Ah Maui. The mere mention of the name conjures to mind countless windsurfing fantasies involving warm steady trades, crystal-clear water, and waves aplenty.
From Ho'okipa through Camp One and down the north shore to Sprecks and Kanaha, or across the island to Kihei, Maui offers world-class sailing for windsurfers of all abilities across a range of disciplines.
Indeed, it's not uncommon to see one of the worlds best blasting out off Kanaha in the morning and then dominating the peak at Ho'okipa in the afternoon. The Valley Isle truly is windsurfing's action central.
In keeping with its reputation as a dream destination the island plays host to a veritable united nations of windsurfers spanning a wide age range and including a very healthy number of women.
Where to Stay ?
Accomodation covers the full spectrum of options though is in pretty high demand so do your homework and book ahead. But bear in mind that most (if not all) of the accommodation houses on the island operate on a strictly no refunds policy so, as is so often the case, caveat emptor.
That said you can also score quite comfortable digs regardless of your budget.
For those on a shoestring, Paia's "Rainbow's End" is without doubt the pick of the properties catering to the cut-price traveller. With a selection of dorm or private rooms in a funky Hawaiian-style beach house, the "RE" should be at the top of the list for the hostel-set.
If your circumstances demand more salubrious surrounds, you'll find a plethora of options on Maui, from the up country ambience of Haiku through to a string of international resorts around Lahaina.
What to Bring ?
While the jury's still out on the debate over taking your own kit or hiring gear over there, several items should be considered essentials. Sun protection including: sunscreen, sunglasses, rashee/wetshirt, etc. understandably should top the list given that you are in the Tropics.
And even though harnesses are included in all rental packages, it's not such a bad idea to take your own or treat yourself to a brand spanking new one as they are great value for money (indeed, JB was so stoked with his new harness, he bought a spare!).
If you do decide to take your own equipment with you, consider the type of sailing you want to do and pack accordingly. As a rule, the winds are stronger but the surf flatter during the summer months, while Autumn, Winter, and Spring offer the best of the waves but less reliable breeze.
The majority of shops reckon 4.5m to 5.2m on 75-85lt is there most popular combination, however, if you can squeeze in say a 5.8m-6.0m as well you'd be fully covered for all contingencies.
Should you choose to go the rental option for your windsurfing kit, consider taking at least one surfboard with you, for while it can get a bit breezy on the water there are some fun and some quality waves to be found on Maui.
Indeed, there's been an abundance of surf on Maui this year with some solid swells still hitting the north shore well into May (virtually unheard of according to locals).
Where to Go ?
If there's one thing Americans love it's their food and Hawaiians are no different. All tastes are catered for and personal favourites include the "Paia Fish Market" and Lahaina's "Cheeseburgers in Paradise".
Both Charley's Bar (co-owned by Willie Nelson) and the legendary Jacques are also well worth a look and those after that little bit more in their nightlife are urged to make their way to Lahaina.
The former whaling town has managed to retain a certain degree of its rustic charm despite the arrival of good old American consumerism and is well worth a visit.
But take a tip from the wise and always carry some form of photo ID if you are planning on having a tipple. For as JB found out the hard way (more than once) some places will not sell you or serve you a drink (eg: not even if I shouted) unless you can produce ID.
For the sightseer Maui really is a tropical paradise, with some spectacular waterfalls along the road to Hana, the ever present Haleakala - the world's largest dormant volcano, and the verdant splendour of the Iao Valley.
Add to that, some pretty spectacular surfing, swimming, and snorkelling beaches and it's easy to see why so many folk who make their way to Maui stay put.
As they say in these parts: Maui No Ka Oi - Maui is Number 1!
When to Go ?
As a rule the Trades are at their most consistent from May through until September (ie: Spring until early Autumn) while the waves tend to be bigger (and better) during the northern winter.
How to get there ?
At time of writing fares from the East Coast to Honolulu were very good value for money, from as low as $670 (plus tax) with Hawaiian to $1,098 (again plus tax) with Air NZ. While most carriers require you to embark at Sydney for a 10 or so hour direct flight over, both Air Pacific and Air NZ offer the option of departing from Brisbane with stopovers in Nadi and Auckland respectively.
Neil Pryde - www.neilprydemaui.com
Hi-Tech - www.htmaui.com
Al West's Maui Vans - www.mauivans.com
Hawaiian Island Surf & Sport - www.hawaiianisland.com
Kanaha Kai Maui - www.kanahakai.com
Maui Windsurf Co - www.mauiwindsurfconmpany.com
Second Wind - www.secondwindmaui.com
Rainbow's End - email@example.com
Word-of-Mouth - www.mauirentacar.com