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I have a goal. Someday, at some point in my life, I am going to head somewhere with great waves, rent a shack for a month or two, and surf every single day. At the end of the month I hope to emerge a decent enough surfer that along my travels, I can confidently rent a board for a day that combines two of my favorite things to do: being active and being in the water.

That day has not yet come. Thus far the ratio of times I’ve gone surfing to times I’ve sat on the beach and watched forlornly as others paddle out is about one to one billion. So when I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon taking a lesson with and some of my #seeMaui team, I literally could not slap my rashguard on fast enough. (Which okay, isn’t actually that fast. Have you ever tried one of those things on? They are tight.)

Thus far my trip to Maui had been surprisingly un-aquatic, and I beamed happiness when we pulled up at the beach and plopped down for a theory lesson. My one and only previous surf lesson had been on the neighboring isle of Maui a year and a half ago, so I was definitely reader for a refresher.

Our two instructors Lucy and Kelly lived to the level of cool instilled in me regarding female surfers. My girl crush was officially cemented when, while describing why we don’t stand up out on the water, Lucy assured us that “there might be coral, and if you step on that coral it will not be stoked.”

I admit that I occasionally had trouble concentrating on the briefing, but I don’t think I can really be held responsible for that because ADORABLE WAVE CHASING DOG ALERT! See what I mean? How can anyone concentrate when this much cuteness is taking place? Luna is a big part of the Maui Surfer Girl family.

After practicing a few pop ups on the beach — where you go through the motions of popping into standing position on dry land to build muscle memory — it was time to ride. As we waded out, I confessed to Lucy my dream of really learning to surf someday, and her response was that all it really takes is dedication — and not wussing out on the paddling out part. Of course we were having this conversation just as my arm muscles were beginning to deteriorate into tissue paper and others in the group were taking advantage of tow-assisted paddling from the instructors. Not wanting to reveal my inner whiner quite so quickly, I responded enthusiastically that I absolutely loved upper arm workouts while silently weeping inside.

Guys. The arm burn is real!

What got me through was staring back at those West Maui mountains. Man, if there is a more scenic surf spot on this Earth please tell me. These following photos, courtesy of Chris at , really sum up the beauty that was fueling me out on the board.

Because our timing wasn’t ideal — mornings are much calmer and better for beginners, Lucy explained — we spent a lot of time paddling against the current, which left us pretty exhausted. But I’m proud to say I was one of the last ones out of the water, catching every wave I could despite somewhat limited success.

I love these photos my girl Tawny caught from the beach on my final ride, but I highly recommend going for the upgrade to have a professional photographer attend your lesson like I did for my first lesson on Oahu. It’s $40 and they even throw in beach portraits too. Believe me, when you catch that wave, you’re going to want to commemorate the moment in the most sacred way possible — making it your Facebook profile picture.

When I finally paddled in I felt exhausted — and exhilarated. There is nothing like being out on the water, pushing your body to its limits, feeling connected to the sea, and staring out at beautiful mountains ahead. Oh, and being cheered on by an adorable surfing dog. That too.

I’m still looking forward to that month or two someday dedicated to nothing but waves. I’m still not sure when it will be or when it will take place, but I do know one thing for sure — Maui just made it to the short list.

Where would you head to learn to surf?

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Many thanks to the Maui Visitors Bureau and to Maui Surfer Girls for hosting me and showing me so much aloha. As always, you receive my honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.

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65 Comments...
  • Janice Stringer
    July 18 2014

    I am so jealous. I learnt to surf at Byron Bay in Australia. Fabulous. We met a guy in his 70’s who had only learnt to surf in his sixties. I was absolutely useless and had the most amazing and exhilarating time. Catching that wave is so cool…..
    Janice Stringer recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      That’s amazing! I hope I get around to it before my sixties but if I don’t that’s a nice inspirational story šŸ™‚

  • Amanda
    July 18 2014

    I’ve been trying to find a place where my friend and I can learn to surf when we head to the Banana Bungalow in Maui next month. We may have to check these girls out, thanks!
    Amanda recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      Enjoy, Amanda! You are going to have so much fun in Maui!

  • Ashley
    July 18 2014

    Looks like a beautiful surfing spot! I took a surf lesson in Australia and loved it! (Even though I felt like I had been hit by a bus afterwards).
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      It is crazy what a workout it is! You don’t really expect it when you just see people chilling on their boards…. they make it look so effortless!

  • Maddy
    July 18 2014

    This looks so fun! Another thing I need to do in Hawaii! Ok, not sure I have much else to say beyond that. It IS Friday after all. šŸ˜‰
    Maddy recently posted..

  • Oh, I so wanted to learn how to surf in the Philippines, but Glenda got in the way of that. Maybe Bali next month if the waves are good!

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      Bali would be pretty badass! It’s high on my own list for future surf spots šŸ˜‰

  • I’ve tried surfing so many times and this last time it definitely ended in tears (granted, it was cold, raining,and it was a rocky, not sandy beach)! I’m not giving up on it either, but agreed – that arm burn is real. #wavespiration.
    Emily from Let’s Roam Wild recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      Yeah, Anders did a bit of surfing in Peru and Ecuador… I felt that water and was like NAH THANKS. I need warm water and some serious sun on my back to me motivated to get out there!

