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Which Hawaiian Island Is Best For Paddle Boarding | Answered

Hawaii is nature, greenery, Islands, and miles and miles of flowing water. It has to be one of the best vacation spots of all time with everything on offer. The Islands, the food, the culture, the history. You’re sure to have the time of your life here. 

Hawaii is actually the motherland of paddleboarding. The idea of being able to glide through the water on a board in search of peace, tranquility, and Zen was birthed here and that’s why here at The SUP Guru we fell in love with it.

There are multiple stories of how the concept of paddle boarding was formed. It’s believed it was a native way in Hawaii to transport and travel from one island to another on solid boards that are now known as SUPs.

Balance, inner peace, and being in the present are the main essence of the Hawaiian culture. 

The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago of eight major islands, each with its own attraction. It’s next to impossible to experience all of them in one go.

paddle waikiki and all the best places in Hawaii

We’ve compiled 17 locations across multiple islands.

The best Hawaiian island for your SUP vacation will depend on your individual requirements. 

Table of Contents

Hawai'i ( The Big Island)

Kahalu’u Bay

Kahalu’u Bay is located in Hawaii, the Big Island. This island is one of the underrated and quiet ones. This means that you can easily find yourself a parking spot as well as a beach spot. The water here is calm and relaxed, perfect for paddleboarding, all months except May.  

Kahalu’u Bay is the home of green-colored sea turtles, natively known as Honu. The sea life here, including the Honu, is protected. So, goes without saying that fishing here is forbidden. Coral reefs here are also protected, so make sure you don’t intentionally or unintentionally harm them. Be sure to educate yourself about the laws in Hawaii beforehand, so you and generations to come can continue to enjoy the beauty of the ecosystem around the island. 

Kealakekua Bay

Just 20-minute from Kahalu’u bay, Kealakekua Bay is a historical state park that’s ideal for water-based sports like snorkeling and paddleboarding

Kealakekua is rich in both marine diversity and history.

From green sea turtles to manta rays to spinner dolphins, you’ll see a lot of exotic sea creatures.

Historical importance lies due to the Captain Cook monument, reminiscing the conflicts between his crew and the locals. 

The easiest way to the memorial is by water. Paddleboarding with a proper tour group is recommended As local knowledge is a must in these waters. Boat tours are also available, and if you love hiking, you can walk there. 

Kukio Beach

Kukio beach has it all. When you think of Hawaii, the image that you create in your mind is exactly Kukio beach. With the beautiful white sand, coconut palm trees, and turquoise water, Kukio beach has it all

The shore of the beach doesn’t have many paddleboarding opportunities to offer. It’s riddled with sediment rocks and rough lava rocks. You have to go a bit further to enjoy the whole paddleboarding experience.

Beyond the beach, the clear and flat waters and diverse sea creatures will make it worthwhile.

Keauhou Bay

Keauhou Bay is the most modernized bay you’ll see in Hawaii. Most of the spots are all about culture and nature. But, Keauhou Bay is a little different. It’s a holiday resort with a wide variety of facilities like clubs and beach houses. There are well-built roads on this island resort. 

The water here at the Keauhou bay is calmer than most of its peersmaking it perfect for kids and beginners. The cooled lava bed harbors and the other native activities are sure to be fun.

Keauhou bay also holds historical value. This bay was the home of royalties back in the day and is the birthplace of the former Hawaiian King.

Maui Island

Kapalua Bay

Moving on to the Maui Islands, Kapula bay is one of the best Maui has to offer. Kapalua Bay has made it to the “Top 10 must-visit sites in Hawaii” countless times, and rightfully so. The shore is wide and spread out. It’s C-shape offers sheltered and calm waters. Due to its widespread shore, it doesn’t get too crowded

The shore is clean and open. 

The lack of rocks allows SUPs to paddle near the shore. This is ideal for kids and beginners who might not be ready for a full beach experience. Maui Island has extensive facilities, so you’ll get to have the best of both worlds.

One drawback here would be the rain. The rain here is quite recurrent and the wind carries the waves too. This may be your perfect paddleboarding spot if you’re not bothered by that.   

Makena Beach State Park

Makena beach state park has 3 beaches to offer. And all of those beaches are everything a beach is ought to be. White golden sand with an extensive mesmerizing stretch of clear turquoise water.

All of the beaches in this park are easily reachable with either a quick hike or a paddle. 

The water here is calm, perfect for newbies or experts looking to work on some techniques. 

The Makena beaches are close to another beautiful spot known as the Naupaka beach, the black sand beach. Naupaka beach can serve as a perfect afternoon or evening resting spot for paddleboards in the area. 

You can also visit the turtle town while paddleboarding. Turtle Town is actually a coral reef where several sea turtles live, located just on the south of Maui. 

Kihei

Kihei is located along the shoreline of the Maalaea Bay. Kihei Bay is another less pursued and underrated spot on Maui Island. If you’re looking for a quiet paddleboarding session, this is where you go

The coastline is lined with palm trees providing a shaded paddling route, especially in summers. Although the best time to visit would be winter. In winters, you’ll be able to see schools of humpback whales as they migrate around that time

There is also a beautiful and ancient lake Ko’ie’ie fishpond. This pond separates the shore and the water beyond. 

