The Hawaiian waves are some of the most famous waves in the world, but they can also be the most intimidating and deadly. With huge and sometimes deadly swells on Oahu’s North Shore, where worldwide surfing competitions are held, it can be tough to know where to venture out as a first-timer.
One of the best things a new surfer can do is hire a professional to help them learn the basic skills and techniques required as a surfer. Many believe that taking a surf lesson affords people the insight and experience equivalent to 6 to 8 hours of surfing; so investing in lessons will certain save time and spare exhaustion so you can hit the waves with better preparation. Usually surf lessons cost about $75 per person in a group of 2 to 3 people, but many hotels offer surfing lessons through the hotel or resort itself and may have group discounts and family packages available.
For those who want to be guaranteed gentler breaks or more laid-back wave sets, there are a number of Hawaiian surf spots for beginners.
Big Island: Kahalu’u Beach Park, which is also called Turtle Beach because of the frequent honu (green sea turtles) sightings there. This park is near Kona, south of the Kailua Village and has small to moderate waves for those new to the sport.
Oahu: The North Shore of Oahu is not only ruled by Pipeline, Sunset Beach and Rocky Point; there are surprisingly more subtle breaks nearby. Kawela Bay is known for having consistently small waves, even if the swells are raging just a few miles up the coast. The Turtle Bay Resort Pool Bar can get windy as the northernmost point on the island, but the waves are small-medium sized and a great place to test new skills. Since most of the swimmers and surfers at this beach are guests at the resort, you won’t be vying against superior local surfers to catch the waves!
For those on the south side of Oahu, Waikiki is known for being a classic starting point for surfers of all levels, and lessons are easy to find here. Other ideal areas are Point Panic, Publics and Canoes. When in doubt, chat with your hotel concierge about the nearest beaches for beginning surfers like you!
Maui: On the western side of Maui, one of the many surfing schools in Lahaina would be a great kick off to learn about the sport of surfing as well as how to avoid the reef, when to paddle out in a set and which waves to wait for. This is the perfect way for children to be introduced to the sport of surfing. Another ideal beach near Lahaina is Kihei Beach, which is known for small breaks and smooth rides. Other first-time surf spots in Maui are Launiupoko State Beach (a very popular spot for longboarders and beginners because of the shallow waters), Grandma’s and Wailea Beach.
Kauai: One of the best beaches for beginning surfers is Kiahuna Beach near the southeaster side of the island. Many surf instructors take their rookie students here to build confidence and strengthen their skills. Lemon Drops on the south shore beach is another great place as is Salt Pond near the family-friendly beach at Port Allen Harbor. Those staying on the northern most part of the island can enjoy Waiohai Beach.