Best Places To Surf In Hawaii For Intermediate Surfers (All Islands)

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Hawaii is by far the best location in the world for surfing. Being a tropical paradise and temperatures staying relatively constant throughout the year makes surfing a year-round sport. The best surfing time for professionals is in the winter when the waves are more challenging with many competitions.

For beginners to professionals and all skill levels in between, Hawaii has the best swells in the world. The numerous islands, located far from any mainland, produce the most unusual and fantastic wave patterns. With its surfing culture and history, Hawaii is the best place to learn to surf.

Where can you find another place like Hawaii with such a vast range of swell sizes? Surfers of many varieties and skill levels can enjoy the beaches of Hawaii. Bodysurfers, bodyboarders, hydrofoils, kite surfers, and even windsurfers practice their favorite sport in Hawaii. Learn where it all began and where you can go to become a surfer-dude too.

The History Of Surfing In Hawaii

When you search for the history of surfing, you will find two statements:

  1. Hawaiians created surfing
  2. Ancient Polynesians created surfing

At first glance, this seems contradictory, but one needs to understand that Hawaii is considered one of the corners of the Polynesian triangle. The triangle corners in the Pacific Ocean for the Polynesian culture are Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island. Therefore it is not so wrong to say Polynesias brought surfing to Hawaii.

It was a sport for kings since commoners were not allowed to surf, but later in the 1800s, after the kapu(taboo) system was abolished, they could join in the fun as long as they didn’t steal a royals’ wave. The great surfer and warrior King Kamehameha and founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii, are still honored today.

Early surfboards made from koa or wiliwili wood measured anything from five feet to 20 feet and could weigh 160 pounds. It took great skill and stamina to ride the waves on these early surfboards. Lieutenant James King served under Captain James Cook and wrote the earliest account of surfing in 1779.

In 1820 missionaries arrived in Hawaii and opposed surfing, citing its gambling and sexual overtones as reasons for their opposition. Surfers were dubbed “chattering savages” by Protestant missionary Hiram Bingham I. Surfing began to wane as Hawaiians replaced their traditional ways for sports taught by the missionaries.

In the mid-1800s, King Kalakaua, also known as the “Merrie Monarch,” encouraged the return of Hawaiian culture. Waikiki beach boy, Duke Kahanamoku, considered the father of modern surfing, revitalized the sport in the early 1900s. After George Freeth demonstrated surfing at Redondo beach in California in 1907, California’s beaches became the breeding ground for surfing innovation.

Best Surfing Locations To Surf On The Different Islands

Hawaii is known for its surfing, and Hawaii is the place to be when it comes to surfing. With numerous surfing places strewn over the islands, you can find any condition you desire. Beginners will enjoy little waves, while experienced surfers will enjoy massive, stormy seas. Bodyboarders and bodysurfers can have a dedicated spot just for them to enjoy.

O’ahu Island Surfing Spots

The world’s greatest surfers flock to the North Shore’s famed winter swells. During the winter, witness professional surfers in action, and watch surfers from all over the world ride Hawaii’s most famous large waves. Waikiki beach is known for helping novices start surfing. Here are some of the surf beaches to visit on O’ahu Island:


  • Location: Banzai Ehukai beach park
  • Surf conditions: It’s not a long paddle out, but during solid waves, there may be a lot of water moving around, and even getting into the wave movement itself can be difficult
  • Experience level advised: Intermediate to advanced


  • Location: South Shore
  • Surf conditions: Long paddles to and from the shore, but it’s not horrible once you’re out there
  • Experience level advised: More for beginners and intermediates

Hale’iwa Beach Park

  • Location: North Shore
  • Surf conditions: On small wave days, it’s simple, but as the surge grows, the paddle becomes more complex, especially on swells that are more westerly inclined.
  • Experience level advised: All levels, but it can get very rough

Kaena Point

  • Location: Westernmost tip of O’ahu
  • Surf conditions: Staying in place might be challenging when there is a lot of water moving
  • Experience level advised: Experts only

