About Ma'alaea Bay

While not the swell magnet that fellow west coast harbor break Lahaina is, Ma'alaea is one of Maui's most famous waves. This is in part for the rifling, perfect right-hand tubes it creates on just the right South or SW swell; in another part for the decades-long fight to preserve Ma'alaea's existence as a world-class, albeit rare, surf spot. (Fortunately, in May of 2012, federal and state agencies ended the project that would have expanded a portion of the Ma'alaea Harbor and effectively destroyed the wave, thus ensuring Ma'alaea will remain a jewel in Hawaii's pantheon of incredible surf breaks.) Once considered the "fastest wave on earth," Ma'alaea has attracted brave barrel riders from within Maui and abroad for decades, thus the crowd can become as intense as the wave itself. Because of its size, the crowd, and the reef bottom, Ma'alaea is considered an expert-only spot, though there are more manageable peaks nearby during smaller South swells.

Source: Ma'alaea Bay Surf Guide

Ability Level

All Abilities

Beg Int Adv

Expert only when it's on, beginner-to-intermediate on smaller South swells.

Local Vibe


Welcoming Intimidating

Usually mellow, unless its firing.

Crowd Factor


Mellow Heavy

Intense when it's good, manageable when it's small

Spot Rating


Poor Perfect

One of the best waves on the island. One of the best summer waves in Hawaii when its on.

Shoulder Burn


Light Exhausting

Long rights, so the paddle back can be long. The paddle out can be long too depending on where you enter the water.

Water Quality


Clean Dirty

Pollution can be a problem due to the harbor, but usually OK.

Additional Information


Shallow reef. Harbor water is always suspect.


Easy. Right on the east side of the Ma'alaea Harbor.

Bring Your

Shortboard, funboard, longboard, fish, bodyboard, kiteboard



Best Season


Swell Consistency and Wind Overview

Photos & Videos