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Pau Hana Malibu Classic Review

If you want a flatwater board with classic lines and looks, this is a solid SUP
Pau Hana Malibu Classic
Photo: Pau Hana
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Price:  $949 List
Pros:  Looks cool, good for flat water
Cons:  Struggles with waves, no bungees included
Manufacturer:   Pau Hana
By Marissa Fox ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 28, 2021
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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 8
  • Glide Performance - 35% 6
  • Stability - 25% 6
  • Maneuverability - 15% 6
  • Ease of Transport - 15% 5
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Pau Hana Malibu Classic is a decent beginner board that performed pretty well in most of our tests. We love the classic style and look of this board. It’s got fairly good glide performance and is the perfect blend of stability and maneuverability for lakes or other flat bodies of water. The Malibu is easy to transport and carry and is also quite durable for a rigid stand up paddle board. However, we weren’t the most impressed with how this board fared in windy and wavy conditions so the Malibu might not be the best choice if you routinely take your SUP out in rougher waters.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $949 List$1,430 List
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$995 List$1,349 List
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$437 List
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Pros Looks cool, good for flat waterFast, stylish, stableRelatively inexpensive, lightweight, paddle includedGood glide performance, very stable, reasonably pricedInexpensive, durable, stable
Cons Struggles with waves, no bungees includedPricey, felt a little more fragile than other modelsSo-so maneuverability, could glide bettercumbersome to turn, not the most durableMediocre glide performance, extremely slow in choppy water
Bottom Line If you want a flatwater board with classic lines and looks, this is a solid SUPIf you are looking for the best of the best when it comes to stand up paddle boards, it’s hard to go wrong with the CatalystIf you are shopping on a budget for an all-around SUP, we think the Versa is a very good choiceThe smooth-gliding Kraken blends speed and stability and is the best of the best for most peopleIf you are searching for a soild SUP on a skinny budget, then this board is a good choice
Rating Categories Pau Hana Malibu Cla... /prAna Catalyst Tuf... Isle Versa Rigid Boardworks Kraken Sun Dolphin Seaques...
Glide Performance (35%)
6.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
2.0
Stability (25%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
Maneuverability (15%)
6.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
Ease Of Transport (15%)
5.0
5.0
6.0
6.0
2.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
5.0
6.0
5.0
9.0
Specs Pau Hana Malibu Cla... /prAna Catalyst Tuf... Isle Versa Rigid Boardworks Kraken Sun Dolphin Seaques...
Measured Weight (pounds) 31 lbs 27 lbs 26 lbs 26.6 lbs 46 lbs
Board Volume (liters) 234 L 203 L 175 L 326 L Not listed
Weight Capacity 249 lbs 215 lbs 215 lbs 290 lbs 250 lbs
Width (inches) 34 in 32.5 in 32 in 32 in 33 in
Length (feet) 10 ft, 6 in 11 ft, 2 in 10 ft, 5 in 11 ft 10 ft
Thickness (inches) 4.0 in 4.8 in 4.5 in 4.8 in 6.0 in
Fin Configuration Single Single Single Single, 11" center fin Single
Bungee Cargo System Inserts Only Yes Yes No Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Malibu Classic is available in three different colors — wood, white, and aqua — with our personal preference being for the wood version, which is the version we tested. This SUP also includes a paddle, making it a great package for someone starting out looking for a complete package to get out on the water.

Performance Comparison


We love the classic look of this SUP.
We love the classic look of this SUP.
Photo: David Wise

Glide Performance


We started by ranking and scoring the glide performance of each of these boards, looking at how much glide we got per paddle stroke in both calm and choppy water, as well as how much effort it took to accelerate each board up to speed. The Malibu Classic delivered some fairly good results, earning it a score just above average in this metric.

Starting with flat water, we were actually very impressed with how this board did, given its shape. This board is on the shorter side with a rounded nose, so it definitely pales in comparison to any of the longer and pointier race or touring boards but does well, given its shape. It accelerates fairly fast, and you will get some glide per paddle stroke.