Makaha Beach

  • Location: West Shore
  • Surf conditions: Tough if you connect from the top point, but the calmer channel helps
  • Experience level advised: Good to advanced surfers


  • Location: Pupukea
  • Surf conditions: It’s not a long paddle out, but during solid swells, there may be a lot of water movement, a lot of jockeying for position, and just trying to get into the wave itself (turn and burn)
  • Experience level advised: Intermediate to advanced

Pua’ena Point

  • Location: Northeast corner of Haleiwa Harbor
  • Surf conditions: On large swells that are more northerly, the current pouring across the point may be particularly bad, requiring regular paddling to keep in position.
  • Experience level advised: All Abilities

Sand Island

  • Location: South Shore
  • Surf conditions: Easy paddling
  • Experience level advised: All levels

Sandy Beach

  • Location: East Shore
  • Surf conditions: Short reef breaks, best bodysurfing spot
  • Experience level advised: Good to advanced  

Sunset Beach

  • Location: North Shore
  • Surf conditions: There will be a lot of paddling, especially as the waves get bigger. Long rides with plenty of currents
  • Experience level advised: Intermediate toadvanced

Waikiki Beach

  • Location: South Shore
  • Surf conditions: Long paddles but good when you are out there
  • Experience level advised: Beginner to intermediate

Waimea Bay

  • Location: North Shore
  • Surf conditions: The paddling is not too bad besides the long paddle out there once you’re in the line-up. However, getting into these big faster-moving waves can be challenging
  • Experience level advised: Only experienced big-wave surfers should attempt this, and they must exercise tremendous caution.

White Plains Beach

  • Location: South Shore
  • Surf conditions: Rideable but limp waves
  • Experience level advised: Beginner

Big Island Surf Spots

The Big Island has fewer surfing spots than the other islands, but that means you can start learning faster with less traffic in the water. Great for beginners, bodyboarders and bodysurfers. Come check out some of these surfing beaches:


  • Location: Western Shore
  • Surf conditions: Short paddle, but longer paddle on more significant wave days
  • Experience level advised: All levels depending on wave size


  • Location: East Shore
  • Surf conditions: Short paddle currents get nasty at times
  • Experience level advised: Mostly for bodyboarders and bodysurfers

Pine Trees

  • Location: Western Shore
  • Surf conditions: Short paddle most days
  • Experience level advised: All levels depending on waves

Kauai Island Surf Spots

Kauai is a surfing paradise surrounded by some of the most breathtaking landscapes on the planet. You will find many professional surfers battling the ocean in the winter months. The surfing beaches mentioned here are for more experienced surfers:

Anahola Bay

  • Location: East Coast
  • Surf conditions: Long paddle but not hard. It’s a point break, so the longer the ride, the longer the paddle back
  • Experience level advised: Good to advanced surfers

Hanalei Bay

  • Location: North Shore
  • Surf conditions: Long paddle but not hard. It’s a point break, so the longer the ride, the longer the paddle back
  • Experience level advised: Avid to advance surfers

Mana Point

  • Location: West Shore
  • Surf conditions: When swells are small, paddling is short and easy, but big waves can make paddling long and tiring
  • Experience level advised: all levels depending on swell size

Poipu Outer Reef

  • Location: South Shore
  • Surf conditions: Long paddle out and currents are bad sometimes
  • Experience level advised: Experts only

Maui Island Surf Spots

Every year, tens of thousands of people visiting Maui are fortunate enough to catch an awesome wave.

Surfing on Maui is some of the best you’ll find anywhere in the world, and taking a Maui surfing class is one of the most acceptable methods for people to enjoy the waves while on vacation on the island. Here are some beaches to visit while you are in Maui:

Honolua Bay

  • Location: Northwesterly tip
  • Surf conditions: Long rides but just as long paddle back to the point
  • Experience level advised: Best for avid and advanced surfers

Hookipa Beach Park

  • Location: Northcentral shore
  • Surf conditions: Average, but depending on the spotyou surf
  • Experience level advised: all skill levelsdepending on the waves


  • Location: Northcentral shore
  • Surf conditions: It will be a long paddle if not picked up by a jet ski or boat. Paddling into these waves can be difficult, mainly if the trade winds are strong
  • Experience level advised: Extreme caution needed; expert surfers only

Where And When To Watch Surfing Competitions?

