Maui Surf Report

Knowing the Maui Surf Report is vital to any type of surfing. Paddle boarding, body surfing, body-boarding, longboard surfing, shortboard surfing, canoe surfing, wave ski surfing, stand-up paddle surfing, and some of the ways to enjoy the breaking waves.  So accurately predicting where and when the waves will be good will help us to get the most from our sessions. For the current wind conditions and the surf report, you can call the closest surf school or shop. They will usually give you the actual local conditions. Before choosing a location to surf you should know the general surf forecast, and you should know the special conditions at the local area where you intend to surf. Water depth, tide height, rockiness, currents, and other water users (including marine life), must all factor into whether the spot will be a good choice. Take care when entering the water anywhere on Maui. Even if you only want to go wading, there could be more power in the waves than you anticipate. Keep in mind that not all areas on Maui are patrolled by lifeguards. So you will not have any rescue if you get into trouble. Also you should not venture out to a spot without checking with the locals for any unseen hazards. Take a surfing lesson from a professional instructor. They can show you how to negotiate the wave zone and help you avoid many of the common missteps that novice surfers make. There are also surf-guides that will show you where it is good to surf and how to navigate a new surf spot. For more information on waves go to our How waves are made page.

  1. Waves always look smaller than they really are when you are standing on the beach.
  2. Always surf with a buddy.
  3. Never go out in conditions more than you can handle.

 
Go to Swellinfo.com for free local Surf Forecasts, Surf Reports, Surf / Swell timelines, and more.

TIDE HEIGHTS: The tides are affected by the moon’s position, relative to the earth and sun. The earth’s rotation makes the tides move around the earth on a daily basis, which means that they will arrive at different locations at different times. The moon phase determines whether the tidal range will be big (spring tides) or small (neap tides). Springs occur at full moon and new moon, while neap tides occur at first quarter and last quarter moon phase. Every lunar month there are two sets of spring tides and two sets of neap tides. Tide predictions are made from decades of observed data, at given locations. The data is usually given in tide charts which help mariners to anticipate the rise and fall of the water level at their location. The tidal data observation point on Maui is located at the Kahului harbor. The tide times for other areas are given with corrections to the Kahului charts.

TIDAL RANGE: Hawaii has a small tidal range varying from 1.5 to 2.5 feet difference from low to high tide heights.

TIDAL FREQUENCY: There are two high tides and two low tides every lunar day (24 hrs 50mins). High tides and low tides are 6hrs12.5mins apart.

STORM SURGE: The predicted tidal heights are affected by low pressure “storm” systems that create less surface pressure, and cause higher than expected tides. During a hurricane there can be a large storm surge that can add up to twenty feet to the high tide level. This will of course be very destructive as the sea level rises above break-walls and sea walls causing the inundation (flooding) of the land.
SWELL CREATION: The waves we experience in Hawaii are the result of storms (lows) hundreds or thousands of miles away. The more intense the low, the stronger the winds and the more powerful waves that may be generated. The strong winds blow across the surface of the ocean (called a fetch), for several days generating waves that become swell. The swell travels along in the same direction as the wind that created them. Swells can travel great distances across the deep oceans without losing too much energy. Until they start to hit shallow water near the islands. When the swell hits shallow water it may cause the swell to turn towards shore in a process called refraction. Refraction will cause the swells to wrap around the islands and give a variety of waves.
SWELL DIRECTION: The direction from which the swell is coming is called the swell direction. It is expressed in degrees from North. 0 zero degrees is North, 90 (ninety) degrees is from the East, 180 degrees is a South Swell, and 270 degrees is a West swell. The swell direction affects the areas that the swell will hit. North facing shores will get the brunt of a Northerly swell. West facing shores will get the westerly swell etc. Other shores may get a wrap around wave but it will be less powerful than the direct wave.
SWELL EFFECTS: The factors that affect waves are many, the direction of the waves depends on the angle (vector) of the wind that created them, then also depends on “shadowing” behind neighboring islands, then refraction (bending/wrapping), and diffraction (spreading) around the islands due to changes in water depth. Swell height is calculated by the average height of the significant Swells in the sets. Some waves will be larger than the forecast height of the waves. Swell heights and wave interval gives important information to the overall power and quality of the resulting waves. The swells will be pushed up into much higher waves depending on the shape of the shoreline that causes them to break. A steep shelf/reef or shoreline will cause the wave to gain height quickly. A narrowing bay will also intensify the wave height and power and increase the amount of surge and wave run-up. 
SWELL SHADOWING: The neighboring islands may shield our shores from receiving the swell. If the swells path is blocked by another nearby island we are said to be in the swell shadow. Swell shadows also come from our own headlands and shield certain beaches from receiving certain swells. When Maui receives a northwest swell it can often be blocked by Molokai and even Oahu, North easterly swell is often smaller at Kanaha Beach than Ho’okipa because of swell shadowing from the west Maui mountains and Mokolea point near Kahakuloa.
 