The Maliko Run

The Maliko Run is a commonly pursued spot by the paddle boarders. If you’ve been paddle boarding for a while, you probably would’ve heard of the Maliko Run.

The calm waters and a gentle breeze make this route so special. The wind provides a gentle nudge towards the island’s northeast end. Located on the north end is the Kahului harbor.

If you want to make many paddleboarding friends, Maliko run is where you want to be. 

Napili Bay

If you’re looking for more of a challenge as a paddler, there is no better spot than Napili bay. The overall clime here is different and rougher than most spots we’ve discussed so far. The wind here is harsher than most, leading to bigger waves.

Often referred to as the secluded spot of Maui Island, this area is not usually visited by less adventurous folk. The recurrent rain and heavy winds are not considered the best by most.  

Due to fewer crowds here, the bay itself and the facilities are not well-developed, but there are plenty of other bays nearby that offers all sorts of facilities and amenities.

Moloka'i Island

Kamalo Harbor

Kamalo Harbor is for newbies. All the people who just really want to learn all about paddleboarding should come here. Kamalo Harbor has one of the best paddle boarding schools. The tour guides and instructors are here to guide you through the way from the harbor to the rice patch. 

From basic learning to skill development, all can be done here. The calm water and soothing surroundings will help you get better at paddleboarding.

O'ahu Island

Lanikai Beach

Lanikai beach has been deemed one of the most beautiful beaches in the world countless times. The sunsets and sunrise from this beach are highly acclaimed. Lanikai beach is at a distance of approximately a 1-mile paddle from the Mokulua Islands. 

Besides the attraction of clear waters, this beach is also a bird sanctuary. So people aren’t allowed to go exploring within the island. 

Overall, this beach is highly recommended to folks who are experienced paddlers due to its large reefs and rough waves.

Waikiki Bay

Waikiki bay is the LA of Hawaii. Arguably the most modernized bay in all of Hawaii. You’ll find it all here, from 5-star resorts to luxury shopping and dining. The sunsets here are the most beautiful times of the day. Make sure to witness those when here.

The water is calmer around the shore but rough beyond, making it suitable for beginners and veterans. The only con here is the crowd. Waikiki bay stays crowded all year round. 

Ala Moana Beach Park

Ala Moana beach park is a great substitute for Waikiki Bay when it comes to paddleboarding. Waikiki bay is always crowded, but Ala Moana beach is relatively less crowded. The water here is flat and calm

The buoys are placed to separate swimmers from surfers, ensuring everyone has a safe space. Ala Moana beach park itself offers quite a few experiences and facilities. Including tennis courts and yacht clubs, and even shopping malls. 

Puaena Point Beach Park

Another one of our quieter and serene spots. Puaena Point Beach park offers a gentle breeze, flat waters, an extended shoreline away from all the crowd. The green island and the rocky shore are sure to make a memorable scenery. 

It is advised to wear beach shoes as rocks can be pretty sharp along the shore. About 500 offshore reefs and extensive stretches of water are very suitable for a light paddleboarding session

Sunset Beach Park

Sunset beach is a great stop when paddleboarding along the island of Oahu. Second to none in beauty and awe, sunset beach has a lot of natural splendor. 

Many big waves surfing competitions have been held here during the winter. 

Although the beach is open to visitors all year round, the winters are best suited for folks who have some experience with paddleboarding. While summers would be perfect for casual paddlers.

Kauai Island

Anini Beach

Next to Poipu and Hanalei, Anini beach is located on the northmost end of the Kauai beaches. The flux of visitors here is less than its peers, making Anini beach the most serene place of all. Anini beach offers a few water sports opportunities, including kayaking and paddleboarding.

It has long stretches of protected coral reefs. These reefs provide stability and stillness in the water, making the overall water conditions of the beach predictable perfect for paddleboarding.

Hanalei River

Hanalei Bay is where the Hanalei beach meets the ocean. Hanalei river holds flowing water that will give a gentle push throughout the river. Surrounded by palm trees, hibiscus bushes, and tall grasses, this will be the best stroll paddling experience of your life

Paddling here, you’ll be able to witness wildlife and sea life. The lazy river with lush greenery is sure to remind you of the glories of nature. 

Summing It Up

Each of the main islands of Hawaii is visually stunning in its own way. While some locations are only suited to experienced paddlers, there are plenty of areas for the newbies and kids who want to learn how to SUP. Whether it’s swimming or paddling, Hawaii is sure to captivate you. As we said initially, the best place to SUP in Hawaii ultimately depends on your individual needs and requirements. So make the most of it and enjoy your well-earned vacation.

Steve Frankland

Steve Frankland

Steve Frankland loves the outdoor life and getting out in nature. He loves writing and sharing knowledge. He's part of the team at thesupguru.com
He’ll find any excuse he can to get out on the water and can often be seen on a SUP with his kids and dogs.