rest of the year. But, don’t be afraid we still have warm days between those showery and cool periods and, in fact, the rains generally occur at night or early in the morning. Tradewinds blow only 40-60% of the days during these 6 months and can change to a southerly flow, forcing kiters to move to the Kihei area where the winds would be more side or side-on-shore and blow from left to right. The water temperature around the island averages 75 °F or 24 °C.
The surf action on the north and west shores can get quite large due to the big winter storms in the north Pacific Ocean, so caution should be taken especially if you venture to the north shore beaches. Kite beach on the north shore offers a variety of conditions to suit different riding levels. The NE tradewinds make Kite Beach a safe venue for beginners because the side onshore winds always bring the novices safely back to shore. Also, the sandy-bottom cove where beginners practice lies inside a protective reef. That reef keeps the ocean surface waters flat, which adds to the ease of learning. A little farther from shore, about 1/2 mile, the waves start to break at the reef, creating a great venue for intermediate and advanced kiteboarders. From November to March, the largest waves break on the outside reef, creating spectacular wave riding for experts.
April through October (even mid-November) months are kiteboarding heaven on Maui. The tradewinds are back in full force and blow 75-95% of the time on the north shore where the winds are side-on-shore and blow from right to left. Ocean temperature is a comfortable 76-80 °F or 24.4-26.6 °C. The hurricane season begins in June but rarely does a tropical system come close to Maui but when it does we get high humidity, with sticky and showery weather.
The reliable north east trade winds blow constantly night and day and are stronger in the daytime when accompanied with thermal winds that kick-in early afternoon. Summer/Fall winds are generally topping out at 20-25 mph (17-22 knots) and the air is more dense than most other locations so expect to be on a smaller kite than you're accustomed to.
Summer is when Maui sees small to medium size waves rolling onto the South facing shores from Lahaina to Wailea. These waves are generated in the Southern Hemisphere down near New Zealand. Beach goers and ocean users should be careful during these periodic high surf events as the shore break can be quite treacherous on the south facing beaches. In late summer and during the month of October, early north Pacific storms generate the first swells on the north shore making for awesome kitesurfing in the waves.
Pack your bag (you only need one bag for jeans, board shorts, sunscreen, and sunglasses-the rest will never be worn), you're coming to Maui for fun, sun, and surf!
Summer and Autumn winds top out at 20-25+ mph (17-22 knots) 75-95% of the time during April to October on the north shore and are side-on-shore, blowing from right to left. The ocean temperature is a comfortable 76-80 °F or 24.4-26.6 °C.
Winter/Spring winds generally decline during November to March and can change to a southerly flow, forcing kiters to move to the Kihei area on the south side of the island where the winds would be side or side-on-shore and blow from left to right. The ocean temperature during winter and spring averages 75 °F or 24 °C.