SWELL FORECASTING: Surfers and meteorologists track the storms in the north Pacific and the south pacific, that may generate a significant swell. The larger storms that persist for the longest  will create the biggest waves. A good indication of the storm’s ability to create waves is the wind strengths in the storm. Waves will be generated parallel with the isobars surrounding the storm. When the isobars are closely packed there will be strong winds, and when they are pointing at the islands, there is a good chance that a swell will be heading our way. Surfers use the weather feature map to look at the storm systems that produce the swells. Then there are a network of offshore weather buoys that uplink motion data to satellites. These “Waverider Buoys” relay the information to us about the size (wave height) and duration (period) of the waves as they pass underneath the buoys. Watching the buoys will tell the surfer how the swell is progressing toward the island. There are also powerful computer wave models that extrapolate the data and tell the story of how the wave motion may be anticipated. Once the waves encounter the ocean floor close to the islands they will be affected by refraction, reflection, diffraction, and interference. The computer models can predict the behavior of the waves as the pass through the island chain. There are some graphs of the island swell shadow lines, to help the forecaster predict which swells will be caught at different locations on the island. There is a swell direction model that shows the predicted effect of the islands on the incoming swell.

 


WEATHER Yrly JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

WATER

76.17 75 74 74 75 76 76 79 77 76 79 77 76

AIR

83.70 80.0 80.0 81.0 82.0 83.7 85.5 86.3 87.1 87.4 86.2 83.6 81.0

 

SEASONAL WEATHER

January – One of the coolest months, cold fronts from the Northwest bring showery weather, with this month the wettest of the year. Clear and warm days prevail between these showery periods. Trade-winds blow only 42% of the time, compared with July’s 95%. One of the months to see snow on top of our 10.023 foot Haleakala which sometimes occurs. Large surf impacts the North and West shores. Sea water temperature averages about 75 degrees F. January averages for different locations on Maui Lahaina 82-64 F. (27.8C-17.8C) 3.49″ precipitation Hana 79-64 F. (26.1C-17.8C) 9.45″ precipitation, Kahului 80-64 F. (26.7C-17.8C) 4.14″ precipitation,  Kahului % of possible daytime sunshine: 69%.

