Learning to surf in Hawaii is the holy grail for beginner surfers.

Check the best beginner surf spots on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and more in this beach guide.

By Matt Hapgood

* All images are royalty free from Unsplash

Best Beginner Surf Spots in Hawaii: Oahu, Maui, Kauai Included

Hawaii is known for its beautiful beaches, warm waters, and perfect waves, making it a surfer’s paradise. Believe it or not, nearly 1.5 million people call Hawaii home, many of whom revolve their lives around the ocean and rich heritage Hawaii is famous for.

And while Hawaii is the perfect place to begin your surfing journey, it’s important to find beginner surf spots with mellow rolling waves, long rides, and a welcoming atmosphere.

In this article, we will explore some of the best beginner surf spots in Hawaii, so you can catch your first waves with confidence – and most importantly, have fun!

Why Hawaii is Ideal for Beginners

Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to learn how to surf – the ocean is warm all the time, and with over 240 sunny days per year and consistent swell on tap, it’s no wonder why many beginners flock to Hawaii’s shores to catch their first wave.

Mellow Waves

Hawaii has a tonne of surf spots that offer a variety of wave sizes and shapes, making it easy for beginners to find a spot that suits their skill level.

For example, Waikiki Beach on Oahu is known for its long, rolling waves that are perfect for beginners.

Other beginner-friendly spots include Lahaina Harbor on Maui and Pine Trees Beach on the Big Island.

Warm Water

Another reason why Hawaii is ideal for beginners is the warm water temperatures. The water temperature in Hawaii ranges from 74°F to 80°F year-round, making it comfortable to surf without a wetsuit.

This is especially important for beginners who may spend more time in the water as they learn to catch waves and improve their skills – and if you have kids and they want to learn to surf, being able to avoid the dreaded wetsuit is a game changer!

Surf Culture

Hawaii is the birthplace of modern surfing, and the sport has deep roots in Hawaiian culture. Surfing is not just a sport in Hawaii, it’s a way of life.

This culture makes Hawaii an ideal place for beginners to learn about the history and tradition of surfing which is epitomized in the Aloha spirit.

Many surf schools and instructors in Hawaii also emphasize the importance of respecting the ocean and its power, which is an important lesson for all surfers, but especially for beginners.

 Top Beginner Surf Spots on Oahu

If you are new to surfing and planning to visit Hawaii, Oahu is a great island to start with. And while many of the spots on the North Shore are best left to the World’s most famous surfers there are still a load of spots perfect for beginners to feel the glide.

Here are three of the best.

 1.    Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is probably the most famous surf spot in Hawaii, and it is also a great spot for beginners. The waves here are usually small and gentle, perfect for those who are just starting out.

Waikiki Beach is also a perfect spot for longboarding – the waves just roll along for ages, ideal for practicing your pop-up and learning to walk the board.

The beach has a long stretch of sand and is surrounded by hotels, restaurants, and shops, making it a popular tourist destination.


2.    White Plains Beach

White Plains is located on the southwest coast of Oahu and is known for its long, gentle waves.

It is a great spot for beginner surfers who want to practice their skills in a less crowded area. The beach has a large parking lot and a picnic area, making it a great spot for families.

3.    Canoes

Canoes is located in the heart of Waikiki on Kalakaua Ave directly in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. It’s one of the most popular beginner surf spots on Oahu.

The waves here are gentle and long, making it a great spot for longboarding. However, it can get crowded, especially during peak season. It is recommended to go early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

Overall, Oahu has many great beginner surf spots. These three spots are just a few of the best. No matter which spot you choose, make sure to follow proper surf etiquette and always respect the ocean.

Maui’s Beginner-Friendly Beaches

Maui is a great destination for beginner surfers who want to learn how to surf in a safe and fun environment.

With its warm waters and gentle waves, Maui offers some of the best beginner-friendly beaches in Hawaii. Here are some of the top beginner surf spots in Maui:

1.    Lahaina Breakwall

Lahaina Breakwall is a popular surf spot located in the heart of Lahaina. It is a great place for beginner surfers to learn how to surf and catch their first wave.

The waves at Lahaina Breakwall are generally small and gentle, making it an ideal spot for beginners. The breakwall also provides a barrier from the wind and waves, which helps to but out the chop, and make it a great environment for learning.

2.    Kihei Cove

‘The Cove’ is a great spot for beginner surfers looking for a mellow and relaxed atmosphere. The waves at Kihei Cove are usually small and consistent, which makes it a perfect spot for learning how to surf.

In addition, the cove is sheltered from the wind, which makes it a great spot for beginners who are still learning how to paddle and control their board.

