Best time to surf Hawaii

Hawaii, a name synonymous with surfing, beckons enthusiasts from every corner of the globe. Renowned for its crystal-clear waters, perfect waves, and vibrant surfing culture, the islands offer a surfing paradise unlike any other. With its unique geographical position, Hawaii provides year-round surfing possibilities, catering to every skill level and preference.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro looking to challenge the towering winter waves on Oahu’s North Shore or a beginner seeking the gentle summer swells in Maui, Hawaii’s varied conditions mean there’s always a perfect spot for everyone. The islands’ diverse coastlines and seasonal shifts make pinpointing the best time to surf Hawaii an exciting quest for the ultimate ride.

Winter Surfing: November to February

During the winter months, from November to February, the Hawaiian Islands become a magnet for surf enthusiasts seeking the thrill of large, challenging waves. This period is widely regarded as the best time to surf Hawaii for those who dare to take on the ocean’s might.

North Shore of Oahu: The Epicenter of Surfing

The North Shore of Oahu stands out as the crown jewel of winter surfing in Hawaii. Renowned for its massive, world-class waves, this stretch becomes a bustling hub of activity and excitement. Places like Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay set the stage for some of the most spectacular surfing in the world. The area is not just known for its waves but also for hosting prestigious competitions, where the best surfers showcase their skills, making it a must-visit for anyone chasing the best surfing in Hawaii.

Maui’s Mighty Winter Swells

Maui, too, has its winter wonders. The island’s North Shore attracts surfers with its impressive swells, particularly around spots like Honolua Bay. Here, experienced surfers can find the powerful waves they crave, all set against the backdrop of Maui’s stunning scenery. The winter months undoubtedly mark the best time to surf Hawaii for those seeking the exhilarating challenge that Maui’s waves offer.

Kauai’s Untamed North Shore

Kauai, often referred to as the “Garden Isle,” reveals its wild side during winter. The North Shore here, though less crowded, is no less impressive. With spots like Hanalei Bay, surfers can experience the raw power of the ocean in a more secluded setting. The large, rolling waves of Kauai’s coastline provide an intense experience for those skilled enough to navigate them.

Winter in Hawaii is a time of grandeur and excitement in the surfing world. The islands’ North Shores awaken with the swells, offering experienced surfers the powerful waves and dynamic conditions they seek. It’s a season marked by thrilling rides, competitive spirit, and the awe-inspiring force of nature, all contributing to the reputation of Hawaii as the ultimate surfing destination.

Summer Surfing: May to September

As the summer months roll in from May to September, the Hawaiian Islands present a different face of surfing. This time is often considered the best time to surf Hawaii for beginners and longboarders due to the smaller, more consistent waves found on the South Shores of Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island.

South Shore of Oahu: A Beginner’s Paradise

The South Shore of Oahu becomes a haven for those just starting their surfing journey. Spots like Waikiki offer gentle, rolling waves that are ideal for beginners to find their balance and hone their skills. The welcoming spirit and picturesque setting make it a favored destination for families and longboard enthusiasts seeking the best surfing beaches in Hawaii.

Maui’s Gentle Summer Swells

In Maui, the summer swells bring joy to surfers looking for a more relaxed experience. Areas like Kihei and the beaches around Lahaina, including the popular Kaanapali, provide consistent waves that are perfect for longboarding and novice surfers. The clear, warm waters and the scenic backdrop of Maui’s coast make each surf session as visually stunning as it is enjoyable.

Big Island’s Summer Surf

The Big Island, known for its diverse climates and landscapes, also offers excellent summer surfing. The best beaches in Hawaii for surfing during these months are often found on the island’s South Shore, where the waves are more forgiving and conducive to learning and leisurely longboarding.

Embracing the Summer Conditions

Summer in Hawaii is not just about the surf; it’s about the experience. The warmer, sunnier conditions and the gentler seas make for an inviting environment. Whether you’re catching your first wave or cruising along the water on a longboard, summer provides an opportunity to enjoy the ocean at a more relaxed pace. It’s a time when families, friends, and solo adventurers can all find their perfect spot in the surf and soak in the beauty of Hawaii.

In summary, summer offers a stark contrast to the fierce winter waves, presenting the best time to surf Hawaii for those looking for a milder, more consistent surfing experience. It’s a season that embodies the spirit of aloha, welcoming all to enjoy the warm waters and friendly waves of Hawaii’s South Shores.

Transition Months: March, April, October, November

The transition months of March, April, October, and November hold a special place in the surfing calendar. They represent a time of change and unpredictability in the ocean, which can surprisingly turn into the best time to surf Hawaii for those who prefer a more solitary experience with potentially excellent conditions.

Unpredictable Swells

During these months, the ocean is in a state of transition, moving between the ferocious winter waves and the gentle summer swells. This shift results in an unpredictable surf, where one day might offer calm seas and the next could surprise with a sudden swell. It’s a time when the islands’ varied coastlines can receive waves from different directions, creating unique surfing conditions that are not usually seen at other times of the year.

