12 of the Best Beaches in Hawaii for Surfing (Explained)

The best beaches in Hawaii for surfing include Oahu’s Ehukai Beach, Banzai Pipeline, and Waikiki Beach. Maui boasts Peahi (Jaws) and Hookipa Beach. Kauai offers the praised Hanalei Bay, while Hawaii’s Big Island features diverse prime surf spots. Each beach caters to different skill levels, from beginners to experienced surfers.

(The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in Hawaii)

An Introduction to the Best Beaches in Hawaii for Surfing

When you think about iconic surfing destinations, Hawaii likely tops your list.

You’re right in doing so; Hawaii holds a special place in the heart of the surfing world.

With its unparalleled wave patterns and deep blue waters, it’s no wonder you’re keen on discovering the best beaches in Hawaii for surfing.

Beyond just the waves, though, lies a rich tapestry of history and culture.

You see, the islands are not just about stunning beaches and adrenaline-rushing waves; they’re the very cradle of surfing.

The sport you love and seek to experience has its roots deeply ingrained in Hawaiian culture.

So, as you set out to explore the best beaches in Hawaii for surfing, remember that each wave you ride carries with it centuries of tradition and passion.

From the ancient Polynesians who first rode the Hawaiian waves to the legendary figures who popularized the sport, every spot you visit has a story.

Dive into this journey with an appreciation for the past, and you’ll find your surfing experience in Hawaii to be all the more enriching.


When it comes to surfing, Oahu stands tall as a beacon, drawing enthusiasts like yourself from all corners of the globe.

Whether you’re an experienced surfer craving adrenaline rushes or a newcomer to the sport looking for a gentle introduction, Oahu offers a perfect blend of waves.

Let’s delve deeper into some of the best beaches in Hawaii for surfing, focusing on the vibrant shores of Oahu.

Ehukai provides visitors with a taste of what it’s like to surf on Oahu’s North Shore.

The Diamond Head volcano is located on Oahu’s south coast.

1. Ehukai Beach and the Banzai Pipeline

If there’s a beach that resonates with the heartbeats of experienced surfers, it’s Ehukai Beach, home to the famed Banzai Pipeline.

Here, the waves are not just water formations; they’re powerful entities, demanding respect and skill.

If you count yourself among the seasoned surfers, the Pipeline promises an experience like no other.

However, do remember, with great waves come great responsibilities.

Ensure you’re well-prepared to tackle its challenges.

2. Backyards: Reef Mastery Required

Nestled between some of Oahu’s renowned surfing spots, Backyards is not for the faint-hearted.

It’s a testament to the raw power of nature, with its reef-filled conditions presenting challenges even for the highly skilled.

As you navigate its waves, you’ll not only test your surfing skills but also gain a deep appreciation for the island’s natural wonders.

3. Sunset Beach: The Theater of Icons

If beaches could tell stories, Sunset Beach would have tales of legendary competitions and iconic wave patterns.

A mecca for surf enthusiasts, it has witnessed countless surfers carving their names in the annals of surfing history.

Whether you’re here to ride its iconic waves or simply soak in its storied past, Sunset Beach promises an experience steeped in surfing lore.

4. Haleiwa Beach Park: Celebrating Surfing’s Vibrancy

Beyond just waves, Haleiwa Beach Park stands as a testament to the cultural vibrancy of surfing.

It’s not just one of the best beaches in Hawaii for surfing; it’s a hub, a gathering place for various surfing events.

From local get-togethers to grand tournaments, Haleiwa pulses with the shared passion of thousands.

Here, you’re not just a surfer; you’re part of a larger community.

5. Waikiki Beach: Where Every Surfer Begins

Lastly, if you’re just dipping your toes into the vast ocean of surfing, there’s no place like Waikiki Beach.

Known worldwide as a haven for beginners, Waikiki offers a gentle embrace to every newcomer.

Its friendly waves provide the ideal backdrop to learn, practice, and fall in love with surfing.

As you ride your first waves here, remember, every surfing legend once started where you are now. Embrace the journey!


While Oahu’s North Shore is the big name in Hawaiian surfing, some of the best surfing beaches on Maui will surprise you.

Maui, often referred to as the “Valley Isle,” presents an intricate tapestry of surfing experiences.

While it’s renowned for its lush landscapes and picturesque vistas, Maui also boasts some of the best beaches in Hawaii for surfing.

From adrenaline-inducing waves to gentle swells perfect for newcomers, Maui’s beaches cater to every surfer’s dream.

Let’s embark on a journey to understand what makes Maui’s surfing spots truly exceptional.

1. Peahi (Jaws): The Arena of Titans

If Oahu’s Banzai Pipeline is the dream of experienced surfers, then Peahi, famously known as Jaws, is the ultimate challenge for thrill-seekers and professionals alike.

Its waves don’t just roll; they roar, offering some of the most massive and formidable swells on the planet.

Tackling Jaws is not just about skill; it’s a dance with nature at its most intense.

