Kitesurfing And Maui Waves: Island Sotheby's International Realty's Sam Utley Spills All His Local Insight

Posted by Staff Writer on Monday, March 8th, 2021 at 10:21am

You might think that lounging on the sand, sipping Mai Tai’s, and chasing waterfalls is all that Maui has to offer. That couldn’t be further from the truth. With over 120 miles of coastline, it’s no wonder that some of the biggest surfing is done right here on the Valley Isle. With an even better reputation for winds that would make any kitesurfer drool, this is one of the most thriving sports on the island. When you think about the surf on Maui you might be picturing monstrous waves that take the likes of professional surfers to conquer. But that’s the beautiful thing about Maui, there is something for everyone. Whether it’s your first time on a board, to Maui, or even to the ocean, you’ll always find your place here. 

 Historically called the best island in the world, Maui is hailed as the windsurfing capital of the world to many. Somewhere wind and water sport lovers test their skill and experience the Maui waves every year. Not only does Maui have an abundance of nature, but the tropical weather and warm water make it a dream destination for kitesurfing. Maui is known for having tradewinds that would make even the furthest surfer buy a one-way ticket just to ride the 15-25 knots NE winds in the summer. 

To get a better sense of what makes Maui one of the greatest kitesurfing destinations in the world we talked to Island Sotheby’s International Realty's own, Sam Utley, a seasoned kitesurfer and ocean pro. Read about his adventures on the water below!

 Tell us about your history with kitesurfing and how you came to be so passionate about it? 

SU: In the late 80’s early 90’s windsurfing was becoming extremely popular especially on Maui, I believe it had a huge influence on Maui’s north shore as it was the Mecca and recognized as one of the worlds greatest windsurf locations because of the constant strong trade winds with waves and warm water Maui has to offer.   

I didn’t ever get into windsurfing however, a new wind sport started showing up on Maui in the late 90’s early 2000-2001 it was like windsurfing but only using a kite to power you across the water. From the moment I saw it I knew this is something I wanted to do. With the kite you can jump high and float back down to the water. Eventually kitesurfing became one of the most commonly seen activities on the north shore of Maui.

How did you become so successful with kitesurfing?

SU: From the time I started to learn to kite surf I was hooked. I basically spent every afternoon on the water. The fun meter was at an all time high.

How has living on Maui helped perpetuate this passion of yours for kitesurfing? 

SU: Anyone who has interest in windsurfing, kitesurfing or any other wind activity then Maui is one of the best places on earth to live. The trade winds blow almost every day. People travel from all over the world to come to Maui on vacation to wind surf and kite and for the folks who live here well… they are typically on a different level skill set as they get to enjoy the sport daily. 

What is something people might not know about kitesurfing?

SU: Windsurfing/kitesurfing has a bit of a learning curve, for someone who is just getting started, my advice is not to get frustrated, keep paying your dues and in time it will click and you will be zipping across the water.

What are some of the best memories of kitesurfing you have?

SU: Most people that get into kitesurfing that have a surfing background use a small surfboard to kite on and venture out to the outside reefs to ride waves. Kitesurfing is like having a personal jet ski. You can go wherever you want and get out of trouble (or get into trouble) when the waves are big. Kiteboarding in big waves has to be one of the most amazing experiences I have had and still every time there are big waves and wind somehow I manage to schedule an afternoon ‘board meeting’ to get on the water.

What is the kitesurfing community like on Maui?

SU: Maui is the mecca for windsurfing and kitesurfing, so basically every pro either lives on Maui or travels to Maui every year to enjoy the strong trade winds, warm water and waves. 

Who are some of the people you look up to in the kitesurfing world?

SU: Pete Cabrinha and Robby Naish were both pro windsurfers that took on kitesurfing in the early days and have helped make kiteboarding what it is today. 

What are some of your favorite places on Maui and in the world to Kitesurf?

SU: The entire North shore of Maui is considered one of the worlds best places for wind sports. Kanaha is one of the most popular. I know there are other places in the world that you can enjoy wind sports but from what I am told nothing beats Maui.  


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