Maui Surf

South Swell Forecast; Big Beach Good Bet

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By Carlos Rock

Big waves at Big Beach. Photo: Carlos Rock.

The last south swell produced moments of perfection at Maui’s famed and infamous shore break at Big Beach this week.

Although the waves were only supposed to reach heights of 7 feet, there were easily bigger waves rolling in consistently at Makena. Some wave heights exceeded 8-foot faces and they did not go to waste.

You have to be a strong and confident swimmer to venture out into the surf at Big Beach because there are so many hazards.


The S/SE direction in the swell is ideal for Big Beach, but then again that stretch of beach is very exposed to all types of angles of south swells. Basically any south swell will produce waves at Big Beach, big waves.

Underwater view of a huge wave at Big Beach. Photo: Carlos Rock.

For those that aren’t familiar with huge shore break waves, they can be very intimidating. The undertow, which is the pull under the water from an approaching wave pulling more and more water towards itself, is an unforgiving force that takes many people by surprise.

The undertow at Big Beach is very strong and to someone who isn’t a very strong swimmer can find themselves in the impact zone in seconds. The impact zone is where the lip of the wave lands with tremendous force. Enough to knock you out or potentially break your neck.

Maui Now’s Carlos Rock about to get a big barrel.


However, sometimes if you do manage to make it under the breaking lip, you also run the risk of getting sucked over the falls. If you are not extremely careful there you can get caught up in the momentum of the lip in a barreling wave and that will earn you a one way ticket to the sand.

The bigger the waves get, the more pull the undertow and the lip of the wave has, so exercise caution when out there.

The best view in all of surfing, inside the barrel. Big Beach. Photo: Carlos Rock.

However, Big Beach also boasts some of the best barrels on the island during the summer. It is basically the only consistently barreling spot on the entire island. And this swell was no different. Conditions earlier this week were nice and glassy all day long which made for great rides.


There looks to be some more swells on the forecast with a decent 3 to 5-foot swell supposed to hold for the weekend and part of next week, and another 3 to 5-foot south swell coming in on Wednesday (7/31).

Be sure to get out there before the summer is over.

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