The origins of surfing began in Hawaii.
The islands' perfect location so far from any other landmass gives it truly astounding wave patterns you just can't find anywhere else. With swells suitable for beginners all the way through professionals, Hawaii is the ideal place to catch a wave no matter what your experience level.
Hawaii is a unique landmass sitting in a geographically isolated position. In every direction, the currents of the Pacific are winding up storms winds to generate world class waves.
Below is a list of the best places to surf Hawaii.
Surf Hawaii: Oahu
Oahu is famous for its epic North Shore beaches. It's the absolute home base to surf Hawaii. Not only is it beautiful, it offers up some massive waves.
Ehukai Beach Park (North Shore, Oahu)
Straight out from the parking lot of the same name, are several shifting peaks that work on everything from a west to a wind swell wrap from the east. Sandy bottom is scattered with rocks. Generally a good place to come if you are beyond a beginner, but still getting used to things.
Home to the famous Banzai Pipeline, Ehukai Beach is impressive, but it's super dangerous for those uninitiated into North Shore surfing.
Ehukai is just up the road from a couple surf shops, restaurants, and water adventure companies. The pipeline is to the left when you walk out to the beach. The waves give you everything from an eastern wind swell wrap to shifting western peaks.
Definitely not for beginners, Ehukai's shifting conditions and enormous pipeline make it best for experienced or pro surfers.
Great place to get the feel of Oahu’s North Shore.
Laniakea (North Shore, Oahu)
On a big north, Lani’s is a freight train right that can connect for an extremely long, fast ride, with four or five makeable sections. Deep water wave, but still barrels with the right conditions. Consistent with any swell that has a bit of north in it; doesn’t work at all on pure west swells.
Probably the best place to surf if you aren't from the area. As local in Hawaii can get turfy. So if you want to avoid childish confrontations, just surf here. This spot is next to Kam Hwy as you head east from Hale’iwa.
Backyards (North Shore, Oahu)
Snuggled between Sunset Beach and Velzyland, Backyards is a brutal yet rewarding stretch of reef-filled surf on Oahu's North Shore.
Backyards is a fast wave for advanced surfers. It has a steep wall and a shallow reef to watch out for. Swells from any direction activate this spot. However it works best on a NorthWest swell. Yes, if can get very big here. These waves are fast. Look out for the shallow reef and steep wall that can get over 50 feet high. But you don't ever have to worry too much about crowds.
Backyards are close to all the local surf shops and restaurants.
Velzyland (North Shore, Oahu)
Everything considered, Velzyland is extremely high risk of a spot to surf Hawaii. Shallow water over an extremely sharp reef. You need to be at an advanced level to surf Hawaii here. Not only advanced, but know everything about this area.
This marks the end of the “seven mile miracle,” the opposite end being Haleiwa’s Ali’i Beach Park. Park along Kam Hwy, and walk through the gate at Sunset Beach Colony.
Sunset (North Shore, Oahu)
Sunset Beach is a surfing classic on the North Shore. Sunset is super close to North Shore favorites like North Shore Surf Shop. Watch out for wayward western waves. It offers surreal, hollow swells from the inside. Like other North Shore surf spots, Sunset Beach is best if you've got some experience under your belt and are a strong paddler.
Sunset is one of the most fabled right hand points there is, and thus attracts surfers from around the world. In that sense, you can surf it without worry (crowd-wise) if you let your hyper-paddling habits subside. Surely not a wave to be taken lightly though, even at a playful three feet Hawaiian. The wave turns very fast and hollow as it emerges and walls up quick from deep water.
You need some length and paddling strength in your board here. There are thick waves which are challenging to get into.
Diamond Head Cliffs (South Shore, Oahu)
On Oahu's south shore, famed volcano Diamond Head monopolizes the horizon. At its base, surfers of all experience levels can enjoy the waves. Diamond Head State Monument is just behind the beach, and Honolulu is just up the road.
The swells are pretty calm early in the morning and in the late afternoon with some larger, faster moving waves midday.
Diamond Head Cliffs is one of those rare spots that caters to beginners and advanced surfers who want to surf Hawaii.
Canoes (South Shore, Oahu)
This is the starting point for the Waikiki surf adventure, and the rest of the south shore as well. Every surfer must come at least once if they want to get the full experience as they surf Hawaii. While generally a friendly wave, this whole shore many times in the summer.
