Surf’s Up in Maui

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Surfing 1
We’re in Maui this week, staying at the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas, on a long-overdue family vacation. On arrival, Alex picked up just about every brochure the concierge had to offer. He promptly decided that he wanted to try surfing, parasailing, ziplining, and extreme hula. He was disappointed to learn that: a) his parents are not made of money; and b) are old fogies who like to just lounge around on the beach with rum drinks in hand.  He was also disappointed to learn that he had to have a parent with him if he wanted to plunge to his death on the jungle floor on a zipline or into the depths of the Pacific from a parasail. It’s hard out there for a kid.

After much pressure of the sulking variety, we opted for surfing lessons.  The concierge cheerfully arranged for the lessons with a local shop called Outrageous Surf on Front Street in Lahaina at a discounted price. Alex agreed not to mention the words “parasailing” or “zipling” again for at least fifteen minutes after the lesson. We had a deal.

We arrived as instructed at 10:30 am for an 11:00 lesson, forgetting that nobody is ever on time for anything in the entire state of Hawaii.  Slowly, other intrepid surf-bum wannabes trickled in, including an Italian family who informed the shop manager that their combined surfing skills were “less than level 0.”

The shop manager assured them that they could teach anyone, which got a big eyeroll from Alex, who said, “I think I’m going to be the only person who ever surfed before in this class,” and yawned.  By “surfed before” he meant the one time in Kauai when he managed to stand up once and declared himself ready for the Mavericks competition.

Maui Pink Umbrellas
The shopped filled up quickly around 11:00, and Frank and I were shooed out and given beach chairs to hang out on the beach to wait for the surfers to arrive.  The shop had a small truck that they loaded surf boards onto while the students watched a safety video.  Frank and I decided to have a snack at Maui Swiss Cafe, a small ice cream and pastry shop next door with pink umbrellas.  Who knew that you could get homemade crepes in Maui? Not us, that’s for sure. We ate some freshly baked mango and banana bread, then strolled down to the beach to watch the surfers.

Surfing 6

We moseyed along the the marina and then onto the beach to try to find Alex amid about a hundred or more novice surfers and surf instructors about thirty yards off shore and heading inland.  The waves were gentle, but enough for the surfers to learn to stand.  The problem was that there were so many of them that they kept bumping into each other before being felled by the wave. We watched quite a few near-misses, but could not see Alex anywhere in the crowd.

Quite a few of them were just standing around in waist-high water, trying to navigate their way through the traffic to find a spot to mount their boards.  I thought they needed metering lights, like the on-ramps to Highway 101 during rush hour.  Despite the traffic, the surfer seemed pretty congenial and most waited patiently for their turns.

Surfing 7
After about a half hour of waiting and searching the horizon with my telephoto lens, I finally spotted Alex’s group paddling along the shoreline towards us. They aligned with the rest of the surfers and two at a time, the instructor launched them towards the shore.  It took quite a while for Alex’s turn to come up, and I held my breath as he raised to one knee.  He managed to get up and stand on the first try, and seemed quite pleased with himself.

In spite of the crowd and one minor collision, Alex managed to get up and surf in about seven times during the two hour lesson.  He’s not exactly ready for Mavericks, but he had fun and was raring to go again.

Surfing 5
I thought the folks at Outrageous Surf did a terrific job of coaching and directing traffic. Alex liked it so much we decided to go back for a second lesson two days later.  Even the Italian family were all smiles when the lesson was over, and no longer “less than 0” surfers.

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