February – One of the coolest months, with showery weather episodes mixed with warm, and sunny days. Light winds generally, but some of the strongest winds of the year reported in the winter month of February. Medium to large surf on North and West shores. Snow falls on Haleakala some years. Tradewinds blow on the average 55% of the time. Sea water temperature averages about 74 degrees F. February averages for different locations on Maui Lahaina 80-63 F. (26.7C-17.2C) 2.35″ of precipitation Hana 79-64 F. (26.1C-17.8C) 6.83″ of precipitation Kahului 80-63 F. (26.7C-17.2C) 2.87″ of precipitation, Kahului % of possible daytime sunshine: 73%.
March – Spring brings increasingly strong Northeast tradewinds, and more showers on the windward sides from Haiku to Hana, and on the upper West side from Napili to Kaanapali. Kihei and Lahaina are generally warm and sunny. Winter storms lose their influence on Maui later in the month. Tradewinds blow on the average 61% of the time. Surf still up frequently on the North and West shores. Sea water temperature averages about 74 degrees F. March averages for different locations on Maui Lahaina 83-64 F. (28.3C-17.8C) 1.79″ of precipitation Hana 79-65 F. (26.1C-18.3C) 9.54″ of precipitation, Kahului 81-65 F. (27.2C-18.3C) 2.72″ of precipitation Kahului % of possible daytime sunshine: 72%.
April – Spring weather pattern has become well established, very few winter type storms ever occur this month. Tradewinds are usually quite strong on the windward sides, and frequently carry moisture in the form of cloudiness and showers with them. Lots of sunshine in the leeward areas. Mild weather prevails from the second half of this month through October. Tradewinds blow on the average 74% of the time. Sea water temperature averages about 75 degrees F. April averages for different locations on Maui Lahaina 84-65 F. (28.9C-18.3C) 1.05″ of precipitation Hana 80-67 F. (26.7C-19.4C) 8.95″ of precipitation Kahului 82-66 F. (27.8C-18.9C) 1.84″ of precipitation, Kahului % of possible daytime sunshine: 56%.
May – Summer starts early on Maui, and May is getting quite warm. The tradewinds are blowing most of the time on the windward sides, but carry less clouds and showers then in April. Winter storms are completely absent .leeward sides are summer-like. Tradewinds blow on the average 86% of the time. Sea water temperature averages about 76 degrees F. (25.6C). May averages for different locations on Maui Lahaina 85-67 F. (28.9C-18.3C) 1.05″ of precipitation Hana 80-68 F. (26.7C-19.4C) 8.95″ of precipitation Kahului 84-67 F. (27.8C-18.9C) .62″ of precipitation, Kahului % of possible daytime sunshine: 58%.
June – Summer is here, with warm and sunny days. June is the driest month of the year. Tradewinds blow almost everyday. The hurricane season begins this month, but rarely will a tropical system come close to Maui in June. Tradewinds blow on the average 91% of the time. Sea water temperature averages about 77 degrees F. June averages for different locations on Maui Lahaina 87-68 F. (30.6C-20.0C) .09″ of precipitation Hana 83-69 F. (28.3C-20.6C) 3.85″ of precipitation Kahului 86-69 F. (30.0C-20.6C) .27″ of precipitation, Kahului % of possible daytime sunshine: 79%.
July – Summer fully engaged weather-wise, with warm to very warm temperatures. Fortunately the tradewinds temper the summer-time heat. These cooling and refreshing winds keep Maui feeling comfortable during the long warm summer months. Very infrequently a tropical storm may move close to the area giving sticky weather and showers. Summer is when Maui sees small -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 where winter storms “down under” send waves 1000’s of miles to arrive here as South swell. Tradewinds are blowing on the average 95% of the time. Sea water temperature averages about 78 degrees F. July averages for different locations on Maui Lahaina 88-69 F. (31.1C-20.6C) .17″ of precipitation Hana 88-70 F. (28.3C-21.1C) 5.60″ of precipitation, Kahului 87-71 F. (30.6C-21.7C) .38″ of precipitation Kahului % of possible daytime sunshine: 69%.
August – Warm, sunny to partly cloudy days are the rule for August. Tradewinds are still fanning the island with great regularity. Occasionally a tropical storm or Hurricane will get close enough to Maui to cause our winds to stop and the humidity to rise to uncomfortable levels, though it is unusual. Small-medium size waves continue to be at times a problem in that, the South shores, where these waves impact, are the same beaches that the visitors (who often are not used to waves of any size) are at play and sunbathing. Persons should be careful during these periodic high surf events. Tradewinds are blowing on the average 94% of the time. Sea water temperature averages about 79 degrees F. August averages for different locations on Maui Lahaina 88-69 F. (31.1C-20.6C) .18″ of precipitation Hana 84-71 F. (28.9C-21.7C) 5.62″ of precipitation Kahului 88-71 F. (31.1C-21.7C) .49″ of precipitation, Kahului % of possible daytime sunshine: 73%.
September – The weather continues to be very warm, the height of summer here in the tropics. Some of the highest temperature readings of the season occur in this month. Tropical Storms and Hurricanes rarely enter Hawaiian waters, but this is the month when they come the closest and are more apt to affect the weather on Maui. Normally they stay far away, but when they get close enough to the island, they make the residents uncomfortable with the muggy atmosphere they produce. Hurricane Iniki entered into the adjacent waters, and impacted the island of Kauai in September of 1992. Tradewinds blow on the average 83% of the time. Sea water temperature averages about 80 degrees F. September averages for different locations on Maui Lahaina 89-70 F. (31.7C-21.1C) .34″ of precipitation Hana 84-70 F. (28.9C-21.1C) 5.38″ of precipitation Kahului 88-70 F. (31.1C-21.1C) .35″ of precipitation, Kahului % of possible daytime sunshine: 62%.
October – This is the month that temperatures begin moderating from summers high heat a little! Tradewinds also begin to fade from the island weather scene. In some years, Maui begins to see the first winter-like storms that are far out to sea in the North Pacific they sometimes can produce the first large waves of the season. Occasionally one of these early winter storms will send a weak cold front through the islands, which can cause a few showers. This month is still mild and dry. Tradewinds are blowing on the average 71% of the time. Sea water temperature averages about 79 degrees F. October averages for different locations on Maui Lahaina 88-69 F. (31.7C-20.6C) 1.09″ of precipitation Hana 83-70 F. (28.9C-21.1C) 7.02″ of precipitation, Kahului 87-69 F. (30.6C-20.6C) 1.23″ of precipitation Kahului % of possible daytime sunshine: 60%.
November – Generally a transition month between summer and winter, with weather of both seasons common. The first real winter storms to the North and NW send down a cold front or two, with some showery spells, especially after the middle of the month. Winter storms also more regularly send large waves onto the North and West shores. Temperatures begin to dip noticeably (before you start packing your down jackets .please realize that when I say “dip down”, I mean from the high 80’s down to the middle 80’s!  November in some years begins the rainy season. Tradewinds are blowing on the average 64% of the time. Sea water temperature averages about 77 degrees F. November averages for different locations on Maui Lahaina 86-67 F. (30.0C-19.4C) 2.15″ of precipitation Hana 81-68 F. (27.2C-20.0C) 8.67″ of precipitation Kahului 84-68 F. (28.9C-20.0C) 2.59″ of precipitation, Kahului % of possible daytime sunshine: 67%.
December – A winter month on Maui, with fairly frequent cold fronts sweeping over the island, bringing showery periods, with sometimes gusty winds. Still, December has its fair share of warm and balmy days as well! Medium to large surf is very common on the North and West shores of the island. One of the wettest months of the year, with some rainy days .although the areas around Kihei and Lahaina on the leeward sides of the island see less moisture than do the wetter windward sections in general. Tradewinds are blowing on the average 57% of the time. Sea water temperature averages about 76 degrees F. December averages for different locations on Maui Lahaina 83-65 F. (28.3C-18.3C) 3.20″ of precipitation Hana 79-66 F. (26.1C-18.9C) 6.05″ of precipitation, Kahului 81-66 F. (27.2C-18.9C) 3.27″ of precipitation Kahului % of possible daytime sunshine: 58%.

