Kiva Rivers (yes, that’s really him in the picture) has been surfing Hawaii’s waves since he was nine years old. Since then, he’s gained a legendary status in the water sports world both for his incredible skill and his teaching tactics that cater to all levels of surfers. Those who need a hand riding Maui’s waves—from celebrities such as Clint Eastwood and Vanessa Hudgens, to youngsters and surfers of the silver-haired variety—call on Kiva at Rivers to the Surf to get his much sought-after expertise.
Want to give surfing a whirl on your next trip to Maui? Get your feet wet with part one of our new series. The transition from sand to sea has never been this easy (onlookers won’t even know you’re a newbie).
“The ideal board size range for beginner surfers is 9-11ft. It offers more stability for paddling out to the waves, and it makes standing up on the board much easier because you have a greater volume of support under your body. I recommend soft top surfboards—these have padded decks that make paddling on your chest more comfortable.”
“Try to protect as much of your body as you can – you don’t want to get a rash from the board or get sunburnt. A long sleeve shirt and board shorts that reach your knees should do the trick. The Honolua Surf Company stores will have everything you need.”
Check the wave
“The best size waves to start on are in the 1-2ft range, with only light winds. Winds are generally the lightest early in the day or late in the afternoon. Don’t try to learn how to surf in beach break waves, the drop-in is too steep for beginners. A small, gentle, long breaking wave that ideally breaks in front of a sandy beach is best. You’ll find these waves on the south side of Maui: Ukumahame Beach, Guard Rails Beach or Launiupoko Beach.”
Channeling your surf
“Use the channel when you’re finished riding the wave. The channel is where the water is deeper around the breaking waves. Waves don’t break in the channel, so think of it like getting onto the sidewalk to paddle out for your next wave. It’s better than trying to paddle back through the surf break where waves keep breaking, making it much harder to get out.”
“When you’re ready to stand up, be sure to keep your eyes up, and your knees bent nice and low. You’re going to surf in the direction that you’re looking—so by keeping your eyes up, you’re increasing your chance of staying up. Keeping your knees bent down low improves balance.”
When in doubt, don’t paddle out
“Take the time to talk to local surfers or to the County Lifeguards before you paddle out to the ocean. In Maui, these people are the best resources for how to stay safe while riding waves.”
Thanks Kiva! We’re off to wax our surfboards. Keep an eye out for part two in the series next month.
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