The Best Surfing in the Hawaiian Islands (For All Skill Levels)

Surfing in Kona.

Surfing in Kona. Photo © Montse PB, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Legendary Olympic gold medalist swimmer, original beachboy, and ambassador of aloha Duke Kahanamoku introduced surfing to the world. Be part of that legacy by getting on a board during your stay.

Whether you’re a first-timer or a lifer, year-round surf means you’ll find the perfect wave for you.


O‘ahu

Populars and Paradise

Once you’re comfortable with your feet in the wax, paddle out to Populars and Paradise for longer rides on Waikiki’s outer reefs.

Canoes

No stay in Waikiki is complete without surfing this famous break. The slow-rolling wave is fun whether it’s your first time or you can hang ten.

Chun’s Reef

A beautiful right breaking point on the North Shore, this slow-breaking wave is perfect for beginners and even has small waves occasionally during the summertime.


Kaua‘i

Kalapaki Beach

Much like the friendly waves in Waikiki, Kalapaki Beach has soft waves that break just offshore. It’s perfect for surf lessons.

Po‘ipu Beach Park

On the west end of Po‘ipu Beach Park, in front of the rock outcropping, is Lemon Drops, a great wave for beginners. It breaks right and left and washes into deeper water, so you don’t have to worry about hitting bottom.


Maui

Launiupoko Beach Park

Lahaina locals learn to ride their first waves at this happening beach park. There are multiple peaks for longboarders to choose from.

Lahaina Breakwall

Crowded, shallow, and always sunny, this breakwall is dominated by surf schools on the inside reef, while advanced surfers hang on the outside. While most days are calm with gentle surf, this becomes an advanced spot on the large south swells of summer.

The Cove

This is the epicenter of the Kihei surf scene. The shallow, protected cove is home to the south side’s numerous surf schools.

Pohaku Beach Park (S-Turns)

A longboarder’s dream, S-Turns is Maui’s most user-friendly winter break. The long paddle out means a long ride in. This rolling, forgiving wave is the perfect spot for honing your skills.

O‘ahu

Ala Moana Bowls and Kaisers

Some of the best waves on the south shore are along a strip of reef in front of the Ala Moana Small Boat Harbor. Kaisers is a barreling right that breaks in extremely shallow water over sharp reef and Ala Moana Bowls is a long, fast left that local surfers keep under lock and key, coveting every barrel.

Sunset Beach

This powerful and unforgiving wave on the North Shore is famous for separating the experts from the herd. The right boards, the right frame of mind, and stamina are a must to surf the heaving walls of water that break along Sunset Beach.

Makaha

Makaha is a predominant right-hand point break on the leeward side of O‘ahu, famous for its powerful surf, the characters in the lineup, and its backwash close to shore. Makaha breaks nearly all year long, on south, west, and north swells, and sees gigantic waves during the winter.


Kaua‘i

Hanalei Bay

This right hand point break is a long, beautiful wave that attracts surfers from all over the island. Shortboarders prefer to surf further up the point, while longboarders and stand-up paddlers like the end section that breaks into the channel. Hanalei is generally a wintertime break.


Maui

Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay is a place of local legend. During winter, this can be one of the best right-hand waves in the world. If you respect local surfers and wait your turn in the lineup, there’s a chance you could snag a wave that makes your entire vacation worth it.

Ho‘okipa Beach Park

This popular break is the center of the Pa‘ia surf scene. During the large swells of winter this becomes an experts-only amphitheater of towering 20-foot surf.

Pa‘ia Bay

Walking distance from the center of town is one of Maui’s only real beach breaks, best for shortboarding and bodyboarding.


The Big Island

Honoli‘i Beach Park

Located just outside of Hilo, Honoli‘i offers the best waves in the region. There are several different breaks depending on the swell direction. Since it sits at a river mouth, the water is cold compared to most beaches.

Pine Trees

One of the most famous surf breaks on Kona Coast, Pine Trees is one of the best high-performance waves in the region.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.

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