If you consider yourself among the elite, Peahi beckons with an invitation to test your limits.

But tread with caution, for the waves here demand respect.

2. Hookipa Beach: A Blend of Wind and Wave

Moving from the might of Jaws, Hookipa Beach offers a more diverse experience.

Renowned as a windsurfing paradise, Hookipa is where the wind crafts waves into artworks.

The breezes don’t just complement the waves; they elevate them, making windsurfing here an experience to cherish.

But Hookipa’s charm doesn’t end with windsurfing.

For those just beginning their surfing journey or looking for a more relaxed session, the beach also offers beginner-friendly waves.

It’s a testament to Maui’s diversity – a place where seasoned windsurfers and budding surfers coexist, sharing the joy of riding the island’s versatile waves.


Kauai, fondly termed the “Garden Isle,” is a tapestry of lush greenery, cascading waterfalls, and pristine beaches.

But beyond its tranquil beauty, Kauai also emerges as a coveted destination for surfers in the quest for the best beaches in Hawaii for surfing.

While there are several spots to explore, there’s one in particular that captures the hearts of many – Hanalei Bay.

Let’s go deeper into what makes this beach a gem for surf enthusiasts.

1. Hanalei Bay: The Symphony of Waves

Nestled amidst Kauai’s verdant landscape, Hanalei Bay is more than just a beach; it’s a spectacle.

What sets it apart is its unique wave patterns, which are often praised by surfers of varying skill levels.

These waves don’t just crash; they dance, offering rhythms that range from gentle caresses for beginners to challenging crescendos for the experienced.

As you venture into its waters, you’ll realize that Hanalei Bay offers an immersive experience.

It’s not just about the surf; it’s about becoming one with the bay’s rhythm, understanding its ebb and flow, and harmonizing your surf with its melodic waves.

Every ride here is a story, a memory etched against the backdrop of Kauai’s enchanting beauty.

Whether you’re carving a new path with your board or simply soaking in the bay’s magic, Hanalei promises moments that will remain etched in your heart.

Hawaii (The Big Island)

The Big Island, also simply referred to as Hawaii, is often overshadowed by its siblings like Oahu and Maui when it comes to surfing.

However, it has a unique charm and offers a variety of surfing experiences that cater to both novices and seasoned surfers.

Here, we’ll explore the best surf spots and the magic of surfing on the Big Island.

The Unique Terrain

Unlike some of the other islands, the Big Island boasts a diverse range of coastal terrains – from black sand beaches formed from volcanic eruptions to rocky coastlines that challenge even the most experienced surfers.

Surf Spots on the Big Island

  1. Pine Trees: Located near Kailua-Kona, this spot is popular among locals. It’s suitable for all levels and offers a consistent break.
  2. Banyans: Known as one of the best spots on the Big Island, Banyans can produce world-class waves. However, it’s more suited for experienced surfers.
  3. Honoli’i Beach Park: Located on the Hilo side of the island, it’s a favorite among longboarders. The consistent waves and beautiful setting make it a must-visit.
  4. Kahalu’u Bay: Ideal for beginners, this spot near Kailua-Kona offers gentle waves and a chance to surf alongside green sea turtles.

A Different Vibe

What sets the Big Island apart is its less commercialized nature.

The surf spots are less crowded, allowing for a more intimate surfing experience.

Plus, the island’s vast landscapes – from volcanoes to rainforests – provide a unique backdrop that makes surfing here a surreal experience.

Navigating the Waves Safely: Essential Tips for a Secure Surfing Experience

When embarking on a surfing adventure in Hawaii, the allure of the waves, the warmth of the sun, and the thrill of the ride can be intoxicating.

However, beneath the surface of this exhilarating experience lies the paramount importance of safety.

The best beaches in Hawaii for surfing are not just about breathtaking waves; they’re about understanding and respecting the ocean’s might.

Here, we delve into some crucial safety considerations every surfer, whether novice or seasoned, should be aware of.

Heeding Beach Warnings: Nature’s Forewarning

The shores of Hawaii are often dotted with warning signs, flags, and indicators.

These aren’t mere decorations; they’re nature’s way of communicating with you.

Recognizing and respecting these warnings is your first line of defense against potential hazards.

Whether it’s a red flag indicating strong currents or signs warning of jellyfish, these alerts are there to ensure your safety.

Embracing them is a testament to your respect for the ocean and your commitment to a safe surfing experience.

Tackling Notorious Spots: The Respect Banzai Pipeline Demands

Certain spots in Hawaii have earned a reputation, not just for their stunning waves but for the challenges they pose.

The Banzai Pipeline, for instance, is not just a surfer’s dream; it’s a formidable force of nature.

Understanding the dangers of such iconic locations is crucial.

These waves aren’t merely about skill; they demand respect, experience, and a deep understanding of the ocean’s dynamics.

If you choose to ride here, do so with the utmost caution, awareness, and preparation.

