In Hawaiian, the name "Wai Mauna" translates as "mountain water," and having watched the sport explode in popularity since its early days in Maui, our goal is to bring a piece of the Islands here to the river in Asheville.
Our boards are designed by Dave Kalama—a professional, Maui-based waterman and paddler who's credited with starting the sport—and each of our tours has a touch of that classic, casual aloha spirit. We're also big on sustainability and supporting our local community, and check out our sustainability page for ways we're working to help Asheville.
Meet The Team
We're proud to offer some of Asheville's most talented standup paddle instructors. All of our guides are certified instructors by the American Canoe Association, and have a genuine passion for the sport that they're happy to share with our guests.
Wai Mauna Asheville SUP Tours is run by Kyle Ellison, a paddler, diver, surfer, and sailor who moved from the beaches of Maui, Hawaii, to the mountains of North Carolina. Prior to operating Wai Mauna Asheville SUP Tours, Kyle spent a decade traveling the world and working in tourism and watersports. He's an ACA Level II SUP Instructor, PADI Divemaster, SNUBA Instructor, and holds a 100-ton Captain's License from years spent working on sailing catamarans in Maui. He spent a summer guiding sea kayak tours through Alaska's Kenai Fjords, and another summer as a charter boat captain in Lake Tahoe, California. He competes on the professional paddleboard circuit, is a team rider for JP Australia, and is trained in CPR, First Aid, and basic river rescue. He's also the author of a guidebook to Maui, has traveled through 65 countries, and helped to start a non-profit in Cambodia that provides scholarships for underprivileged students.
Having worked as a boat captain, scuba diver, and researcher in New Zealand as well as Hawaii, Danelle missed surfing and chasing waves when she moved up here to the mountains. When she learned of whitewater standup paddling she took to the waters immediately, and when she isn't leading standup paddle tours on the calm, flat waters in Asheville, you can find her paddling whitewater rapids on Section 9 of the French Broad. Her second passion is rock climbing, and she is super keen to introduce others to the the awesomeness of SUP, and share the stoke she feels on the river while paddling through beautiful Asheville. She's an ACA certified SUP instructor and CPR/First Aid certified.
It was Asheville's rivers and whitewater spots that brought Tom here 21 years ago, and since that time he's tackled rapids in every river craft imaginable. He started out in whitewater kayaking before moving to whitewater canoe, and he now runs rapids on his standup paddleboard with a crew of Asheville's best paddlers.
He's an ACA certified SUP instructor and CPR/First certified, and also enjoys snowboarding and mountain biking when he isn't out on the river.
Born and raised in Western North Carolina, Holly grew up right by the banks of the Pigeon and French Broad rivers. She was introduced to standup paddling when a friend brought a board on a camping trip, and now she's gone from lazy day paddles to racing and paddling whitewater. Thankfully her "day job" as a veterinary technician allows her the freedom to pursue these adventures, and outside of standup paddling she also enjoys camping, reading, and creating crochet. You can also find her hiking along with her two dogs, and she's excited about introducing new people to Asheville and fun escapades on the river. She's an ACA certified SUP instructor as well as CPR certified.
A regular face in Asheville's whitewater scene, Eric has been paddling since 2012 and is an ACA certified SUP instructor. He has two teenage daughters, is happily married, and says he has always loved being on water since when he was a little kid. He brings a genuine enthusiasm onto the river, and when he isn't leading paddleboard tours you'll probably find him out whitewater paddling or riding his bike through West Asheville.
An Asheville resident by way of Connecticut, Les is a surfer who recently found his way up here to the mountains. He's an avid racer who competes in some of the Southeast's largest events, and is constantly working on improving his stroke and putting in better times. When he isn't working for Wai Mauna Asheville SUP Tours, Les teaches Spanish at a local high school and makes frequent trips down to Puerto Rico in search of sunshine and waves.