Aloha Wahines from Rhonda on the Big Island of Hawai’i! I started SUPing in 2007 when I lived in San Diego and moved to the Kona side of Big Island in 2009. If you have never been here, it is very different from the bustling Waikiki on Oahu. Quite often, it’s just me and the fish out in the water!
I highly recommend a visit to Big Island and would like to share some of my favorite SUP spots with you! In the heart of downtown Kona is the Kailua Pier, which is also the swim start and transition area for the Kona Ironman World Championship.
It’s an excellent place for swimming and trying out SUPing, and you can easily rent and safely launch a board from the Kona Boys’ “shack” in back of the King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel (Courtyard Marriott) on Alii Drive. This SUP spot is frequented by Spinner dolphins, so don’t forget to bring your waterproof camera!
Do you feel a little daring and would like to try SUP surfing? Drive 10 minutes south on Alii Drive to Kahalu’u Beach Park, which is popular for safe swimming and snorkeling as well as a favorite place to learn SUP and SUP surfing.
Keep in mind that the surf is bigger in the winter, so I recommend either talking with one of the on-site lifeguards to ask if the conditions are right for your experience level, or hiring one of the SUP instruction companies (Google “Kahaluu surf instruction” for a few listings) to show you how to safely access the water and catch some waves. Kahalu’u gets crowded, and the ocean can get choppy later in the day, so I recommend going early.
If you are staying north in the Waikoloa Resort area and looking to SUP, the wide-open Anaeho’omalu Bay is fun to SUP as long as the strong trade winds that frequent the area are not blowing. Boards may be rented from Ocean Sports that are located directly on the beach behind the Waikoloa Beach Marriott.
Once again, I recommend going early since the wind is more calm in the morning. A benefit to SUPing is the ability to view marine life while you glide through the water, hovering over colorful tangs, parrotfish, and sea turtles.
Wear polarized lens sunglasses for even better viewing through the surface of the water (as well as better eye protection!). In addition to getting a great workout and seeing many beautiful fish , SUPing on the Big Island during the winter season gives you the opportunity to see humpback whale mothers teaching their calves to breach and tail slap, which is one of the most amazing things to witness. I hope this inspires some of you to visit our island, and maybe we’ll even see each other on the water!
Mahalo for reading,…and Aloooooha!
Wanna read more about Rhonda? Check out her team rider profile!