Last Updated on October 21, 2021

Hawaii and surfing go hand in hand. The rich traditions of surfing in Hawaii can be traced as far back as the fourth century.

Furthermore, Hawaii is home to many of the best places to surf on earth, with all islands offering something for beginners.

In Hawaii, iconic breaks and bucket list experiences abound for those that can handle burly barrels. If you’re dreaming of surfing in the Aloha State, read on for the 10 best places for surfing in Hawaii.

Oahu, Hawaii

Known for its iconic North Shore, Oahu is home to stunning sugar-sand beaches and burly surf. If the world of surf has a spiritual home, it would be right here. Come for the epic breaks and stick around for the picture-perfect views.

1. Ehukai Beach Park

On Oahu’s famous North Shore, Ehukai Beach Park is the place to go for the legendary Banzai Pipeline.

The enormous pipeline will be on any experienced surfer’s bucket list, which is why you’ll often find some of the world’s most talented surfers try their wares right here.

The beach’s shallow reefs help to create the perfect waves but are unforgiving for those that lose balance, with many surfboards broken and injuries common.

Nevertheless, the pipeline’s sublime barrels make for memorable entertainment from the safe confines of the beach.

Time your arrival to coincide with the Pipeline Masters, while in the summer the surfing paradise turns into a perfect place for snorkeling.

2. Sunset Beach

This is a fantastic sport for classic surfing and it’s a surf location that has captivated the hearts and minds of locals for decades.

Home to the Vans World Cup competition, Sunset Beach remains popular thanks to the beautiful, hollow swells, not to mention offering some of the best sunsets on Oahu.

The waves reach their zenith in the winter months, which sees big wave surfers descend upon the beach.

In the summer, the surf dies down, leading the way for snorkelers to explore Sunset Beach’s colorful underwater world.

At its peak, the surfing on sunset Beach is for those with advanced skills, and you will need to be a strong paddler.

However, those that brave the sometimes wayward surf are rewarded with an incredible right-hand reef break.

3. Waikiki

If you are a beginner or intermediate surfer, there are still plenty of fantastic breaks to experience when on Oahu. Waikiki is home to several, including Canoes and Diamond Head Cliffs.

Canoes is on the South Shore, the waves here are on the simpler and slow side, perfect for those starting out or trying to dust off the rust.

Diamond Head is home to several breaks that are for all levels. Cliffs offer calmer breaks, especially at the beginning and end of the day.

Afterward, stick around for some of the best dining and nightlife on Oahu.

Maui

Although Oahu holds claim to being the home of big wave surfing in Hawaii, Maui comes with crystal clear waters with vibrant reefs and curious sea turtles.

The size of the island means it is easy to get to different breaks, even if they’re on the other side of Maui.

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A Surfing Life

4. Honolua Bay

Described by legendary surfer Mark Richards as ‘the best wave in the world’, Honolua Bay is one of the best places for surfing in Hawaii.

The surf here is powered by the shallow reef and offers a perfect hollow breakpoint.

As the best spot to surf on Maui, Honolua Bay is often packed with excited surfers keen to get out on the advanced break. For this reason, an early start is a must so you can get the worm.

With a strong current and gnarly reef, this spot is one for experienced surfers.

Once you have gotten your ride in, cool off with a round at the beautiful Kapalua Golf Course.

5. Lahaina

As one of the best places to learn how to surf in Hawaii, there’s no better place to be a grom (beginner surfer) than at Lahaina.

Providing newbie surfers with a soft, peeling reef break, you will quickly gain your footing on the forgiving waves.

For this reason, you will often see surf schools set up shop on the breaks.

The consistent surf also makes Lahaina popular with intermediate and experienced surfers who want to enjoy a beautiful surf, especially as the sun goes down.

Keep in mind that low tide exposes the sharp reef beneath the surface.

Kauai

Owing to the fantastic selection of surf spots that are great for all abilities, it should come as no surprise that Kauai has produced some fabled surfers.

The year-round surf and powder-white beaches make the island a popular surfing destination at any time of year.

6. Kiahuna Beach

Found on Kauai’s southeast coast, Kiahuna Beach connects to the famous Poipu Beach. The diverse sets of waves mean it is a popular beach for surfers of all skill levels.

Novice surfers will appreciate the simpler breaks closer to shore. As you get further out, the surfing becomes increasingly intense, especially once you are out past the reef.

Off the surfboard, Kiahuna Beach is close to several world-class resorts, fantastic dining, and beach-side nightlife. While the reef that powers the popular surf break is great for snorkeling.

Surfing in Honolulu
Surfing in Honolulu

7. Hanalei Bay

Not only will you find exceptional breaks for all skill levels at Hanalei Bay, but also stunning scenery.

The half-moon bay is easy on the eyes, coated with white sand, and, depending on the time of year, can offer the best chance for big surf on Kauai.

The winter brings 30-foot swells to King’s Reef and 20-foot waves to Queen’s Reef.

Beginner surfers can still experience the fun at Hanalei thanks to the moderate surf near the pier, which comes with knee-high heights.

Hanalei is also a brilliant spot for an early morning surf as the water glistens like glass under the rising sun.

Big Island

Without the iconic beaches and surf spots of the other islands on this beach, Big Island is often overshadowed.

But if you find yourself here and want to get out on the water, there are several fun breaks that often come with lower crowds.

8. Pine Trees

Depending on where you are on this beach, Pine Trees has something to offer for all levels of experience.

The main section is for intermediate to experienced surfers while the bay area has calmer breaks, perfect for those still finding their way.

Despite the name, you won’t find any pine trees here, but you will need a 4WD to access the beach.

For this reason, you will have plenty of room on the breaks. Once you’re back on land, Pine Trees is one of the best spots to barbecue on the Kona Coast.

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Lonely Planet Best of Hawaii (Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Best of Hawaii (Travel Guide)
Fodor's Essential Hawaii (Full-color Travel Guide)
Fodor's Essential Hawaii (Full-color Travel Guide)
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9. Honolii Beach Park

Known as one of the most common spots to watch surf pros on Big Island, Honolii Beach Park is home to the most consistent advanced surfing on the island.

The rocky bottom and strong current can make it treacherous at times, but there is a lifeguard on duty throughout the year.

Where some surf in Hawaii becomes tamer over summer, Honolii Beach Park reaches its peak during these months.

If a break you love is winding down, consider heading to one of the more underrated places to surf in Hawaii.

Some of Hawaii’s most iconic breaks may only come to life during the winter months, however, throughout the year there is some amazing surfing to be had.

While Oahu and Kauai are two popular spots, Maui and even Big Island have much to offer surfers of all abilities.

Splendid news, for those who dream of learning to surf in Hawaii, and experienced riders excited to try a fresh break.

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