The ocean is a beast that can’t be tamed, but that doesn’t stop many from grabbing their boards and riding out to catch the next wave. And few better places to do it exist than the Hawaiian Islands. Touted as being born on the very isles themselves, surfing in Hawaii isn’t just a pastime; it’s a tradition. Tourists, locals, and professionals gather on the shores of some of the best surfing spots in Hawaii to learn to surf, ride the waves, and challenge the very ocean itself.
Be sure to grab your board because you’ll be itching to plan your next surf trip to the Hawaiian Isles once you make it through this list of amazing surf spots.
Table of Contents
- What Hawaiian Island Has the Best Surfing?
- Where Is the Best Place for Beginner Surfers in Hawaii?
- What Beach in Hawaii Has the Best Waves?
- The 20 Best Surfing Spots in Hawaii
What Hawaiian Island Has the Best Surfing?
Surfing is just one of many bloodlines that ties the Hawaiian islands together. But the heart of Hawaiian surfing can only reside on one island, and that’s the king of sand and surf itself: Oahu. Offering spectacular waves off nearly every shore, Oahu delivers gentle swells, monster waves, and everything in between.
Oahu isn’t just home to the most surf spots for beginner and experienced surfers; it’s home to the most surf spots—period. Over a hundred dot the shores of one of Hawaii’s most beloved islands. If you’re just starting out, Oahu has more surf schools than any other to get you up and hanging ten in no time. Or, for the advanced surfers, the Seven Mile Miracle on Oahu’s north shore awaits.
Where Is the Best Place for Beginner Surfers in Hawaii?
Beginners can’t go wrong with the islands of Oahu or Maui. With some of the best surfing spots in Hawaii for beginners and plenty of surf schools, newcomers can learn the ropes and test their mettle on either island.
What may end up making the decision for some is the difference in experience. Along with the incredible surf on Oahu comes a thriving social and cultural scene that will likely call to many, while the stunning backdrops found on Maui may prove too good for others to pass up.
What Beach in Hawaii Has the Best Waves?
The swells in Oahu are the stuff of legends, and Ehukai Beach may claim the crown for being the most legendary of all. The beach is home to the epic Banzai Pipeline, which claims an average wave height of nine feet. However, that number can swell as high as 20 feet in the right conditions. Red Bull, which sponsors some epic surf competitions on the islands, classifies it as one of the deadliest waves in the world.
And as some consider it to be the birthplace of surfing, it’s hard to argue that a more ultimate surf spot exists in Hawaii.
The 20 Best Surfing Spots in Hawaii
The Hawaiian Islands boast some pristine surf, but it’s hard to argue against the four islands offering the best surfing spots in Hawaii. Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island claim unmatched surf and gorgeous beaches. So, whether it’s simple surf lessons you’re after or heart-pounding waves, here’s your guide to the best of Hawaii’s best surf spots.
Best Surf Spots in Oahu, Hawaii
Surfing in Hawaii is a thrill best experienced on Oahu. The Gathering Place beckons all to its shores, but surfers flock to the coast in droves to take advantage of the swells. From gentle breaks off Waikiki Beach to monstrous waves on the north shore, you can come to play, but Oahu certainly doesn’t.
1. Pua’ena Point Beach Park
Pua’ena has garnered a name for itself in the surfing community as one of the best surf spots for beginners and experts. When the waves aren’t too tall, beginners can take surfing lessons among the swells. But come high surf, Pua’ena Point is for experienced surfers only.
Fun fact: if you take a break from surfing the waves, you can visit the nearby Police Beach, where they filmed scenes from the famous TV show Lost.
2. Laniakea Beach (aka Turtle Beach)
Laniakea Beach is famous for two things: surfing and turtles. The latter is how it earned the nickname Turtle Beach, as beachgoers often catch sight of them basking in the sun. Turtle beach is a great spot to snap a prized pic; just remember to keep your distance!
Offshore, the waves are always calling. Laniakea Beach serves as the gateway to the north shore, and the winter months bring giant swells out on the water. While it doesn’t compare to the serious north shore standouts like the Banzai Pipeline or Sunset Beach, it’ll still give eager surfers a fun ride.
3. Waikiki Beach
Oahu’s Waikiki Beach is perfect for first-timers dipping their toes into the surf scene. With gentle crests, plenty of surf schools, and a bounty of stunning scenery, Waikiki Beach is one of the best surfing spots in Hawaii for newcomers. Years ago, the waves at Waikiki served as stomping grounds for the “Father of Surfing” himself, Duke Kahanamoku.