Know Your Limits: The Art of Surfing Within Your Skill Level

The ocean is vast, powerful, and unpredictable.

While it offers moments of sheer joy, it also poses challenges that can test your limits.

It’s essential to recognize where your skills stand. Pushing boundaries is a part of growth, but diving headfirst into situations beyond your skill level can lead to peril.

The best surfer isn’t the one who rides the biggest wave, but the one who understands when to ride and when to watch from the shore.

Listen to your intuition, seek advice, and always prioritize your safety.

The waves will always be there; ensuring you’re around to enjoy them is in your hands.

Factors to Consider

When plotting your surfing adventure in Hawaii, a few pivotal considerations can greatly enhance your experience.

You’re not just picking any beach; you’re selecting from the best beaches in Hawaii for surfing.

To make the most of it, it’s crucial to align with the island’s rhythm, weather patterns, and local culture.

Understanding the Hawaiian Seasons

Hawaii’s beauty lies in its year-round surfing opportunities.

But did you know that the best beaches in Hawaii for surfing can offer vastly different experiences based on the season?

Winter and summer in Hawaii aren’t just about temperature shifts.

During the winter months, the north-facing shores come alive with robust waves, often favored by seasoned surfers seeking a challenge.

On the other hand, summer tends to be gentler on the north, with the southern coasts offering the best swells.

When planning your trip, align with the seasons to ensure you’re at the right spot at the right time.

Wind’s Role in Crafting the Perfect Wave

The role of wind in shaping the waves on the best beaches in Hawaii for surfing is pivotal. While Hawaii boasts transparent, pristine waters, the quality of your surf can be heavily influenced by wind conditions.

Offshore winds, blowing from the land out to the sea, generally sculpt the waves into a surfer’s dream – clean, well-defined, and ripe for riding.

Conversely, onshore winds can make the ocean choppy, potentially dampening the surfing experience.

So, always keep an ear to the ground (or rather, the wind) when planning your surfing sessions.

Embracing the Local Surf Culture and Etiquettes

You’re not just a visitor; you’re a guest.

The best beaches in Hawaii for surfing are also home to a thriving local surf community.

Engaging with this community can enrich your experience multifold.

Every beach, especially the renowned ones, has its unwritten codes.

From understanding the right of way on a wave to knowing where to paddle out, respecting these etiquettes not only ensures safety but also fosters mutual respect.

Always remember, the waves are for everyone, but the culture and traditions belong to the locals.

Approach each session with humility and an eagerness to learn, and you’ll find the Hawaiian surf community to be one of the most welcoming in the world.

Historical Background: The Deep Roots of Hawaiian Surfing

As you embark on your quest to discover the best beaches in Hawaii for surfing, it’s essential to understand the origins of this mesmerizing sport.

Imagine paddling out to the lineup, with every stroke connecting you to a storied past that began with the Polynesian arrivals.

Centuries ago, long before the modern surfboards you’re familiar with, the ancient Polynesians were harnessing the power of the Hawaiian waves.

They didn’t just introduce surfing; they intertwined it with their way of life.

As you ride the waves on the best beaches in Hawaii for surfing, you’re essentially reliving a ritual that has been practiced for generations.

Now, fast forward to a more recent chapter in the history books, and you’ll find the legendary Duke Kahanamoku.

If the Polynesians laid the foundation, Duke, often fondly referred to as “The Father of Surfing,” built upon it.

His global influence cannot be understated.

Through his athletic prowess, especially his Olympic successes, Duke brought the allure of surfing from the Hawaiian shores to the world stage.

Every time you surf, especially on the best beaches in Hawaii for surfing, you’re also riding the waves of his legacy.

Embrace this history, and you’ll find each surf session to be a beautiful blend of past and present.

What is the best beach in Hawaii for surfing?

Oahu’s Ehukai Beach, home to the iconic Banzai Pipeline, is often regarded as one of the best surfing spots in Hawaii, especially for experienced surfers seeking thrilling waves.

Which Hawaiian island has best surfing?

Oahu, especially its North Shore, is renowned for offering some of the world’s best surfing spots, hosting iconic competitions and diverse waves catering to all skill levels.

Is surfing better in Oahu or Maui?

Both islands offer exceptional surfing experiences. Oahu, particularly the North Shore, is famed for its iconic surf competitions and challenging waves. Maui, on the other hand, boasts spots like Peahi (Jaws) for professionals and Hookipa Beach for windsurfing and beginners.

Is Maui or Kauai better for surfing?

While Maui features renowned spots like Peahi (Jaws) and Hookipa Beach, Kauai offers unique surf experiences at places like Hanalei Bay. The choice depends on individual preferences, with both islands catering to various skill levels.

Which Hawaiian island is best for beginner surfing?

Oahu’s Waikiki Beach is ideal for beginners, offering gentle waves and numerous surf schools. It’s a great spot to learn the basics of surfing in a picturesque setting.