Surfing, Learning to Surf & Watersports on Oahu

Dec 30, 2019 | General Information

On every Hawaiian island visitors can enjoy an amazing variety of private, semi-private and group surfing lessons and venues. Surfing locations and experiences on each island and even parts of each island all differ. In addition to traditional surfing lessons, many surfing schools also offer standup paddling (SUP) lessons, kite boarding and sail-boarding lessons. Places to learn surfing and other watersports vary so much that each one provides a different and unique kind of Hawaii watersports adventure. For example, on Kauai you can learn to surf or SUP on the Hanalei River or Wailua River or in the Hule’ia National Wildlife Refuge.

Before making any decisions about where to surf or learn to surf, people should read our Trustpilot reviews of surfing lessons for both beginners and seasoned surfers. These reviews describe the schools and instructors, their experience, helpfulness, patience, and commitment to assisting people of all ages, irrespective of anyone’s athletic ability. These reviews also are helpful for learning about the best spots for learning to surf, which surf schools use them and, in some cases, the right time of year.

Some of the islands have world-class surf spots that definitely are not the place to start surfing. But there are plenty of good choices in the islands for people looking for gently rolling waves, for example, on Kauai:

Anahola Bay, protected by an outer reef;

beautiful Hanalei Bay (in the summer months);

Kalapaki Beach any time of year, protected by Kukii Point and Carter Point;

Kiahuna Beach on Kauai’s south side.

Hawaii has so many great beaches for surfing. To start with I’ll focus on Oahu that is truly a paradise for beginners and more experienced surfers. The choices on Oahu for learning to surf and for more advanced instruction are unsurpassed. The small waves of Oahu’s Waikiki Beach, Kailua Beach, Waimanalo Beach and Bellows Field Beach Park that are ideal for learning to surf also are ideal for bodyboarding.

Almost everyone has heard about Hawaii’s famous surf and surf breaks — Pipeline, Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach — and international surfing contests on Oahu’s North Shore like Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. For advanced and skilled surfers, the best time to surf on Oahu’s north shore is winter from approximately November through March.

For beginners, however, the most popular areas for surfing or learning to surf are elsewhere. Along Oahu’s South Shore near Waikiki beginners benefit from small and consistent surf breaks year-round. With some minor variations, the surf in Waikiki always is gentle and seemingly endless. In the summer months waves on the North Shore calm down and can be ideal for beginning surfers. Each surfing spot on the island provides a different experience catching a first wave and also afterwards enjoying attractions in the vicinity. For example, Puana Point (Haleiwa Beach Park) and Chun’s on the north shore (but not during the winter season) are close to Haleiwa with its fun restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries.

Near Oahu’s Turtle Bay Resort, Laniakea Beach (aka Turtle Beach)is named after sea turtles that come ashore and lounge on the sand. Next to Waikiki’s hotels the waves at Canoes beach on the South Shore are really easy and slow. Oahu’s reputation for beaches and waves ideally suited for beginners also include White Plains Beach on the southwest coast and Old Man’s Oahu in front of the Elk’s Lodge in Waikiki.

In addition to great choices for surfing beginners, Oahu has a wealth of watersports opportunities. Recreational water-skiers enjoy the calm waters of Hawaii Kai. Oahu also is a kayakers’ paradise. You can even kayak from Lanikai Beach to the Mokulua Islands. Adventurous visitors can decide to blissfully float above Waikiki on a parasail towed by a speedboat…scuba dive the walls of Kahuna Canyon …or view an occasional shark from the comfort of a passenger submarine.

Many visitors to Oahu take surfing lessons and then guided or self-guided kayaking or standup paddleboard tours. Some of the best choices include the almost-always calm Kaneohe Bay or at Lanikai Beach. From Lanikai Beach you can paddle across the channel to the pyramid-shaped islands called Mokulua. During the summer months on Oahu’s north shore, you can start in Haleiwa and kayak to Waimea Bay.

Some visitors to Oahu follow surfing lessons with a scuba dive, that even can include a wreck dive. The Mahi, a 185-foot former minesweeper, easily accessible just south of Waianae, is surrounded by marine life. Its a great place to photograph schools of lemon butterfly fish and blue-lined snapper. For non-wreck diving in summer, try Kahuna Canyon. This massive amphitheater located near Mokuleia is full of sea life.

Individuals, couples, families and small groups all love to snorkel in Hawaii and the number and variety of choices on each island are mindboggling. Instructors from surf schools on each island only take students to the best surfing, snorkeling and other watersports spots every day and as needed pick them up from hotels.