Surf Cycling Hawai‘i: A Maui Activity with Authenticity

by | Mar 19, 2023 | Ocean, South Maui

Get real and have fun with Surf Cycling Hawai‘i in our video

This is not a story about ocean bikes. Well, it is…but it’s also a story of ‘ohana, or family in Hawaiian. Brothers, cousins, uncles…they all came together in the Joy family to represent Surf Cycling Hawai‘i.

With deep Maui roots, Kaniela Joy created the environmentally-mindful business with a goal of sharing history and mana‘o (thoughts, insights and beliefs in Hawaiian) with those who visit, and those who live here.

“Anytime you go to anybody’s home, you have to respect their home,” he explains. “You have to understand what it’s about and get more into the roots of it so you have a deeper connection to the places that you’re visiting or living.”

Memorable Mo‘olelo

Surf Cycling with Pu‘u Ola‘i in the distance on Maui
Surf Cycling with Pu‘u Ola‘i in the distance

We love the no-fluff mo’olelo (stories) and local expertise about the ocean and its surroundings by these knowledgeable guides, born and raised on Maui who are fluent in the language, history and culture of the island. 

As a few examples, the crew shares stories about the legends of demigod Maui and fiery goddess Pele, along with historic sites like Pu‘u Ola‘i, historically known as Mo‘oiki, a cinder cone folks can see from the water in Mākena.

Surf Cycling crew with happy customers on Maui
Surf Cycling crew with happy customers on Maui

They also remind visitors to be ‘āina conscious and culturally respectful when enjoying the island.

“Discipline was a main thing back in the ancient Hawaiian days, so we do a lot of discipline, which is clean up your ‘ōpala (trash), don’t take the rocks, respect the island,” says crew member Kahilihiwa Joy, whose first language was Hawaiian.

His education was through the Hawaiian language immersion program, Ka Papahana Kaiapuni (KPK), which delivers instruction exclusively in the Hawaiian language, or ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i, until 5th grade. So growing up here, Kahilihiwa learned to read and write in Hawaiian first, then English became his second language. His cousin and crew member Aukai did the same.

“It’s not so much like a job but more of a responsibility,” says Aukai. “The number one thing the teachers want us to do is go out and teach people about what we know. So people can really get the experience of a native educational tour.”

Sustainability at Surf Cycling

Surf Cycling in Olowalu
Surf Cycling in Olowalu

The crew also teaches about respecting the reef and awareness of marine life, which is often abundant. Surf cyclists can see fish, turtles, dolphins and even whales during the season (roughly November to May with peaks from January through March).

Along with the stories and education in a fun group dynamic, there’s also a sense of tranquility and quiet solitude when you cruise over the expanse of crystalline water on your own. With no motors or paddles, the bikes won’t damage the reef as they glide over the ocean.

Kaniela customized them with platforms so they’re easy to hop on and off and the crew helps guide bikes past the breakers. The bikes are quite stable in the waves and there’s no need to balance; you just stay seated and pedal like you would on a stationary bike and steer with the handles. Going in reverse is no problem either!

Aloha for All

Surf Cycling in Mākena
Surf Cycling in Mākena

Surf Cycling welcomes a range of ages and abilities for those who are at least 4’8″ tall and can peddle a bike. You don’t need to know how to ride a road bike or even how to swim!

“One of the best things about water biking is that pretty much anyone can do it,” says Kaniela. “If you can peddle a stationary bike, you can handle surf cycling.”

While not everyone may have the stamina to hike, the balance to stand-up paddle board or the energy for an early sunrise at Haleakalā, this ocean activity (offered exclusively by Surf Cycling Hawai‘i) makes for an easy, fun and unforgettable experience. This may in fact become your new favorite way cruise the Maui shoreline!

Surf Cycling Hawai‘i crew
Surf Cycling Hawai‘i crew on Maui

Kaniela hopes to inspire other local people to find their own unique ways to perpetuate awareness among all in our community.

“People who are from the islands that have a lot of history and knowledge of this place, go out and start something that make you have sustainability of life and at the same time enjoy it,” he says.

Learn more about this local business on the Surf Cycling Hawai‘i website. For some cultural stories on our vast, vibrant, vital waters (for instance, what is a Hi‘uwai ceremony?) and important ocean-related advice, check out our blog, Understanding the Ocean on Maui. #MauiOcean #MauiOutings #MauiInspired