Monday, September 20, 2010

Ho'okipa, Maui: Windsurfing Capitol of the World

With multiple breaks off Spartan Reef and near-constant Trade Winds, Ho'okipa Beach Park has been home to the best windsurfers on the planet Earth ever since the sport when airborne in the 1980s. Championship competitions are held here (the grassy bluffs at the park's north end are a perfect grandstand) and much of the equipment, including Simmer sails, are designed in nearby Paia.

Paia reinvented itself in the the early 80s, when the studly new wave sport married the fetching waves of Ho'okipa. The fading Old West wood-frame plantation cottages and sugar shacks got a new coat of paint, as the sandy-footed set created a demand for a host of low-key tourist shops—boutiques, hemp-reggae wear, surfer-Joe outfitters, espresso Internet cafes, galleries, and seafood grills. The with-it epicenter for Paia is Mana Foods, where tribe members of organic enclaves and the dressed-down gentry seek whole-grain goodies and stimulated conversation. Maui Trailblazer has details on page 106.