Source: Maui Weather Today

SIGNIFICANT WEATHER DATA

Wave Direction: The wave direction shows the direction from where the waves are coming from. Usually expressed as degrees from north, North is 0 degrees. northeast is 45 degrees. Wave direction is significant when forecasting because swell can become blocked by a neighboring island. Swell direction can tell you which part of the island the waves will hit.
Wave angles: Waves will turn toward shore when they get to shallow water. The process is called refraction. Waves will wrap around the islands, and headlands too. Waves that break at an angle to shore can produce a longer ride. Cross-shore waves may also produce strong long-shore currents too.
Significant Wave Height: The significant wave height is the average of the highest 33% of the waves. This gives an indication of the general waves size, however individual waves may be far larger than the average, and may be up to two times higher than the significant wave height.
Wave Period: the wave period is the time it takes for two wave peaks to pass a fixed point. The longer periods indicate a larger more powerful swell with a greater potential to produce larger waves. Wave periods usually range from 2 to 20 seconds. Extremely large surf can be 30 to 40 seconds between waves. Tsunami waves sometimes have extremely long wave intervals of 5 to 15 minutes.
Tides and Waves: Tides will affect waves. Lower tides will bring the reef and seafloor closer to the surface. This will make the waves break earlier at a given location. Shallow water can make the waves get steeper and more hollow. Generally higher tides will create fuller waves. At very high tides some breaks will become swamped and un-ridable. Some very low tides will expose the reef and make surfing dangerous. The specific effect on your local break is best observed over time. In Hawaii there is a small tidal variation, of a few feet between high and low tides. Hawaii has a diurnal tide, with two highs and two low tides per day.
Moon Phase and Tides: The Moons gravity creates the tides. The sun has a lesser effect on the tide. The high tide moves across the earth as the earth rotates. When the sun and moon are aligned the combined gravitational force causes a higher than normal high tide, and a lower than normal low tide. These are called Spring Tides. There are two spring tides per month. Spring tides occur during the full moon phase and new moon phase. When the moon and sun are quartering the earth their gravitational forces are competing for the tide. This causes the high tides to be lower, and the low tides to be higher. The tidal differences between high and low tides and less. This is called Neap Tides. Neap Tides happen twice a month at the first quarter and 3rd quarter moon phase. 

