Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Maui

stand up paddleboarding lessons on Maui, SUP, MSUP


If you’ve ever sat on a beach watching stand-up paddle boarders glide past you and thought it looked fun, you would be right. If you’ve watched people run into the ocean with their boards and gracefully jump to their feet before serenely paddling away and thought it looked easy, you would be less right.

Three years ago, we did a group paddle boarding lesson on Maui. With the exception of learning some basic paddle boarding skills and having a chaperone on the water, the lesson was otherwise pointless. Perhaps because of years of yoga and acrobatics practice, I took to SUPing easily. As such, I was ignored by the instructor who focused his efforts on people who couldn’t do headstands on their paddle boards. For Laura, who like many people, found standing up to be challenging, the lesson provided little support or guidance.


stand up paddleboarding lessons on Maui, SUP, MSUP


Laura never did stand up on her board that day. Nor did she stand up the next day when we went together for extra practice. A lot of people would have written off stand-up paddle boarding at this point. Though she was frustrated and exhausted, not to mention pessimistic about ever being able to paddle standing up, Laura was determined to stand on that board (perhaps, more honestly, I was determined to get her standing up).

To help Laura reach her goal, we booked a private SUP lesson in Makena with Maui Stand Up Paddle Boarding (a sister company of  Hawaiian Paddle Sports). Our guide Curtis was amazing and provided Laura with helpful tips to get her standing. He was encouraging without any pressure or expectations. For my part, he gave me some tips on more advanced skills which helped me paddle more efficiently.

Laura didn’t get up this day either. However, she found the lesson so encouraging that, despite being anxious about going out in the first place, she left actually wanting to try paddle boarding again.


stand up paddleboarding lessons on Maui, SUP, MSUP


The next morning, very early while the waters were still calm, we headed out again on our own. Motivated by the previous day’s lesson, Laura hit the waters with confidence (and maybe a little trepidation:). As the sun made its appearance over Haleakala, Laura stood up on her board and paddled for the first time! She did fall, because it does take the body time to develop the necessary muscles to balance, but she continued to get up and paddle more. It is not an understatement to say that this achievement was the highlight of her two weeks on Maui.


stand up paddleboarding lessons on Maui, SUP, MSUP
You can just make out our silhouettes at the top of this pic:)


More About Maui Stand Up Paddle Boarding (MSUP)

As well as providing a stand-up paddle boarding lesson, MSUP also includes a tour of the coast while SUPing. We wanted to focus more on creating space for Laura to practice standing, so we didn’t go too far, but the tour and lesson are individualised based on each person’s skill and ability. Our guide led us out to a nearby reef where we were able to throw on some snorkelling gear and get in the water. We swam next to a turtle, colourful fish, and other sea creatures. On the return journey, our guide took us to a tiny little bay where four turtles were sunning themselves on the rocks. Beyond the lesson and tour, Curtis had some great local tips and suggestions for us that were specific to our interests.

MSUP is an eco-conscious company that understands the environment needs to be respected in order for us to continue enjoying it. They do a mini beach clean-up before each lesson, as well as provide water in re-useable stainless-steel containers. They educate their customers on the importance of treating our oceans well and have reef-safe sunscreen for sale. In addition, MSUP also participates in a monthly activity supporting a non-profit organisation. The month we went out, they were joining the Paddle for Hunger fundraiser for which they helped raise over $8000 for the Maui Food Bank in 2016.

This lesson and all photos were provided by Maui Stand Up Paddle Boarding.


If you’re interested in surfing lessons on Maui, we did that too and you can read about it in our Learning to Surf on Maui article:)


Save to Pinterest!

Stand up paddle boarding lessons on Maui are about more than just standing up!


Related Posts

Shop Related Products

17 Replies to “Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Maui”

  1. I had so much fun paddle boarding with MSUP and our guide, Curtis, definitely put me at ease. I was so happy to finally get up and paddling. It was so rewarding!

  2. Sounds like a very positive experience. Full marks Laura for not letting it get the better of you.

  3. I miss Maui something fierce! Yet we never tried stand up paddle boarding because I’m the clumsiest person ever! Good job to Laura for making it!

    1. We will be back on Maui in March for more practice:)

  4. I love the resilience of getting back up and trying again. Congrats!

  5. Looks like so much fun! I really enjoyed snorkeling when I was on Maui! We also saw a sea turtle. Next time I go back I’ll have to try stand up paddle boarding!

    1. I see something new every time I go snorkeling. It’s quite amazing!

  6. How fun! It’s so much effort learning to SUP. I found my legs shaking so badly and getting tired so quickly! Great she could get there in the end – and Hawaii sounds like the perfect place for it too.

  7. Until you do it, it is hard to imagine that it could be a difficult thing to do. I remember seeing an amazing lady SUPping at Waikiki out with the surfers and she was absolutely incredible. I was totally in awe! Good on Laura for getting up time and time again and giving it all a go until she finally got there. A true achievement.

  8. Great to find the kind of lesson that inspires and motivates rather than frustrates. I have weak balance through my ankles even on solid ground so I suspect this would be extremely difficult for me, but I love Laura’s perseverence!

  9. Great to find the kind of lesson that inspires and motivates rather than frustrates. I have weak balance through my ankles even on solid ground so I suspect this would be extremely difficult for me, but I love Laura’s perseverence!

  10. That looks like so much fun! And in a non-adrenaline rush kind of way. Standing and balancing on a paddle boat is one thing. But headstands on paddle boards! Wow. And WOW.

  11. I was shocked my first time, while I took to it easy, it was harder than I figured and my feet got sore from balancing! I would be won over by the ability to put my snorkel gear on it and head out though, a perfect combination!! Maui would be a fantastic place to SUP.

  12. I really want to try Stand Up Paddleboarding! I’ve heard it’s a lot more work than it looks like. Plus I’m a klutz, and I’d probably fall off a bunch 😛

    1. It’s definitely more work than it looks like. I don’t even always feel it until I get back on land, but it works a lot of muscles.

  13. Really inspiring, she did an incredible job, truly paddling is a difficult activity to learn, it always take much time sometimes thought than before, Your body needs to get used to balancing the board in the water,but once you learn it, it is really worth it, you never will never get bored doing this activity.

  14. Good for her for being persistent! I’m buying a paddleboard soon. I’ve testing them out a few times by borrowing friends….someday I hope to be doing yoga on it!

Leave a Reply