Hawai‘i’s ocean remains the ultimate playground for water sports enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels.
Thanks to Hawai‘i’s ideal position within the Pacific, there is no shortage of water sports and the enthusiasts who love to take part. From surfing and stand-up paddleboarding to wakeboarding and windsurfing, there are many ways to actively enjoy the warm waters that surround our island home.
But there also exists a unique amalgamation of these iconic water sports that might have some people wondering just what it reminds them of.
“It really is a mix of windsurfing, paragliding, surfing and wakeboarding but unique at the same time,” explains Hawai‘i Waterman Hall of Fame inductee Robby Naish.
Kiteboarding has grown in popularity over the past couple of decades, and in that time has come to be a well-loved hobby for people of all ages and skill levels.
“It’s quite easy to learn, and you get good fast,” adds Naish. “Unlike many water sports, the learning curve is amazingly fast, so one gets a sense of accomplishment and sees improvement with every session.
“It becomes really addicting.”
There’s a joy that comes from lifting high into the air and landing light as a feather onto the surface of the water — an adrenaline junk-ie’s dream, if you will.
While kiteboarding looks intense, according to pro surfer Kai Lenny, it can be anything but. In fact, the misnomer that kiteboarding is an extreme sport is quite misleading.
“It is impressive how much fun I can have using the kite in very light wind or extremely strong, and everywhere in between.”
For members of Kailua Kiteboarders Club, it’s a lifelong sport.
“Some of our most passionate riders are age 70-plus,” says member Kim Perez Hults.
For club president Brian Leonard, kiteboarding can be an intense workout or a casual cruise over the water.
“You can choose how quickly you want to wear yourself out,” he says. “I can wear myself out in 45 minutes or be out there for three hours just looking at the fish or turtles or the reef. It’s almost like driving a car. You can control the amount of power that’s going on, the amount of speed.”
It really is for anyone and everyone. Lenny, another Waterman Hall of Fame inductee, took up the sport at age 9 while visiting Fiji, and Kailua Kiteboarders Club once welcomed a member as young as 8.
That’s not to say that proper training is not a requirement, though. In fact, Hults — who co-owns Sammy’s Aloha Watersports with her husband — and Leonard recommend finding a certified instructor to learn the ins and outs of the sport. In addition, they recommend starting off with a twin-tip board,
similar to a wakeboard, for beginners. After that, hobbyists can advance to a surfboard-style craft and then a hydrofoil board.
But really, kiteboarding is for anyone who just wants to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.
“I like getting away from the crowds,” says Leonard. “It’s such a diverse activity. You can relax and cruise, or you can get aggressive and push your limits.”