3.    Cove Park

The Cove Park in Kihei is another great beginner-friendly beach in Maui. The Cove is known for its consistent waves and shallow water, which makes it an ideal spot for beginners who are still learning how to stand up and ride a wave.

The Cove is also home to several surf schools and rental shops, which makes it easy for beginner surfers to get started.

Overall, Maui offers some of the best beginner-friendly beaches in Hawaii. Whether you’re looking for a mellow and relaxed atmosphere or a more challenging surf spot, there’s something for everyone in Maui.

The Big Island’s Surf Spots for Newbies

If you’re new to surfing and looking for the best spots to catch some waves on the Big Island, you’re in luck. Here are a few beginner-friendly spots to consider:

1.    Kahalu’u Bay

Kahalu’u Bay is not only great for snorkeling but also serves as an excellent spot for beginners to learn how to surf. The bay offers gentle waves and is known for its consistent surf, making it an ideal place for those new to the sport.

Just be sure to take care over the reef and rocky bottom.

2.    Pine Trees

Pine Trees, also known as Kohanaiki Beach Park, located on the Big Island, is another fantastic spot for novice surfers.

With its mellow waves and picturesque surroundings, it provides a relaxed and enjoyable surfing experience for beginners.

3.    Honoli’i Beach Park

Honoli’i Beach Park is renowned for its welcoming atmosphere and beginner-friendly waves. It’s a popular spot for those who are new to surfing and want to practice their skills in a laid-back setting.

Kauai’s Surf Spots for Rookies

Kauai, also known as the Garden Island, is a popular surf destination in Hawaii.

With its warm waters, consistent waves, and stunning scenery, it’s no wonder why many beginners flock to its shores. Here are some of the best beginner surf spots in Kauai:

1.    Hanalei Bay

Located on the north shore of Kauai, Hanalei Bay is one of the most picturesque surf spots on the island. The bay offers a variety of breaks suitable for all levels of surfers, including beginners.

The waves here are gentle and perfect for learning, making it an ideal spot for first-timers. The beach is also wide and sandy, providing plenty of space for surfers to practice their moves.

2.    Poipu Beach

Poipu Beach is located on the south shore of Kauai and is another popular surf spot for beginners.

The beach offers a variety of waves, from small and gentle to larger and more challenging, making it a great place to progress your skills. The beach is also family-friendly, with plenty of amenities such as restrooms, showers, and picnic areas.

3.    Kalapaki Beach

Kalapaki Beach is located on the east side of Kauai and is another great spot for beginners. The beach offers a gentle, rolling wave that is perfect for learning how to surf. The beach is also home to several surf schools, making it easy for beginners to get started.

Overall, Kauai offers some of the best beginner surf spots in Hawaii. Whether you’re looking to learn how to surf or improve your skills, Kauai has something to offer for everyone.

Safety Tips for Surfing Beginners

Surfing is an exciting sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. However, it’s important to remember that surfing can also be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken.

Here are a few tips to help you stay safe while learning to surf in Hawaii:

1. Choose the right surf spot

Not all surf spots are created equal. Some are better suited for experienced surfers, while others are ideal for beginners. When choosing a surf spot, beginners should look for a spot with small gentle waves.

Some popular surf spots for beginners in Hawaii include Waikiki Beach, Lahaina Harbor, and Kailua Beach.

2. Wear the right gear

Wearing the right gear is essential for staying safe while surfing. Beginners should try to wear a rash guard to offer protection from the sun, as well as to prevent a rash from the board – this can sometimes happen if your skin is not used to laying on a surfboard all day long!

Another optional extra is a helmet – If you are surfing with your kids, definitely try to rent or borrow a helmet to protect their head.

3. Learn the basics

Before hitting the waves, beginners should take the time to learn the basics of surfing. This includes learning how to paddle, how to stand up on the board, and how to turn.

Taking a lesson from a qualified instructor is a great way to learn the basics and get started on the right foot. Oftentimes you will learn a few of these drills on the beach before you hit the waves.

4. Respect the ocean

The ocean can be unpredictable, and beginners should always respect its power. Before entering the water, surfers should check the surf report and be aware of any hazards, such as rip currents or rocks.

It’s also important to be aware of other surfers in the water and to avoid cutting in front of them. If in doubt check with a lifeguard – these guys and gals live and breathe this beach lifestyle and are always more than happy to help.

Best Time of Year to Surf in Hawaii

Hawaii is known for its year-round surfing opportunities, but the best time of year to surf in Hawaii depends on the surfer’s skill level and preferences.

