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Surfing in Hawaii - Which spots on which island?

Points of interest in this article

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Hawaii and surfing - that simply belongs together. And not by chance. The natives of Hawaii probably discovered surfing over 3000 years ago. No wonder, almost all beaches of the Hawaiian Islands invite you to surf. Many of them have become an international hotspot for surfers with their dreamlike waves. Probably every professional surfer dreams of the meter-high waves at the legendary North Shore in Oahu – zu Spitzenzeiten werden die schon einmal 9 Meter hoch. Aber auch, wer zum ersten Mal auf dem Brett steht, findet auf Hawaii perfekte Bedingungen: Am Waikiki Beach oder bei Lahaina reihen sich Surfschulen, um in dir die Leidenschaft fürs Surfen zu wecken! Ganz klar – Oahu ist das Surfmekka der Hawaiiinseln. Aber auch die anderen Vulkaninseln bieten beste Voraussetzungen.

Doch bevor wir dir von den Top-Surfspots berichten, möchten wir dich auf deinen Surfurlaub vorbereiten.

What can you do to prepare for your surf trip?

Burpees as a perfect workout to prepare for your surf vacation

Surfing requires not only technique but also strength. Burpees are the perfect preparation to train for surfing. They help you with the "take-off", the moment when you stand up from lying on the board.

How do you practice burpees?

Burpees are full-body exercises that are a combination of (usually) three fitness exercises performed in a fluid motion. First, you position into a squat, place both your palms on the floor, jump into a push-up, then jump forward (again into a squat) and into a stretch jump with your arms up. Repeat the exercise several times depending on your training level. Burpee training increases both your speed and strength. 

Swimming also helps to prepare for surfing

It seems obvious that swimming can prepare you well for surfing. In addition to breaststroke, you should train the crawl to develop the necessary strength in the back and arm muscles for paddling. Another positive effect is that you improve your fitness. 

Yoga as a perfect addition

Yoga in Lanikai Big Island

Many surfers already know: Yoga is the optimal preparation for surfing. Besides the physical flexibility and strength that the exercises (in yoga called Asanas ), yoga also trains your concentration and mental strength. Yoga brings body and mind to balance. Many surf camps today offer a combination of surfing and yoga, precisely for these reasons. 

From the North Shore to Waikiki Beach: Oahu's Surfing Paradises

No other place in the world competes better with pro surfers! Oahu's North Shore offers over 11 km with giant wave opportunities. In winter, the beaches are in peak season, when the meter-high waves break close to the shore. Three spots are the main spots of the surfing competitions: In Waimea Bay , the Quicksilver Surf Contest takes place between February and December in memory of the surfing legend Eddie Aikau. As a beginner, I recommend the summer months to try the shallow waves. But leave the surfing to the pros during the stormy winter months at Waimea Bay! Number 2 on the North Shore: The Ehukai Beach, named from surfers in Banzai Pipeline If you already had a few surfing lessons, you can try your luck here. But don't expect a quiet place to surf: The Ehukai Beach and the nearby Sunset Beach are extremely popular with surfers. My tip to experience the North Shore as a beginner: Laniakea Beach. Rather calm waves and sandy seafloors make surfing here very pleasant. Not far away are two surf spots that are quite risky even for professionals: At Jockos Point and Chun’s Reef In addition to the perfect waves, a strong current and sharp rocks in the water make for a less enjoyable experience.

surf oahu 1 Big Island

Oahu can also be different! Waikiki Beach doesn't only mean one luxury hotel after another but the gentle waves here are the best way to begin surfing. Surf schools like the Hawaiian Fire Surf School or the Kai Sallas' Pro Surf School fill the streets in Honolulu's most famous neighbourhood. The top surfers teach everyone how to surf! To avoid the overcrowded hotspots, I advise you to visit Castles on the East Coast. A beautiful stretch of beach that is not quite as crowded as the North Shore or Waikiki Beach. Especially in summer, you can surf the Pacific in peace and quiet. Castles is known for its long waves: The legendary Duke Kahanamoku once surfed a mile long wave here!

