Stab Magazine | Five Things You Didn’t Know About Maui (with Matt Meola)

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Maui (with Matt Meola)

All photos by Thomas Carey Given the close proximity to surfing’s most photographed stretch of beach (Oahu’s North Shore), footage and photos outta Maui weren’t so common until Matt Meola and pal Albee Layer came along. All of a sudden we couldn’t get enough of seeing these two gents throw themselves into howling cross-shores and stomping new flips (both dudes have literally invented airs). Matt’s […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

All photos by Thomas Carey

Given the close proximity to surfing’s most photographed stretch of beach (Oahu’s North Shore), footage and photos outta Maui weren’t so common until Matt Meola and pal Albee Layer came along. All of a sudden we couldn’t get enough of seeing these two gents throw themselves into howling cross-shores and stomping new flips (both dudes have literally invented airs). Matt’s distaste for crowds means he’d rather surf a less-perfect and more-windblown wave to himself than share good waves with a crew anyhow – unless of course it’s Jaws.

Obviously Maui’s nothing new to the surfing world, but perceptions about what good waves are have changed in recent years and now that so many surfers are all about a crumbling lip to jump off, the winds that belt Maui can sometimes be just what the doc ordered. Given how much Matt’s done to reignite Maui’s presence on the surfing radar, we had him give us a breakdown of some the island’s lesser-known attributes…


Albee Layer, Dege O’Connell, Tom Dosland and Matt share a laugh over a few Coors lights. Life on Maui ain’t bad at all.

1. It’s the windsurfing capital of the world.
My home break is literally the windsurf capital of the world. I don’t windsurf, no. I tried it when I was super young but I didn’t like it at all. It’s a lot windier than Oahu, and the direction of the wind is different. For our north-facing shore that we surf on, it’s a side onshore wind, whereas on Oahu it’s more of a side offshore. And, it’s a lot stronger. It’s a perfect air wind every day and good for the windsurfers or kite surfers. Half the time we surf, we have those guys buzzing past us in the lineup. It can get pretty nuts – sometimes there’ll be over 50 out there at one time. I had a friend who got ran over. A lot of times they’ll eat shit and you see their gear all washed up on the rocks. When there’s a lot of them it’s super chaotic, and there’s usually no surfers out cause a lot of them are afraid of getting run over. But they’re standing the whole time so they can usually see where they’re going. I don’t think it’s too dangerous. I have a few friends who are pro windsurfers – they’re super gnarly, the really good guys are entertaining to watch. But the kooks are pretty kooky.

2. The Wildlife.
Maui is infested with deer and wild pigs and goats. A lot of people who have grown up and live on Maui don’t even know that there’s deer there. I’ve told people that I hunt deer and they’re like, “where? There’s no deer on Maui.” They just have no idea. It’s a huge problem, they’re a full on pest. They’re an invasive species and they’re killing all the natural wildlife. I guess that’s a big reason why hunting is huge in Hawaii. A lot of people take their dogs and go hunting for pig, but I usually just take my bow and hunt for deer.


Matt sure likes flinging for the flats. And we sure like watching.

3. Worlds collide here.
Geographically, every side of the island is drastically different. Kahului is our main city and that’s where all the industrial stuff is and the Costco’s and that kinda stuff. Then there’s where I live, Haiku, where there’s tons of sugar cane. There’s houses but they’re not super close together, not like small neighbourhoods. If you were to go out to Lahaina, it’s super touristy with lots of little neighbourhoods. Kihei is super touristy as well. Then you have the area of Kaupo, which is super dry and deserty, and there’s no one around for miles and miles. If you drive around the back side, it’s a trip. You could drive from where I live, which is pretty jungly but a little more open, towards Hana on this road that winds through thick, thick jungle with waterfalls and streams, then you get to Hana which is a little town out there, and then keep going through more jungle and you get to a certain point, where it’s almost like a line straight down the mountain, and it just turns into desert. Huge, open, dry plains, with lava rock once you get closer to the ocean. Miles and miles of just nothing. Then you start heading up the mountain, you get to this place called Ulupalakua and it almost feels like you’re in Ireland or Northern California. It’s just one road that goes all the way around and if you take that road you’ll trip out on how much it changes. A lot of people come to Maui and stay in the touristy area, but the first thing I do when one of my friends comes to visit is take them on that drive.


This bold backdrop is just one of the many faces of Maui.