Once you’ve got some lessons under your belt, Canoes has idyllic surf conditions for beginners and whitewater waves. But it can get crowded, so if you’re looking to snag some waves for yourself, Publics’ small swells and less populated waves may be just the spot.
4. Chun’s Reef
Among the shallow reef, frothing surf, and towering waves of beaches like Pipeline and Waimea Bay lies a far less daunting north shore beach. Located just minutes from Haleiwa Beach Park, Chun’s Reef is named after a local surfer who often brought his kids to Chun’s when they couldn’t ride the more dangerous surf near their home.
As the story suggests, Chun’s Reef welcomes wave riders of all experience levels to enjoy the surf breaks, from beginners to more advanced surfers.
5. Diamond Head Cliffs
After you’ve graduated from the rolling waves found at Waikiki, intermediate surfers can give Cliffs a try. Located on Oahu’s south shore, Cliffs is a straight shot from the beach at Diamond Head Beach Park. Cliffs offers stunning views of the Diamond Head cliffside and, even better, chill waves to surf. Just be careful of drifting too close to the Diamond Head lighthouse. The rolling waves and shallow waters there are best tackled by intermediate surfers.
6. Seven Mile Miracle
Rather than choosing one single north shore star, we’re going to cheat a bit and include the whole Seven Mile Miracle. Yes, we know, it’s dramatic. But, as the name suggests, the seven-mile stretch of sand along Oahu’s north shore is a miracle of surf. The beaches along here are some of the most beautiful—and the most deadly.
Only the most experienced surfers can ride the waves. From the Vans Triple Crown held across Sunset Beach, Haleiwa Beach Park, and the Banzai Pipeline to the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational at Waimea Bay, the north shore isn’t for the faint of heart. That’s why we’ll leave the shallow reef and frothing surf at Pipeline, and the towering waves at Waimea Bay, to the professional surfers. After all, watching from the shore is its own heart-pumping thrill ride.
Best Surf Spots in Maui, Hawaii
The Valley Isle isn’t all lush greenery and cascading falls. Away from the jungle-like interior lies miles of beautiful beaches and thrilling surf breaks to tickle the fancy of budding surfers and seasoned pros alike. So, in Maui, don’t miss out on some of the best surfing spots in Hawaii.
7. Lahaina Harbor (Breakwall)
Lahaina doubles as a beginner’s paradise and a fun romp for more veteran surfers. The novice waves are easily accessible, while those with more experience can head for the Breakwall, where waves get a bit more exciting at two feet. In the summer, things can get a bit more chaotic, with large swells dominating the water. So on those days, new learners should steer clear. But the consistent waves at Lahaina make it a fan favorite for many.
8. Kihei Cove
Everyone has to start somewhere, and if you want a sure guarantee of constant waves and surf that’s not too strong, then the Cove in Kihei is one of the best surfing spots you can find. This little gem is tucked away in Kalama Beach Park, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better beginner’s surfing spot in Maui and maybe all of Hawaii. Some have likened it to a smaller Waikiki, and like Waikiki, the water can get crowded. So whether it’s for surf lessons or practicing solo, it’s best to head out early.
9. Kaanapali Beach
It doesn’t get much better than breathtaking scenery and choice surf, and Kaanapali delivers on both fronts. A beautiful sandy white beach and gorgeous sunsets combine with gentle waves and fun breaks to make it a top surf spot for rookies.
Even though it’s a popular surf spot, you won’t find only surfers out on the water here. Droves of beachcombers flock to Kaanapali’s shores for everything from sunbathing to parasailing.
Maui is home to some of the best beginner surfing spots in Hawaii and Guardrails is one of them. Named after the waves that break along the road’s guardrail, the white sandy beach is ideal for beginner and even intermediate surfers. Far from crowded, this secluded beach offers long, gentle waves and a friendly atmosphere that’ll make first-timers feel at home.
11. Launiupoko State Wayside Park
If you’re looking for an easy-going spot to fall flat on your face and receive no judgment, look no further. Launiupoko State Wayside Park is a beautiful beach in Lahaina on Maui’s north shore and is a premier spot for beginner surfing. Here, no one will bat an eye as you practice your skills among breaks that feel just right. Grab some tips from the local surfers, and you’ll be riding the waves like a pro in no time.
Best Surf Spots in Kauai, Hawaii
The Garden Isle doesn’t receive the same recognition or accolades as its sister isles, but the same perfect swells accompany Kauai’s raw beauty and unique shores. With 360-degree waves, your favorite surf spot in Kauai will likely change with the seasons. Go north in the winter for consistent surf, or head to the south shore to catch summer swells.