Surfboards waikiki 1 Big Island

Surfing Beaches in Oʻahu - Overview:

Surf Contests on Oahu:

  • „VVTCS“  –  (4 events that are connected. During the first contest, you can qualify and the following 3 are the main events). The events take place from November to December and take about 7 weeks.
    1. Vans Pro (HIC Pro) - Sunset Beach (Qualification)
    2. Hawaiian Pro - Hale'iwa Ali'i Beach Park
    3. Vans World Cup - Sunset Beach
    4. Billabong Pipe Masters - Ehukai Beach Park Banzai Pipeline
  • "The Eddie" - Big wave surf contest in memory of Hawaii's surfing legend Eddie Aikau. It takes place at Waimea Bay (North Shore) when the waves are high enough between December and February. The contest started in 1984 but has only been held 9 times because the conditions were not always right. 
  • "Volcom Pipe Pro" - Between January and February, Banzai Pipeline, Ehukai Beach Park
  • "Da Hui Backdoor Shootout" Surf Competition Hawaii North Shore, Banzai Pipeline, Ehukai Beach Park

Big Island: Kahaluu Bay in the west and Honolii in the east

Enough wanderlust for Oahu. Let's get to Big Island! The main island of Hawaii offers two particularly great spots for surfing: The Kahaluu Beach Park belongs to Kona and is very popular with newcomers and locals with its gentle waves. In case of big swell, however, please check with the lifeguard beforehand: There can then be strong currents. Or take a few surfing lessons with the pros right away: The Kahaluu Bay Surf & Sea School familiarizes you with the features of Kahaluu Beach. For a change, you can experience the Pacific Ocean from an underwater perspective: Snorkeling and Diving at Kahaluu Beach offers colourful species of fish and sea turtles! Second spot on the Big Island: Honolii. Apart from the stony surface, there is nothing to complain about here. Large rocks and strong currents are absent. Honolii is located on the east coast near Hilo. For beginners and advanced surfers, there are three excellent spots to surf here.

Besides these two spots, known among the experienced local surfers is Banyan's, another popular spot for surfing. At this reef, just outside Kona, good conditions for surfing are given all year round. The waves break here both to the left and the right.

A little north of Big Island's capital, Kona, is another opportunity to ride Hawaii's waves, the Pine Trees Surfing Beach (also known as Kohanaiki Beach Park ). This beach is very popular among the islanders and is known for its year-round good surfing conditions. However, only experienced surfers should go into the water here.

There is one more surf beach in the area around Kona, the White Sands Beach, which is also called Magic Sands Beach. Depending on the tide, the sand section is larger or smaller and sometimes disappears almost completely. The bay is rather shallow and therefore appreciated not only by surfers, but also by body- and boogie boarders.

Surfing Beaches on Big Island - An overview:

  • Kahaluu Bay - Beginner to advanced
  • Honolii Beach - Beginner to advanced
  • Banyan's (Kona Bali Kai)- Advanced to professional
  • Pine Trees Surfing Beach (Kohanaiki Beach Park) - Advanced to professional
  • White Sands Beach - Beginner to advanced

Maui: Beautiful Lahaina and exciting Waiehu Beach

Surfing Big Island

Maui is not only the Hawaiian island of the rich and famous, there are also surf spots here for everyone to enjoy. The coastal town of Lahaina is home to three very nice surf spots in addition to luxury hotels and spas: Break Wall sounds more dangerous than it is. This spot is located just outside the city and I especially recommend it to you if you are not so confident on the surfboard yet. Harbours and Boneyard are great spots if you are a little more experienced. Or you can learn a few tricks from the pros here. You can also start from scratch in Lahaina: At the quiet spots, the instructors from the Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy or the Maui Surf Clinics teach you everything you need to know. Kaanapali Beach is a dream beach anyway. You can practice in the gentle waves but you will certainly not be alone here. The beach is very crowded, especially during high season. If you are an advanced surfer, I would advise you to go to Waiehu Beach and to Hookipa Beach. You need some practice at Waiehu Beach in the north - especially if the swell comes from the north. The waves at Hookipa are a real challenge for professionals. Early in the morning or in the early evening, however, the wind calms down. During those times, even beginners can jump into the waves!

SurfingMaui Big Island

The best spot on Maui to get into surfing is probably Kihei Cove at Cove Beach Park. The spot lies between Kalama Park and Kamaole Beach Park and offers the best conditions for beginners. Similar to Oahu's calmer side of Waikiki Beach, the waves here break very regularly to the left and right, don't get particularly high and powerful, so you can quickly make your first surfing successes.

Honolua Bay, a popular place for snorkeling in summer, turns into a surf spot for experts in winter. Called The Point is the spot where most surfers can be found there. However, there are several ways to ride the waves in this bay. Known among surfers as Coconuts is a spot at the northernmost end of Honolua Bay, but it is difficult to reach and should only be visited by really experienced surfers and locals. Keiki Bowls is called the place of the bay where rather young surfers and body boarders meet in the waves. The waves break here on a shallow coral reef.

