Maui offers surfing lessons at less intimidating spots in West Maui and South Maui in Kaanapali, Lahaina and Kihei for first time surfers. If balance is a challenge for you, consider stand-up paddle boarding, which uses larger boards and a paddle to propel and balance yourself. Other great spots for beginners are Waikiki inner breaks (Oahu), Hanalei Beach (Kauai) and Kahaluu Beach Park (Big Island).
Surf’s Always Up Here
Once reserved for island royalty only, Hawaii’s original sport, Surfing, or “hee nalu,” is now accessible to all.
In the early 20th century, legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku introduced the sport to the world at large. In the 1950s, the North Shore's Waimea Bay became the birthplace of big wave surfing. You can watch the pros navigating the big ones between November and February when many competitions are held.
If you want to give surfing a try, you can take lessons on almost every island. Lessons usually run between 1-2 hours and are taught by experienced surfers in gentle breaks on longboards to make it easier for first-timers to get up and ride their first wave.
If you’re already comfortable on a board, test your skills at the birthplace of surfing: Waikiki. Get your shortboard out, head out past the beginners for the big waves, and take in the view of Diamond Head as you ride that tube. On other islands look for Hookipa (Maui), Hanalei Beach in Kauai, which has different levels, and Honolii on the Big Island.
Maui’s most famous surf spot for big wave surfing, Peahi, is also known by the intimidating moniker "Jaws”. To get beyond the swells, surfers are towed into Peahi’s massive waves by jet-skis. Other life-challenging swells include the Banzai Pipeline (Oahu), Lymans (Big Island) and Rock Quarry Beach (Kauia).
Keep a low center of gravity. Maintain a low center of gravity in the surf line by bending your knees because staying low will increase your stability and will help you gain speed.
Learn to pick the right wave. Watch for the highest sections when a wave appears on the horizon. If the wave line is leveled, it will be closing out.
Your eyes are your steering wheel. Move your head towards your next goal. Set a target with your eyes and get there fast.
Although most beaches on the Big Island are best suited for experienced surfers, there are a few spots that cater to beginners and intermediate-level riders.
Maui has it’s share of famous surf spots and great places to learn surfing.
Kauai’s Anahola Beach Park is a local favorite because it has something suitable for everyone.
For those looking for big waves—but not the monsters that roll into Oahu’s North Shore—check out local favorite Oahu surfing spot Pops in Waikiki.
"Surfing is a sport and a way of life. There is no better place for it than Hawaii. So many breaks to choose from, so many waves to ride."