SURFING ON MAUI

Surfing on Maui: Maui is one of the lesser known Hawaiian surfing locations. Because Maui is nested among several other islands much of the swell can be blocked by the surrounding islands. The other factor is Maui’s legendary wind. Great for windsurfing, but bad news for surfing. Most beginner surfing is on the south west shores. Surfers usually go out early to take advantage of the light morning winds. There are a few breaks near 1000 peaks to Lahaina that stay in a wind shadow during the afternoon. In summer the southerly swell brings fun longboarding waves to the south shores. In summer the north west swells bring larger waves to the north shore.
Reef Breaks: Most of Maui’s waves are reef break and can get gnarly at low tides. Some breaks can only be accessed from the rocks, so watch out for sharp rocks, coral and sea urchins. The north shore can get bumpy so we usually ride slightly longer boards than at other islands to overcome the resistance. Maui’s water is warm and even in winter you may only need a shortie. Some of the most popular breaks can get crowded so check out a few spots before deciding to paddle out.
Avoiding Crowds: Often it is better to go out at less crowded spot with slightly less perfect surf. This way you will catch more waves and catch less stink eye from the other surfers. Always respect other surfers, don’t hog all the waves and don’t drop in. Maui’s surf is enjoyed by all types of surf riders, shortboarders, longboarders, canoes, bodyboarders, some body surfers, and standup paddle surfers, and the occasional wave-ski rider.
Sharing Waves: Some breaks will be better suited to certain types of surfer. Some breaks will cater to several types of surfer. It is important to respect the other types of surfcraft, Standup Surfers have come under some criticism recently because of their ability to catch unbroken waves. Some standup riders have been hogging all the waves and have made it almost virtually impossible for longboarders to get any waves. Longboarders need a steeper wave to take off on, longboarders and wave skis, can take off earlier than shortboarders, and shortboarders can take off earlier than bodyboarders. It is “pono” to share the waves. (Pono = means doing the right thing). If you are unsure of the surfing rules go to the Surfing101 Page.
 

 Surfline Surf Reports
 

 

 


North West Wave Height
Animated wave height projections for the Pacific

North West Wave Period
Animated wave period projections for the Pacific


Hawaiian Winds
Animated wind forecast for Hawaii

 

Big Blue
Large satellite image of the Pacific

South West Wave Height
Animated wave period projections for the Pacific

South West Wave Period
Animated wave period projections for the Pacific

Hawaiian Islands
Latest Buoy Data
Maui Tide Table
Daily Tide graph from Kahului Harbor Maui.

Hawaiian Islands IR
Enhanced Infrared Satellite Image

WAVES & SURF

Ocean Waves Formation: Ocean waves are usually formed by a distant wind. Usually storms generate strong winds that act on the ocean’s surface for several days. The strength of the wind, and the duration it blows have a factor on how the resulting waves will be. The area which the wind affects the surface is called the fetch. The larger the fetch, the greater the waves produced. the small waves generated by storm winds are often confused and disorganized. These waves that come from a storm are called a “sea”. The sea travels in the direction that the wind was blowing. After some distance the waves become more uniform in a process called interference and assimilation. Smaller waves are eaten by larger waves, and some waves will cancel each other out. The organized waves are then called a swell, and they travel across the ocean in a wave train. The wave train transmits wave energy through the water, But not much water itself is moved forward. The swells lie low and wide in an undulating rhythm, and they do not create much resistance as they move. This wave energy can travel across the ocean for hundreds or thousands of miles. Swell height and wave length are measured from a series of wave rider buoys. the height is an average of the larger waves in the series. The wave length when measured in time called the wave period. The time in-between two wave crests is its period. Long wave periods mean that the waves have more power stored in them.  The longer the wave period usually means that the resulting waves will be larger. Swell travels across the surface of the ocean to a depth of about half the wave height. Waves become arranged into sets. Sets are groups of waves with a pattern. Usually sets consist of some smaller waves followed by some larger ones.


Wave Formation Diagram www.actionsportsmaui.com

Excerpt from The Safe Surfing handbook by David Dorn

For more info go to the How ocean waves are made. Surf information page.


www.mauiweathertoday.com Local meteorologist Glenn James gives his weather interpretations for the Hawaiian Islands, with specific info on surf conditions and windsurfing conditions.

Hawaii Weather Today
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DISCLAIMER: The user assumes the entire risk related to its use of this data.  This data is provided “as is,” and the author disclaims any and all warranties, whether expressed or implied, including (without limitation) any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. In no event will the author be liable to you or to any third party for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, special or exemplary damages or lost profit resulting from any use or misuse of this data. Observations are reported from various other sources including the National Weather Service (NWS), National Ocean Data Buoy Center (NODC) and numerous additional institutions.