Massive swells shower the North Shore of O’ahu with some of the most incredible waves in the world between November and March. Every year, some of the most exciting surf competitions globally are conducted on these waves, attracting the best surfers in the world. We will only focus on some competitions held on O’ahu Island in this list:

  • Haleiwa Challenger: WSL Men’s and Women’s Challenger Series Event
  • Pipe Pro: Men’s and Women’s Qualifying Series
  • Da Hui Backdoor Shootout: An invitation-only North Shore surf competition
  • The Billabong Pro Pipeline: Part of the WSL champion tour for men and woman
  • Hurley Pro Sunset Beach: Part of the WSL champion tour for men and woman
  • ‘The Eddie’ is a big wave invitational: Invitation-Only Big Wave Surf Contest in memory of Eddie Aikau

Surfing Tips For Beginner Surfers In Hawaii

Surfing is one of the world’s most challenging and sophisticated sports because no two waves are alike. Your playground is constantly changing, and the waves are affected by factors such as wind, tides, and swell, so you surf differently every day. To surf can be one of the most enjoyable experiences of your life, despite taking time to master.

Learn How To Surf On The Proper Surfboard

Surfing with the right type of surfboard will make the difference between surfing 15 waves or no waves in a surf session. It’s all about finding the appropriate mix between the volume and the surfboard’s rocker for you. The volume is a measurement of how much floatation your surfboard has. The length, width, and thickness of the surfboard from nose to tail determine the volume of a surfboard.

The banana shape of the surfboard is called a rocker, and it provides a lot of performance benefits for expert surfers. For beginners, though, the rocker will slow you down. Waxing your surfboard will help you get more grip when it is slippery. A leash attached to the surfboard is essential not to lose your surfboard when you fall, and wearing the proper wetsuit for the temperature water you are in will help a lot.

Here are some types of surfboards to consider:

Select The Ideal Surfing Location

It’s critical to pick the right surf area for your safety and enjoyment in the water. Beach breaks, or regions with sand bottoms, are better for beginners, whereas spots with rocks or coral reef bottoms are better for more expert surfers. In truth, some reef waves are suitable for novices, and some beach breaks are better for advanced surfers. The wave’s conditions and tides are better indicators than the bottom type.

Aspects Of Surfing Safety

It might be common sense, but learning to swim is paramount before beginning to surf. You cannot rely on your surfboard as the floating device that will keep you afloat. Hitting your head against the surfboard is the most common injury in surfing. Learn to jump or fall away from the surfboard when wiping out. The second most common injury is when hitting another surfer. Keeping proper distance between you and others will prevent injury.

Avoid the impact zone (where the wave lip hits the flat water). The impact zone is where the most turbulence occurs as the wave breaks. Many beginners panic when caught in the impact zone and dragged underwater for a few seconds. It is best to avoid the impact zone when still learning to surf.

Surfing Etiquette In The Water

You will need to get familiar with jargon and surfing etiquette such as don’t paddle inside, don’t drop in, don’t snake, and don’t ditch your board. The basic rule is that the surfer with the longest possible ride gets the wave first. Don’t get into another surfer’s way since this creates frustration and potential injuries. Be kind to your fellow surfers, and they will help you level up faster.


Hawaii is considered the birthplace of surfing, and after a few hiccups in history, it has grown to a place where you can surf any swell possible. The Islands’ location close to the equator makes these tropical paradises climate perfect to surf all year round. If you want to learn to surf, there is no other destination on the planet that can provide you with the variety and competence that Hawaii can.

Professional surfing events are conducted in Hawaii every year, and even if you are unable to compete, there is no better place to watch professional surfing.