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Close-Up: Surfing Maui

Heralded as the birthplace of surfing, Hawaii boasts many legendary shorelines, with the island of Maui laying claim to a number of the archipelago's top big- wave surf spots. East of Hoopika, the island's most famous spot, Peahi (or "Jaws," above), draws the world's best surfers with its massive 40- to 70-foot swells created by winter storms.

To get in on the action, pro sportsmen like Laird Hamilton pioneered tow-in surfing starting in the mid-1990s, enabling riders to catch waves larger than 30 feet with the assistance of a Jet Ski or a helicopter. Peahi continually produces some of the tallest waves in the world and has played host to the Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards. Only a handful of the most seasoned pros are able to tackle these aquatic beasts, which are best viewed from the vantage point of the cliffs above.

Experienced riders also descend upon the northwest shore's Honolua Bay at this time of year to take in solid rides on the area's iconic hollow waves, which regularly top 20 feet. It's also the site of the annual women's Billabong Pro Maui event, part of the Vans Triple Crown of surfing. Nearby, Windmills, often referred to as Maui's pipeline, beckons surfers with its long, barreling beauties.

But Maui's not all about riding giants. Beginning surfers can hang ten at beaches in West and South Maui, including Kaanapali, Lahaina, and Kihei. Surf's up!

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