  • Katie
    July 18 2014

    So, I’ve never surfed… but I kinda know that I would be terrible at it. haha! I’m uncoordinated and I think I’m the least graceful person I know – I’m not sure I would hire a professional photographer just because I wouldn’t want commemoration of my ungracefulness. However – $40 for a day seems pretty affordable IMO!
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      Yeah, that was actually the same price for the photos on my surf lesson in Oahu so perhaps it is industry standard. Compared to what I paid for photos of skydiving, it’s a bargain!

  • I’ve never tried, but I’m terrified to surf. I’m not very good with balance! One day I’ll have to try!

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      I have horrible balance as well but I do agree after taking a few lessons the hardest part is finding the determination to go out again and again. And the arm strength!

  • becky hutner
    July 18 2014

    GASP @ the West Maui Mountains. Holy wow, Meihoukai — if I end up here in December, it is totally ‘cuz of you.
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      DO IT DO IT DO IT! (I’ve said that before, haven’t I?)

  • Justine
    July 18 2014

    I’ve surfed a couple times. Terribly, I might add. But if I were to choose a place to rent a shack and really learn I would probably go to Siargao, Philippines. I didn’t make it there during my trip to the Philippines last year, but I hear it’s paradise and a prime surfing spot! Your pictures are great. The water and scenery are so beautiful! And I really love Luna!! Coolest dog EVER šŸ™‚
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      I’ve heard GREAT things about Siargao and have a friend who spends quite a bit of time there every year. But I’ve also heard they don’t have wifi, which makes it pretty much a no go for me šŸ™

  • Shaun
    July 18 2014

    Great goal! I’ve only surfed once but would really like to get out there again. Luna looks amazing, so happy to be out on the board.

    Amazing picture at the bottom too.
    Shaun recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      I have learned that it is REALLY hard to take a bad picture in Maui. It’s just too good looking.

  • Erika
    July 18 2014

    Oh man, I have been wanting to learn to surf so badly recently, but now I think I’m going to have to hold out to learn in Hawaii. Gorgeous.
    Erika recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      Or learn before you go so you can be a rockstar once you arrive šŸ™‚ Either way would be pretty great.

  • Nadia
    July 18 2014

    I must admit that I have these same dreams. Yet to be realized… thought about attacking it in panama but the beach called my name!

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      Bocas would be the perfect surf destination…. except for the location of the surf, ha. I don’t like the idea of having to take a boat to the waves every morning. But in terms of atmosphere, price, etc. it hit all the other marks!

  • Charlotte
    July 18 2014

    I’m about to start my first round the world journey and surfing is definitely one of my goals. I’ve never tried it and this post was helpful to read, so thanks for sharing. I hope you keep practicing and if you have any SE Asia surfing location recs, I’d love to hear them. Cheers!

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      Unfortunately the two places I’ve stayed long term in Southeast Asia — Koh Tao and Gili Trawangan — were pretty much dead flat. I’m still searching for that perfect beginner’s destination!

  • Kristen Noelle
    July 18 2014

    Nice riiide! Not too shabby at all. Now that I live in Cali I wanna go down to Laguna and get a beginner surfing lesson, I figure that should be a good place to start! Then I can head down to Hawaii too for the real deal =)
    Kristen Noelle recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      Sounds like the perfect plan, Kristen! Good luck!

  • I would love to learn to surf in Hawaii! I have only tried once – when I was in Waikiki – and it wasn’t very successful. I didn’t catch any waves then I started feeling seasick so I had to head in haha. Hopefully I will be more successful next time I try šŸ™‚
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 19 2014

      I’ve gotten seasick when doing SUP in the ocean. Not a fun feeling!

  • I always thought if I lived on a beach I’d surf and stand up paddle board all the time- sadly, the ocean isn’t right for either here. Can’t scuba either because no visibility. Such a shame! Loved your pics though and good job catching the wave!! Ben used to live in Morocco and had a surf school there with friends, I’ll have to show him this post.
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 20 2014

      Rachel, I hope this doesn’t creep you out but you were in my dream last night! I was in India, and of course you were there! Ha! I woke up and told Anders I had a dream about one of my online friends I never met and he rolled his eyes at me.

      • lol! I think it’s a sign for where you next trip will be after Europe!
        Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..

  • Corinne
    July 19 2014

    Meihoukai, You are so adventurous…I’m a chicken! I don’t think I’ll ever try surfing…but I would love to photograph it!
    Corinne recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 20 2014

      You should push yourself if you’re interested, it’s fun! šŸ™‚ Or if not, there’s certainly nothing wrong with enjoying from the shore!

  • Camels & Chocolate
    July 19 2014

    Holy crap, those views! Also, how did Chris and Tawny manage to use the GoPro (assumedly) with no water spots? I always inevitably have a few drops when I’m using it above the water.

    Need I even mention that I adore Luna? Goes without saying.
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 20 2014

      I think I might have photoshopped out a spot or two? Or maybe not… but I definitely do that occasionally for myself šŸ™‚ You can also try spitting on the lens like you would with a mask — it works!

