Br Shelby Kantar

Of all the fabulous and far countries that wakeboarding has brought me, I have somehow never made it to the tropical islands of my own country.  After competing in Australia over my winter break, I decided that I would take my first non-wakeboarding relaxing vacation to Maui for my Aunt’s wedding; or so I thought. While out on my aunt’s runabout for a fun day of snorkeling with my cousins in Honolua Bay, we came across the one and only wakeboarding charter boat in Maui. This boat belongs to Ryan Hickey, head coach and founder of the wakeboarding school Wake Maui LLC. Wake Maui LLC is based out of Lahaina and has much to offer to its customers including beautiful scenery, crystal clear clean water, snorkeling, and most importantly wakeboarding.

For information about Maui Wake LLC please contact Ryan at or (808)269-5645

Ryan started Wake Maui in February of 2008. He had originally planned to go to law school after graduating with a degree in philosophy.  Instead of going into debt by attending school, he bought his 23′ Ski Supreme boat, and so aptly named it “Grad School”. Because Maui’s economy survives mainly through tourism, Ryan has to compete with many attractions including parasailing, helicopter rides, zip lines, and biking down volcanoes (most of which my family and I ended up doing). Similar to me, many people do not realize wakeboarding is present in Maui because big companies pay a lot of money in advertising and making sure travel agents are booking their activities. “We are a small company that survives purely on customer service and people’s passion for wakeboarding. With small groups we avoid trying to compete with the cattle boats and instead try to make every trip like you’re out with friends,” says Hickey.

Despite the competition, Ryan’s business is making it, taking customers right out of Lahaina into the big blue ocean for some shred time. Like many small business owners, the first few years are a struggle surviving on macaroni and cheese, but through his hard work and perseverance, Ryan is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Like many wakeboarding locations, the water is best in the morning and can be very smooth in the various coves past the surf break. Because I hadn’t planned to wakeboard in Maui, Ryan searched the entire island to find me a Liquid Force setup and a Body Glove Vest so that I could get some wakeboarding practice. We set out on the trusty Supreme named Grad School on my last day in Maui. This was quite a different experience for me because I could actually see the bottom of the ocean unlike the dirty delta where you cannot see even see your own feet. Every once in a while Ryan would point out from the boat to a sea turtle swimming next to me while I was riding. Ryan describes that “Salt water riding is a trip! I’ll be out for a ride and look down and see tropical fish, turtles and every once and a while compete with the dolphins for best trick of the day!” Coincidentally, we were there when Michael Jackson died and our chase boat was a huge offshore racing boat called Thriller.

After we rode, Ryan pulled out some snorkeling gear which he reserves for his customers and we swam next to sea turtles and schools of fish underneath a pier. Operating a business has been a great opportunity for Ryan as this Montana Native has grown to know many of the hidden parts of Maui. A major advantage in wakeboarding with Wake Maui LLC, besides wakeboarding in a beautiful place, is having someone you trust take you to the best snorkeling spots and fill you in on the secret hikes that the locals might be reluctant to tell you about. Ryan describes Maui as, “amazing, we have world class surfing, scuba diving, sailing, mountain biking and now wakeboarding, it is truly the land of the endless summer.” So make sure when you’re in Maui to stop by Wake Maui LLC and do some wakeboarding!

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