12. Hanalei Bay
Hawaii has no shortage of beautiful beaches, but you may need help finding a more mind-blowing surf spot than half-moon-shaped Hanalei Bay.
It truly checks every box. Beautiful scenery? Sandy shore? Brilliant waves? Check, check, and check. With towering mountains in the distance and plenty of beach at hand, the only thing to draw you away from the shore is the excellent swells out on the water. With three distinct breaks, all skill levels can have some fun at Hanalei Bay and soak in the magnificent views from the water.
13. Shipwreck Beach
Don’t let the name put you off this beach; it’s one of the best surfing spots in Hawaii. Named after an old shipwreck that used to sit nearby, Shipwreck Beach is for all thrill-seekers. Expert cliff jumpers delight in the 40-foot leap from Shipwrecks, while the solid intermediate surfer gets their kicks among the mighty surf that stirs up here.
14. Kiahuna Beach
Poipu Beach is arguably the most popular beach on the entire island of Kauai. It certainly makes an appearance among the best beaches in Hawaii, so it’s no surprise it has one of the best surfing spots too.
Just north of Poipu, novice surfers can feel like professionals as they easily navigate the gentle, rolling waves of Kiahuna. So if you require a confidence boost, this is the place for you. Or, if you have all the confidence you need, more expert surfers can head out to catch big waves beyond the reef.
15. Kalapaki Beach
Surfing in Hawaii all but guarantees beautiful views, and Kalapaki is no different. A crescent-shaped beach opens onto mountain views, protected waters, and all the convenience beachgoers could ask for. And the surf doesn’t disappoint either.
A large break wall protects the water from the rougher sea, leaving long, rolling waves that make Kalapaki a friendly surfing experience for the entire family. While the summer boasts the best surf conditions, surfers can ride the waves here year-round.
16. Kealia Beach
Exposed to the elements, the swells at Kealia Beach change with a turn of the wind. And when the winds get wild, so does the surf. But consistent waves make Kealia Beach one of the best surf spots on Kauai’s east end.
A shifting sandbar can make navigating the breaking surf challenging, and when the weather’s rough, it’s best for novices to stick to the shore and let the professional surfers ride the waves. But that doesn’t mean beginners are without options. A rock barrier buffering against the worst of the wind on the north end means beginners can still get in some practice on less turbulent waters.
Best Surf Spots in Big Island, Hawaii
Nicknamed the Big Island due to its sheer size, Hawaii Island is where people travel to see unique wonders: active volcanoes glowing in the dark, snow-capped peaks amid a tropical paradise, and black sand beaches dotted with palm trees. But for surfers, as always, the first love is the sea. And while the Big Island may have fewer beaches— and fewer surf spots—than its sister isles, it still delivers some of the best surfing spots in all of Hawaii.
17. Kahaluu Beach
People love Kahaluu Beach for many reasons. From swimming to surfing, beachcombers can enjoy hours in the water. And surfers of all skill levels do. Three distinct swells on the outside, middle of the bay, and nearer the shore make this Kona Coast beach a great surf spot for everyone.
Nestled among the Kona coast’s quiet beauty, Kahaluu’s ease of access and favorable southwest swells make it an ideal spot to catch some waves and drink in the sea—figuratively, of course.
A few miles south of downtown Kona sits one of the best year-round surfing spots on the Island of Hawaii. Depending on who you ask, Banyans gets its name from the Banyan trees along the beach or the local Banyan Hotel and Mart right on the shore of this iconic spot. But names matter little when the surf does all the talking.
Voted among the best waves of Hawaii, Banyans delivers powerful, barreling waves that are often hollow. Add on that waves are a sure thing no matter the time of year, and it’s the spot for wave riding in Kailua-Kona.
19. Honolii Beach Park
The Island of Hawaii’s best surfing spots are found on the east and west side, and Hilo’s Honolii Beach Park is a classic east-side hangout. Novice wave-riders, beware; it takes an experienced surfer to navigate the rips and roiling swells.
Locals know Honolii and all its headstrong traits well, so don’t be surprised if you find them riding the surf like they were born to it. Even if you don’t get a chance to catch a wave yourself, Honolii is an excellent spot to watch skilled boarders take on challenging waves.
20. Pine Trees
At Pine Trees, surfers don’t have to travel far to hit the surf. With available campgrounds on-site, eager surfers can go to sleep to the sound of crashing waves and head out to meet the swells at dawn. Gorgeous sunrises followed by quality surf? Sign us up, please. While winter is its busiest season, Pine Trees is surfable all year. So, book your camping permit, head down to the beach, and bask in the spectacular views and even more spectacular surf.