On the south shore you can surf fifteen different spots in a single session
Perfect for beginners learning how to surf.
Surf Hawaii: Maui
While Oahu's North Shore is the big name in Hawaiian surfing, surf Hawaii in Maui for a few awesome beaches and surf spots.
1. Honolua Bay
Honolua is Maui's most popular place to surf Hawaii. It's usually crowded with both tourists and locals, so be ready for crowds if you plan to surf Hawaii here.
This spot is best for advanced surfers prepared to do battle with a strong current and shallow reef line.
Honolua is one of the magical waves of the world, a flawless right point that seems to peel into infinity – when you happen to catch one.
Somewhat sheltered from the islands to the north, the swell window here is smaller than most other spots, and thus it works much less often; best on a big NNW swell. The trades that plague most of the rest of Maui, work fine here, to make a consistent side-offshore breeze. Again, when you connect one, the wave is simply magical.
Park on the bluff above, follow someone out.
2. Launiupoko State Wayside Park
Launiupoko State Wayside Park is a fantastic place to learn how to surf Hawaii. It's a popular spot for those just learning how to surf. The long reef waves break right and left for relatively consistent lines and lips.
This surf spot is perfect for new surfers, but it's also great for more advanced surfers looking for a relaxing time on the water.
3. The Cove at Kalama Beach Park
This beautiful, well-protected cove offers relatively consistent and dependable swells, perfect for newbies. It's a popular spot on the western side of the island. The shallow cove has low, easy-to-manage waves year-round that break both right and left.
The Cove is best for brand new surfers or beginners since the waves are small and the water is shallow.
Hookipa (Paia, Maui)
Between Haiku and Paia is Maui’s most consistent waves to surf Hawaii at. All the various peaks can be seen from the bluff along the Hana Hwy heading east from Paia. The most hierarchical spot is Pavillions, the right that comes off the far east point; otherwise, there is much range of skill found in the lineups of the other peaks; still, keep respect.
Catches everything from the big WNW’s to the easterly windswells. Very exposed to the wind, so get up early before the wind does, and then hit it again late in the afternoon; with Kona winds, you score! Park in the parking lot below the bluff, and follow someone else into the water (and out).
Surf Hawaii: Kauai
Kauai's surfing spots are seasonal, with the north end of the island a great choice for the winter months and the south end ideal for the summer. Top-notch surfers hail from Kauai, including Any Irons.
1. Kiahuna Beach
On the south end of the island, Kiahuna Beach is part of the larger Poipu Beach. It's optimal for surfers of varying skill levels since the surf changes out past the reef.
Nearby are a number of restaurants, resorts, and other attractions. You'll have many things to do once you are done surfing for the day.
A large reef runs along the coastline, just off the beach. Between the beach and reef, the waves are small and consistent while past the reef, things get more intense.
Newbies should stick to the shallower area while advanced surfers can ride big swells past the reef.
2. Hanalei Bay
With varied waves, a gorgeous background, and bay protected wave consistency, Hanalei Bay should be top of your list of places to surf Hawaii in Kauai.
This is maybe the only wave on Kauai that you are allowed to mention in a public arena. Lucky for us, it’s a great wave, a peeling right point that works on most winter swell directions. Good fun when it’s smaller to grab a longboard and go make friends in the lineup – then you might find out about those other waves around the way. The bay here is pristine, and so is the town by the same name. On the far north east side of the point, towards the Princeville. Can get very big, and very good.
The large half-moon bay is within walking distance of multiple bars and restaurants. Hanalei has three disparate areas, each suitable for different types of surfers. Depending on where you are in the water, you can ride a vareity of waves.
This is the ideal spot for all surfers since the waves are so diverse.
3. Shipwreck Beach
Shipwreck Beach, located on the south side of the island, offers gorgeous views and some gnarly surfing opportunities. This beach is just in front of the luxurious Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Shipwreck Beach is much less crowded than some of the others on Kauai because of its rocky terrain. The waves are large and aggressive.
Shipwreck is best for intermediate to advanced surfers who are ready for the pounding surf.
Hawaiian surfing is one of the best experiences you'll have. Just make sure you have the most fun by knowing your own surf abilities. Which is one of the key beginner surfing tips, sticking to a surf spot you'll be safest at.