The Malibue board glides fairly well on smooth water but struggles...
The Malibue board glides fairly well on smooth water but struggles to make headway against waves.
Photo: David Wise

However, this all changed once the water started to get a little choppy in our experience. This board struggled to make much headway against wind and waves. We also found that it doesn’t surf all too well and tends to slap when going against the waves. Overall, we feel this SUP glides well enough for longer tours as long as you are reasonably confident that the water will remain calm — or you might be in for an unpleasant experience.

Waves can be a bit tricky with this blunt-nosed board.
Waves can be a bit tricky with this blunt-nosed board.
Photo: David Wise

Stability


Our next set of evaluations for the Malibu Classic and the rest of the SUPs in the review is how stable they are. We awarded points based on how stable each board felt for beginner to intermediate paddlers in varied conditions, as well as on how stable each board is when loaded up with additional weight — in the form of kids, cargo, or canines. The Pau Hana again did pretty well, meriting a score in the upper portion of the group.

This Malibu Classic is a 34” wide board, making it one of the wider boards relative to its length. We found this SUP to be very stable on flat water and is great for lakes or ponds. It’s a fantastic option for beginners or novices, offering both stability — and style. It also has a listed maximum capacity of 249 pounds, so usually more than enough for a paddler and a bit of cargo.

This wider all-around board is great for beginners.
This wider all-around board is great for beginners.
Photo: David Wise

However, we did notice that stability can degrade a bit in wavy water. It actually handles the waves fairly well from a tipping perspective, but the flat nose tends to slap a bit when going head-on into waves. This slapping motion can be a bit jarring — to the point where you can lose your balance and take the unexpected dunk.

This board isn't the most nimble that we have seen.
This board isn't the most nimble that we have seen.
Photo: David Wise

Maneuverability


Our next set of tests for this stand up paddle board look at how nimble and maneuverable they are. We assessed this by looking at how easy it is to run each SUP through a slalom-style course, how confident we are that we could avoid an obstacle at the last minute, and how large of a radius it took to complete a U-turn. The Pau Hana did alright in these tests, earning a score just above average.

This board is definitely a flatwater board, so it doesn’t respond particularly well to leaning into a turn to try and make them tighter. However, it is a shorter board, so it fared fairly well in the U-turn and slalom tests. It’s fairly nimble, but we could definitely see a collision happening if you didn’t spot an object in front of you until the last moment though.

This board is a little on the heavier side but isn't too hard to...
This board is a little on the heavier side but isn't too hard to carry.
Photo: David Wise

Ease of Transport


Our next set of tests looked at how it is to move the Malibu Classic to and from the water. We based this on the weight, handle comfort, and overall feel when carrying on land. This board again did decently well, earning a score just above average.

This board is shorter compared to the touring options, which does make it a bit easier to haul. However, it is on the heavier side, tipping the scales at just over 30 pounds, so not our favorite to carry for more than a short distance.


Fortunately, the molded handle is fairly comfortable, and the board feels alright to hold, just a little fatiguing over time due to its heft.

This plastic-coated board held up well to our testing.
This plastic-coated board held up well to our testing.
Photo: David Wise

Durability


Our final metric looked at the durability of each SUP, with scores based on how each one held up to our comprehensive testing process. The Pau Hana finished out with a solid score once again.

This board has a VFT shell that makes it much sturdier than some of the composite boards, in our opinion. It seems to handle minor bumps and abrasions very well. However, we did notice that some of these scuffs and scrapes do show a bit more clearly due to the coloration, so it lost some marks for that.

Value


Overall, we think this board could be a good budget buy, offering a generalist performance at a below-average price — even including a paddle!

Conclusion


If you are a beginner or intermediate paddler searching for an all-around SUP, we think the Pau Hana Malibu Classic is definitely worth checking out — as long as you stick to the flat water. It’s stable, has a decent glide, and is fairly maneuverable when the water is calm, but we found it struggled a bit when the afternoon wind and waves kicked up or when surrounded by boat wakes.

Marissa Fox