Hidden Opportunities for Great Surf

The unpredictable nature of these months doesn’t deter the keen surfer; instead, it presents a thrilling opportunity. The potential for excellent surfing conditions is often high, as the shifting weather patterns can generate unexpected but fantastic waves. For those willing to keep a close eye on surf reports and local conditions, the transition months can offer some of the most memorable and exciting surfing experiences.

Fewer Crowds, More Space

Another advantage of surfing during these months is the decrease in crowds. With fewer tourists and casual surfers, the beaches and surf spots are less crowded, offering a more relaxed atmosphere for those in the water. This decrease in competition for waves means more opportunities to catch the perfect ride and enjoy the surf at a leisurely pace.

Embracing the Unpredictability

Surfers who embrace the unpredictable nature of these months often find themselves rewarded with excellent surf conditions and the space to truly enjoy them. It’s a time for spontaneity, for waking up and reading the ocean’s mood, and for taking advantage of the waves as they come. While it may not be the best time to surf Hawaii for those who prefer guaranteed conditions, it offers a unique appeal to those who seek adventure and the thrill of the unexpected.

In conclusion, the transition months in Hawaii are a time of change, offering a different kind of surfing experience that can range from quietly enjoyable to unexpectedly exhilarating. With the potential for excellent conditions and fewer crowds, they represent an underrated but potentially fantastic time to surf in the islands.

Regional Breakdown

When considering the best time to surf Hawaii, it’s crucial to understand the unique characteristics of each island’s surfing spots. Here’s a regional breakdown focusing on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island, highlighting the contrasting surf conditions throughout the year.

Oahu: A Tale of Two Shores

  • North Shore in Winter: The North Shore is world-famous for its massive winter waves, attracting experienced surfers and spectators alike. Iconic spots like Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay offer some of the most challenging and thrilling surfing in the world.
  • South Shore in Summer: In contrast, the South Shore is known for its more gentle, long-rolling summer waves, perfect for beginners and longboarders. Waikiki, with its picturesque setting and friendly waves, epitomizes the summer surfing scene on Oahu.

Maui: Seasonal Surfing Havens

  • Winter at Honolua Bay: Honolua Bay is a prime spot for winter surfing in Maui, offering large and perfectly shaped waves that experienced surfers dream of.
  • Summer in Kihei: The Kihei area provides a stark contrast with smaller, more manageable waves during summer, making it an ideal spot for those just starting or looking to enjoy a relaxed surf session.

Kauai: Diverse Surfing Experiences

  • Hanalei Bay in Winter: During winter, Hanalei Bay on Kauai’s North Shore is known for its large, beautiful waves that provide an exhilarating challenge to surfers.
  • Poipu in Summer: Come summer, the focus shifts to Poipu on the South Shore, where the surf is more accessible and suited to a wider range of skill levels, offering pleasant conditions for all.

Big Island: A Mix of Unpredictability and Charm

  • Hilo’s Unpredictable Nature: The Hilo side of the Big Island is known for its unpredictability, with conditions that can change rapidly, offering a mix of challenges and surprises for surfers.
  • Kona’s Summer Spots: The Kona side, however, tends to be more consistent, especially in summer, with spots that offer enjoyable surfing for beginners and intermediate surfers.

This regional breakdown provides a snapshot of what surfers can expect on each island. Whether it’s the dramatic winter waves of Oahu’s North Shore or the gentle summer swells of Kona, Hawaii offers a diverse range of surfing experiences. Each island has its unique charm and challenges, making the best time to surf Hawaii a personal choice depending on one’s preferences and skill level.

Practical Advice

When planning your surfing adventure in Hawaii, it’s essential to keep a few key pieces of advice in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Checking Local Surf Reports

Before heading out, always check the local surf reports. They provide critical information about wave conditions, tides, wind, and potential hazards. Being informed can make the difference between an unforgettable session and a challenging day at sea.

Respecting the Ocean and Local Culture

The ocean is a powerful and sometimes unpredictable force. Respect it by understanding your limits and being aware of your surroundings. Additionally, surfing in Hawaii is deeply connected to the local culture. Respect the traditions, the locals, and their surf etiquette. Take the time to learn about the area and interact with the community with humility and openness.


Finding the best time to surf Hawaii depends on your skill level, preferences, and the unique characteristics of each island. Whether you’re braving the colossal winter waves of the North Shore or enjoying the summer swells in Kihei, Hawaii offers a world-class surfing experience.

Remember, the best times and places vary: Oahu’s North Shore in winter, Maui’s Honolua Bay, Kauai’s Hanalei Bay, and the Big Island’s Kona spots each have their moments of glory. But no matter when or where you choose to surf, always approach the ocean with respect and an understanding of your abilities.

We encourage all surfers to enjoy Hawaii’s legendary waves responsibly. Embrace the spirit of aloha, respect the local culture and environment, and you’ll find that the best time to surf Hawaii is not just about the waves, but also about the incredible journey and connections you make along the way.