About three miles east of the small town of Paia, lies Maui's probably most famous surf spot Pe'ahi, better known as Jaws. From November to March the waves here can be monstrous and reach up to 25 meters high and a speed of up to 50km/h. Jaws is therefore a mecca for the so-called big wave surfers.

Surfing Beaches on Maui - Overview:

  • Kihei Cove - Beginners
  • Break Wall - Beginner to advanced
  • Harbors - Advanced to professional
  • Boneyard - Advanced to professional
  • Waiehu Beach - Advanced to professional
  • Ho’okipa Beach - Advanced to professional
  • Honolua Bay - Beginner to advanced (several spots in the bay at different levels).
  • Jaws (Peahi Beach) - Pros (Big Wave Surfing)
tube oahu Big Island

Kauai's Top Spots: Pakala Beach, Hanalei Bay and Poipu Beach

Kauai is incredibly popular with outdoor tourists. But surfing is very popular too. My top 3 spots on Kauai are Pakala Beach in the southwest, Hanalei Bay and of course Poipu Beach. At Pakala Beach you will probably find yourself among locals. However, the small stretch of beach has it all for surfers: the waves can be up to half a kilometre long. Pakala is not only popular with local surfers but sharks are also occasionally attracted to the area. It is calmer in the Hanalei Bay too. The Hanalei Pier is not only beautifully embedded in nature, but also offers beginners gentle waves to practice on. Especially in February, the waves here are a dream for advanced surfers! You can get lessons at the famous Hanalei Surf Company right in the bay. But be careful not to swim too far out to sea - the currents get very strong. How about one of the officially most beautiful beaches in the U.S.? The Sunny Poipu Beach on the South Coast is a hotspot for beginners and advanced surfers during summer. It gets crowded here during the swells from the south in the summer months.

That was not all yet! The Hawaiian Islands offer many, many more surfing paradises for beginners, advanced surfers and professionals. You must look for a well-guarded beach for surfing at the beginning and get to know the Pacific Ocean off Hawaii with the locals - with one of the many surf schools. Even if you have already had one or two surf lessons, you should not underestimate Hawaii's waves. In this sense: Aloha from Hawaii and hang loose ;)

Surfing Beaches on Kauai - Overview:

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Summary of all sights

Honolua Bay

Paradise for snorkeling and diving - Honolua Bay Marine Reserve. Sea turtles, colorful exotic fish and a variety of corals. The Honolua...

Hoʻokipa Beach Park

Surfing Paradise on the North Shore in Maui A true paradise for surfers, Ho'okipa Beach Park is widely known among water sports enthusiasts....

Kamaole Beach Park 1-3

Kihei's most popular beach sections - Kamaole Beach Park 1-3 Located in the middle of Kihei are the three popular and well-liked beach sections of the...

Honoliʻi Beach Park

Just a few miles north of Hilo is this surf beach popular among locals. Surfing in Hawaii has a...

Hanalei Beach Park

Hanalei Beach Park is one of the beach sections of paradisiacal Hanalei Bay, Kauai's largest and most spectacular bay. Here awaits...
green and brown mountains beside body of water under blue sky during daytime

Poipu Beach Park

Located on Kauai's sunny south shore, about a half-hour drive southwest of Lihue, this once one of the top beaches...

Chun's Reef

Chun's Reef is a break approximately in the middle of the 7 miles of surf breaks on Oahu's North Shore. Its...

White Sands Beach Park (Magic Sands)

At White Sands Beach Park, the sand is magical, as it sometimes disappears completely overnight, leaving only the black...

Kahaluʻu Beach Park

A small bay south of Kona, which is just for snorkeling and by its so colorful underwater world a popular destination...

Waimea Bay (Beach Park)

Surfer's paradise and popular bathing beach - the multifaceted beach of Waimea Bay Surfing spot or ideal bathing bay? Waimea Bay captivates its guests...

Sunset Beach Park

Surfing, snorkeling and lazing at Sunset Beach A breathtaking beach of Oahu, a paradise for surfers in winter and a dream beach...

Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline)

The multi-faceted Ehukai Beach and the famous Banzai Pipeline. In the summer months a beautiful beach, in winter the spot to...

Laniakea Beach

Green Sea Turtle Habitat - Laniakea Beach at the North Shore White sandy beach, coconut palms, turquoise seawater and countless green sea turtles,...

Waikiki Beach

Gorgeous long sandy beaches, sparkling turquoise waters and the backdrop of the famous Diamond Head in the background. Equally characterized by Hawaiian kings...
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