Maui Surf

Crystal Blue Barrels at Makena from South Swell

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By Carlos Rock

Beautiful day at Big Beach, Makena. Photo: Carlos Rock.

The small south swell on offer for the islands has been dishing up some nice waves for Big Beach, Makena.

The name itself conjures images of gigantic shore break, sunny days, poundings on the sand, pulling into crystal clear blue barrels, and leaving the place as crispy as fried chicken afterwards.

A dream scenario for locals who know how to handle this type of surf, but it also spells disaster for tourists.


The infamous Maui shore break wave has returned to form this summer from lots of south swell activity, and has kept the lifeguards very busy.

Many tourists who aren’t used to seeing waves like that, let alone the Pacific Ocean, venture out into the surf not knowing the power of these waves. What can make the water so deceiving are long lulls in between the big sets.

Bodyboarders going for it. Charging. Photo: Carlos Rock.

For some, those waves are terrifying. But for those who know what they’re doing, the perfect barrels are the best way to escape the summer heat.


Riding barrels onto the shore break teaches you how to fall gracefully instead of fighting against the waves.

Falling correctly and not awkwardly is an essential skill in surfing. Often overlooked, but there is a right and wrong way to get pounded when out in the surf. One of  the best places on Maui to get comfortable with this skill and with riding barrels is Big Beach — but any type of barreling shore break will work.

Hop on a boogie board — or the all-natural way of body-surfing with a pair of fins; what some wave riders call the purest form of wave riding. The surfboard is not suited to the shorebreak waves (obviously) which makes having a reliable boogie one of the best assets in a quiver of surf boards.

Huge waves come out of nowhere. Photo: Carlos Rock.


Not much action to speak of regarding the west or north side with the small south swell, but the perfect barrels have been more than enough to satisfy an insatiable thirst for adrenaline from surfing barrels.

According to the forecast, there looks to be a rising S/SW swell on offer for today (7/23) in the 3 to 5-foot range with the peak of the swell happening tomorrow topping out at 3 to 7-feet.

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