Hawaii Paddle Guide

by Mike Wang
Hawaii Paddle Guide

Hawaii Paddle Guide

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Tired of the cold? Want to visit Hawaii and add a paddle to your trip? You can either bring your own inflatable or rent a board locally. Either way, it's easy to find destinations that are suitable for beginners. Depending on the swell or wind conditions on the ocean and where you go, there can be a lot of variety in terms of paddling difficulty. But we have selected 1-2 locations for each Hawaiian islands so you'll always find some place to paddle.

GENERAL GUIDE

For beginners, a river is always a great way to start. The rivers are usually near the coast, flat, with some current. Rivers are usually full of wild life mainly shore birds and sea birds and you might find a turtle or two.

If you want to go to the ocean, there are usually three things you have to check:

1. What's the swell and wave height on the ocean? Check www.surfline.com for local spots.

Hawaii has one of the most dynamic ocean swell conditions in the world because it's in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and get swells from South America/Anartica, North America/Alaska, and East Asia. There's always surf somewhere in Hawaii anytime of the year! But generally you can expect the southern part of an island having more swell in the summer time and the northern part of an island having more swell in the winter time. For example: for the island of Oahu, Honolulu and nearby area is relatively calm in the winter and North Shore (known for its big waves) is more calm in the summer.

2. What's the wind like on the ocean? Check www.windy.com for local spots.

Wind is always a challenge in the islands. Similar to swells, wind have patterns too. Generally mornings are calm and afternoons are windy, so get your paddle done early in the day. Each island also has a windward side (more windy) and a leeward side (less windy) because of the big mountains or volcanos blocking the wind. For example, in Oahu, the North Shore is the windward side and South Shore/West Shore is the leeward side. Makaha, which is the most western town on Oahu rarely gets any rain!

3. Reef or Sand?

This is mostly local knowledge, if there's a lot of reef in the area be careful with paddling in shallow areas because falling onto reef can be dangerous and painful. Sand beaches are much easier to put in. 

Oahu

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South Shore - Waikiki

No matter how touristy Waikiki can be, it is the birthplace of modern surfing. But on calm days, it's one of the most picturesque spots to paddle in the world. If you can muster through small waves by the sandy beaches, you can paddle along the city waterfront with relative ease. There are multiple surf shops and beach rentals that rent both inflatable and hard boards.

For one of the best board rental shops in all of Hawaii,  check out https://www.hoeheenaluboardriders.com/ Their boards are top notch and the SUP Surf boards are amazing!

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North Shore - Hale'iwa, Anahulu River and Rainbow Bridge

Known for its pumping surf, North Shore has plenty of surf spots. But there's a littel calm paradise near Rainbow Bridge that's perfect for beginners. The Anahulu river originates from the Koolau Ridge on the westside of the mountian and flows 7 miles before the ocean. The last couple of miles is calm and beautiful. 

Check out www.blueplanetsup.com for rental reservations and more information on the paddle. 

Maui

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Best areas for beginners in Maui is the west side (from Nipili all the way down to Wailea). It is the leeward side of the island and generally protected from the wind and big swells. Kihei is one of the better spots to try as a beginner.

Check out https://www.mauisupadventures.com/

Kauai

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Wailua River

Wailua is situated on the east side of the island with lots of amenities around. The Wailua river tour up to Sacred Falls is one of the flat water paddle in Hawaii! You can either rent a board from one of the local companies or take a kayak tour (highly recommended) because the mouth of the river upstream and back could take a 4-5 hours. 

Check out https://wailuariverkayaking.com/

Hanalei River

Getting to Hanalei and nearby areas can feel like you're at the end of the world. The Hanalei River is windy and beautiful near Princeville. A few miles of paddle upstream is a definite venture into the wild.

Check out www.kayakhanalei.com for more info.

Hawaii (Big Island)

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The big island is BIG! Most companies will rent boards out of their shops or deliver them to you so you can make the best out of your trip. The big island is most populated on either the Kona side or the Hilo side. 

Kona Side

There are lots of places to rent and paddle near Kona but somehow Kona is always windy even in the morning. If you're staying on the Kona side, drive a bit north of the airpot and paddle between Kawaihei and Anaehoomalu Beach. It's one of the most scenic sections of the west side.

Check out https://www.hulakai.com/

Hilo Side

Right in front of Hilo (the "city"), there are some beautiful small islands and banyan trees. Hilo Bay and the Coconut Island are not to be missed, paddling here can be sublime!

Check out https://www.hilooceanadventures.com/kayak-sup/hilo-bay-coconut-island-sup-adventure/

Need an Inflatable Board for your Adventure? We have plenty to choose from.

Okeanos Air Glide Inflatable SUP Package leash, SUP fin, inflatable SUP pump, air-glide SUP inflatable board bag
2021 SIC Maui Okeanos Air-Glide Inflatable SUP stand up paddle board Cross Section
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Starboard Touring Inflatable Paddle Board
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