Caution, Beware of fake Surf schools on Maui:
Unfortunately there are many scam artists today targeting the leisure industry and especially tourists in Hawaii. The surfing industry has its share of scammers too. So do your homework and be sure to only sign up with a legitimate operator, whose instructors are hardworking taxpaying real employees. Fake schools harm undermine the surf industry and hurt the real local schools and instructors in our community. Beware of imitators!
Do not trust any schools or individuals that “operate on Sundays” or say they “surf away from crowds”, this likely because they are unpermitted, don’t follow the rules, and have to sneak around outside of the approved beach parks to avoid detection.
Spotting fake school websites: Many fake schools tend to give vague meeting locations like “beside the road” or “away from the crowds”, because they are trying to hide from the authorities. Their photos will not have any instructors wearing uniforms, or school rashguards for their students. They will not usually have a map showing their exact meeting location. Don’t be fooled by a good trip-advisor or yelp rating as these do not distinguish the real permitted schools from the fake ones. When you compare these sites with a website of one of the legitimate schools, and you can easily see the differences. Do not trust them with your money or your safety.
How to spot the fake instructors: It is a requirement in Maui County for all surf instructors to wear a rashguard shirt with the company name/logo, and the word “Instructor” clearly printed on it. If your instructor doesn’t wear one of these is probably not permitted.
How to spot fake schools: All legitimate schools will have marked vehicles with the company name, and will always display their permits in the window of the vehicle. Fake schools drive unmarked vans/trucks, with no permits on display.
Report Surf Scams: If you think you have discovered a fake surf school or instructor please report it to the Maui County Parks Dept (808) 270-7230 or DLNR/DOBOR Enforcement: (808) 643-DLNR