4. Half of it is covered in sugar cane.
But that’s slowly disappearing. When you fly in on the plane, you’re flying over tons and tons of sugar cane. It’s everywhere. All the sugar cane and pineapple crops are slowly disappearing and getting developed now though, which sucks. Luckily that whole back area I was talking about before hasn’t been touched. I think everyone wants it to stay that way, too.

5. It’s real fickle.
We have lots of decent waves but they rarely ever get good. Maui is the most fickle place ever. There’s so many spots where it’s like, we need this swell with this tide and this wind and it happens once every few years. We have Maalaea, which is one of the best and fastest waves in the world, but I’ve never been able to experience it because the last time it got good I was a little kid. It’s so fickle but when it turns on, it’s one of the best in the world. There’s also tons of spots that are hard to get to. I hate crowds, so I spend most of my time going on mission to surf weird spots that people don’t usually bother with. I’d rather surf a shitty wave with no one out than a better wave that’s crowded. If you don’t know the locals and you’re planning a surf trip to Maui, chances are you’re gonna get skunked. We have the north shore where we live, but because of the shape of Maui, we have two north shores. So we could surf a north swell on our side, and then drive for two hours to the other north facing shore and surf that same swell. Honolua Bay and Hookipa are almost two hours apart. If Hookipa is big, that’s when you wanna go over to Honolua Bay. But I never surf the bay cause it’s too crowded.


“I’d rather surf a shitty wave with no one out than a better wave that’s crowded,” says Matt.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

The WSL Pumps Over 10 Million USD Per Year Into CT Prize Money

Here’s how much surfers make, and how dramatically that’s changed over the years.

Feb 7, 2023

The Worst Day Of Competitive Surfing (So Far) In 2023

With 2-point heat wins and 30-minute lulls, Day 3 of the Billabong Pro Pipeline was…

Feb 7, 2023


Unlocked: ‘Toasted,’ By Caity Simmers

Your favorite surfer directs, edits, and stars in her first feature film. 

Feb 6, 2023


More Dane Reynolds Than You Can Stomach In One Serving

Chapter 11 TV is everything surf media needs.

Feb 6, 2023

Kanoa Igarashi On Concussions, Goose Chases, Title Visions, The Three Types Of Surfers CT’ers Encounter In The Water, And More

A candid and wide-ranging conversation with 2022 World #5.

Feb 5, 2023

Can Small-Scale Investors Buy Into Wave Pools?

Say you got $10k and a dream — what can you do?

Feb 4, 2023

An Early Pipeline Exit For Stephanie Gilmore Amidst GenZ Glory

Day Two of the 2023 CT season was a clear notice that the kids are…

Feb 3, 2023

Hand-Shaping, Glassing, And Finishing ’70s-Inspired Displacement Hulls Will Not Make You Rich

Profile: Tristan Mausse of Fantastic Acid is in it for all the right reasons.

Feb 3, 2023

Hassling, Head-Dips, and Broken Apple Watches

The 2023 CT is underway. Here's what happened on Day One of the Billabong Pro…

Feb 2, 2023

Stephanie Gilmore And Filipe Toledo Are The 2022 Stab Surfers Of The Year 

Caity and Hughie take Best Juniors, “NOZ VID” wins best film, and Ho and Pringle…

Feb 2, 2023

Stab Surfer of the Year: The Stab Premium Vote

Day Ten: You voted, we counted.

Feb 1, 2023

Red Bulls, Crypto Bears, Former’s Six-Figure Fish, Tyler’s Multi-Millions And More

A brief catalog of the latest surf industry news and whispers.

Jan 31, 2023


“Definitely The First Time I’ve Gone Surfing Via Plane”

Parker Coffin, Harrison Roach, and friends tear through NZ on Roark's most well-rounded surf trip…

Jan 30, 2023

Pipe Preview: This Year Feels Different

With John and Gabs healthy — and the arrival of the femme next-gen — here’s…

Jan 29, 2023

WSL Tells Competitors: ‘You Better Like Them Apples’

Will mandating competitors to wear Apple Watches make the 2023 tour more or less engaging?

Jan 29, 2023

Stab Surfer of the Year: John John Florence, Italo Ferreira, Balaram Stack, Rolo Montes, and Shaun Manners

Day 9: "You can't do better than his year last year." - John John Florence

Jan 28, 2023

Full Moon Surfs, Impassable Puddles, And A Few Nights Spent Sleeping In A WSL Commentary Booth

A reader-submitted collection of nonconformist surf stories.

Jan 27, 2023

Kael Walsh Now Owns A Bitcoin, And Watched One Crypto Video

He’s officially your Stab Edit Of The Year champion.

Jan 27, 2023