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Surfing on Maui's insider take:

Maui has several forgiving breaks that are visible from Route 30 (around Lahaina), including those at Launiupoko Beach Park and Puamana Beach Park. Beginners on the south side should tackle the gentle baby break at Sugar Cove on South Kihei Road. Both novices and advanced riders can enhance their performance and ocean safety by investing in at least one day of surf lessons. Hunky twins Tide and Kiva Rivers, known as surf instructors to the stars (Adrien Brody, Zach Braff, Jake Gyllenhaal), have been riding Maui's waves since they were toddlers and can introduce experienced surfers to Maui's less obvious spots (Rivers to the Sea; 808-280-8795; Goofy Foot Surf School is one of the best outfits on the island for group lessons. Owner Tim Sherer and his instructors are ambassadors for the sport, and their enthusiasm is contagious (505 Front St.; 808-244-9283;

The north shore's unifying event is Jaws, a 60- to 100-foot monster swell that only breaks about six times per year, between November and January. Hundreds of spectators crowd the cliffs of a remote pineapple field to watch daring experts, such as Maui resident Laird Hamilton, ride the waves. The bellmen at your resort will know if the surf's up and can tell you where to go: The viewing spot is off an unmarked road in Haiku, so you'll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle and very specific directions to find it. Otherwise, head to Hookipa Beach Park or Honolua Bay, where there's usually a show.

If surfing seems intimidating, you may want to try your foot at stand-up paddling—a.k.a. paddle surfing—which involves balancing on an oversize surfboard and propelling yourself with a single paddle. It's all the rage on Maui because it has a much quicker learning curve, which makes it a lot more fun, too: You will not only stand up on your first day, but if you're in reasonable shape, you can expect to master it within an hour. It's easiest if the ocean is flat, and gets more challenging when you attempt to catch waves. To get started, take a lesson with Maria Souza, Laird Hamilton's ex-wife (808-579-9231;

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