For beginners and intermediate surfers, the summer months (June to August) offer smaller, more manageable waves on the South Shore.

For advanced surfers, the winter months (November to February) are the best time to surf in Hawaii.

The North Shore experiences consistent, large waves during this time of year, making it a popular destination for professional surfers. The waves can reach up to 80 feet, providing a challenging and thrilling experience for experienced surfers – and it’s amazing to watch as a spectator too!

As you would imagine, Hawaii offers excellent surfing opportunities year-round. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, there’s a surf spot in Hawaii that’s perfect for you.

Surfing Etiquette and Local Rules

When surfing in Hawaii, it’s important to follow proper etiquette and local rules to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

Respect the Locals

Hawaii’s surfing culture is deeply rooted in tradition and respect. As a visitor, it’s important to show respect to the locals and their customs.

Avoid overcrowding the lineup, don’t drop in on someone else’s wave, and always give priority to the surfer closest to the peak of the wave.

If you’re unsure of the rules, don’t be afraid to ask a local for guidance – they are friendly!

Know the Rules

Each surf spot in Hawaii has its own set of rules and regulations. Some beaches may have specific hours for surfing, while others may have designated areas for beginners.

It’s important to research the surf spot you plan to visit beforehand and familiarize yourself with the local rules.

Stay Safe

Surfing can be a dangerous sport, especially for beginners. Always wear a leash, and be aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for other surfers and any potential hazards in the water, such as rocks or reefs.

If you’re unsure of your abilities, it’s best to stick to beginner-friendly surf spots and take a lesson from a qualified instructor.

Leave No Trace

Hawaii’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world, and it’s important to keep them that way. Always clean up after yourself and leave the beach better than you found it. Avoid leaving any trash or litter on the beach, and be mindful of any wildlife in the area.

By following these guidelines, surfers can help maintain the aloha spirit and ensure a positive experience for everyone in the water.

Equipment Guide for First-Time Surfers

Surfing is an exciting and challenging sport that requires proper equipment to ensure safety and success. Even if your level of surf fitness is not amazing, using the right beginner equipment will set you on the right path.

As a first-time surfer, it’s important to have the right gear to make the most out of your surfing experience. Here are some essential items you will need:


Choosing the right surfboard is crucial for beginners. A longer, wider, and thicker board is recommended as it provides stability and buoyancy, making it easier to catch waves. Soft-top boards are also a great option as they are more forgiving and less likely to cause injury.

It’s important to rent or purchase a board that is appropriate for your height, weight, and skill level.


A leash is a vital piece of equipment that attaches to your ankle and the surfboard. It keeps you connected to your board and prevents it from drifting away when you fall off.

A leash also helps to ensure the safety of other surfers in the water.


Wax is applied to the top of the surfboard to provide traction and prevent slipping. It’s important to use the right type of wax for the water temperature and the type of board.

A beginner should use a soft, sticky wax if you are surfing on a soft-top or foam surfboard.


Sunscreen is essential when surfing in Hawaii. The sun’s rays can be intense and cause sunburn, even on cloudy days. A waterproof sunscreen with a high SPF is recommended to protect the skin from harmful UV rays.

By having the right equipment, a first-time surfer can have a safe and enjoyable experience in the beautiful waters of Hawaii.

Surf Schools and Lessons in Hawaii

Hawaii is known for its world-class surf breaks, and it’s no surprise that many visitors come to the islands to learn how to surf. Fortunately, there are plenty of surf schools and lessons available for beginners.

One of the most popular surf schools in Hawaii is Hawaiian Style Surfing. Based on Kauai’s sunny South Shore, Hawaiian Style Surfing offers lessons every day of the week, in the morning or afternoon. With experienced instructors and a focus on safety, Hawaiian Style Surfing is a great option for beginners.

Another great option for surf lessons in Hawaii is Poipu Beach Surf School. Located on the south shore of Kauai, Poipu Beach Surf School offers private and group lessons for all ages and skill levels. With a focus on teaching the fundamentals of surfing, Poipu Beach Surf School is a great choice for beginners.

For those looking for a surf school on Oahu, Moku Surf School is a great option. With locations in Waikiki and Ko Olina, Moku Surf School offers lessons for all skill levels, from beginners to advanced surfers. With experienced instructors and a focus on safety, Moku Surf School is a great choice for those looking to learn how to surf in Hawaii.

In addition to these surf schools, many hotels and resorts in Hawaii offer surf lessons for their guests. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, there are plenty of options available for those looking to learn how to surf in Hawaii.


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