  • Maria from Nerd Nomads
    July 20 2014

    I must admit I have the same dream as you, to be really good at surfing one day. I have tried it in California, Australia and Bali, but have never been at one good surf spot long enough to be really good at surfing. Now we have started to learn Kite surfing, which is great fun. Love your photos! This place looks perfect for beginner surfers!
    Maria from Nerd Nomads recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 20 2014

      Kite surfing is another one on my list! I think about heading back to Vietnam or the Philippines for a month to give it a real go šŸ™‚ Looks like so much fun!

  • Gemma
    July 20 2014

    Wow,your photo’s look amazing! I’d love to give it a go, and went to a few surf beaches in Central America, but I’ve so far always wussed out, after just paddling in the rough sea. I watched a few surfers going for it though, which was cool, but the waves were huge! I was starting to think that maybe it wouldn’t happen, but the waves you surfed looked smaller (and way less scary) so I will definitely give it a go!

    Gemma
    Gemma recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 21 2014

      These were definitely baby waves šŸ™‚ I think Central America might be the someday spot where I finally learn for real! I just love it there and there are so many great surfing gems.

  • Tim
    July 20 2014

    Read this post while listening to Amber by 311 … perfect pairing. Maui is an ideal place, but Bali is pretty sweet too, and totally affordable!
    Tim recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 21 2014

      Love that song, Tim! Great choice šŸ™‚

  • Meihoukaiis Kensey
    July 20 2014

    Woah this makes me incredibly jealous! Just spent the last hour researching surf camps after reading this – haha. I really want to learn and this looks incredible! Hopefully you keep it up in the future.

    • Meihoukai
      July 21 2014

      That sounds like an hour very well spent! I need to do the same sometime soon!

  • Diane
    July 20 2014

    Never tried surfing or paddle boarding but I think I should. I think it’s time to head out to Hawaii. Cool post, gave me a bad case of wanderlust!
    Diane recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 21 2014

      Paddleboarding is my absolute favorite! I think there is much less of a learning curve than there is with surfing, so you can really enjoy yourself right away. Definitely give one or both a try sometime!

  • Stef
    July 20 2014

    haha great post. I have the same goal as you do. Surfing is so much fun, if you are on the board. I did one lesson in Byron Bay in Australia about two years ago. It was so exhausting but I enjoyed it, except the millions of times I got the board banged on my head šŸ˜‰ The hardest part for me was actually to get behind the waves to start surfing.
    Stef recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 21 2014

      Ouch! I’ve actually never had that happen in my attempts, but perhaps the waves are a bit rougher in Oz. The thing that would make me really nervous about surfing there would be sharks, though I suppose Hawaii has them in spades as well.

  • Rekha Devarapalli
    July 21 2014

    Hey Meihoukai,

    Glad to read your Maui posts. Appreciate your suggestion on having a professional photographer click the surfing photos. Saw your last visit’s pics and I can see the difference. Looking forward to the rest of the posts.

    Aloha,
    Rekha
    Rekha Devarapalli recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 21 2014

      Yeah, I just don’t have the kind of lens on my camera needed to really capture the essence! Still lots more Maui coming up šŸ™‚

  • Amanda
    July 22 2014

    FUN! Surfing in Hawaii is definitely on my bucket list!
    Amanda recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 23 2014

      Let’s go back and do it together šŸ™‚ Always fun to have a buddy to paddle out with!

  • Red Hunt
    July 23 2014

    Impressive stuff! Congrats on the surfing success šŸ˜‰ I haven’t tried catching any waves yet, but whenever I get to Hawaii, I think it will be the perfect place to try!
    Red Hunt recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 23 2014

      It is! For your first time, I’d recommend trying a morning session — the waters are calmer and there’s less current. Good luck!

  • TammyOnTheMove
    July 24 2014

    I would be rubbish at surfing I think. I have a terrible sense of balance and I would constantly be scared of shark attacks. Ha ha!
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 28 2014

      I have REALLY bad balance as well. I guess the determination helps!

  • Meihoukaiandra
    August 15 2014

    You just made me homesick. Can’t wait to get into the water when I’m back home n Maui next month!
    Meihoukaiandra recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      August 19 2014

      What an amazing place to call home, Meihoukaiandra! I’m jealous!

  • Katherinelou
    August 17 2014

    I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf! First, I must learn how to swim. I think that’s pretty important haha! I want to try paddle boarding though before surfing.

    Luna is so adorable!! I don’t blame your for barely concentrating; Luna is really adorable!
    Katherinelou recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      August 19 2014

      Learning to swim is probably a good first step šŸ™‚ There’s a big world of watersports out there waiting for you after, though!

  • Yara Coelho
    August 18 2014

    I’m also learning to surf…. I thought I would handle the paddling well because I swim a lot, but let me tell you that my arms turn into the “spaghetti arm feeling “after a while. After 40 minutes in the water I can barely lift them anymore, haha
    Yara Coelho recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      August 19 2014

      Seriously! It’s a great workout, huh? Think how strong those arms will be after a month šŸ™‚