Hawaii Surf Spots

Hawaii Surf Spots

Peahi – Click image to enlarge.

There are literally over a hundred Hawaii surf spots, I won’t cover every one of them, but will cover the most well-known as well as the Hawaii surf spots that I would recommend to a beginner or that I love to surf.  Most of the better known Hawaii surf spots are on the island of Oahu.

During the summer months, the South shore and East shore of the Island of Oahu will be hit by the surf swells.  These are the months that the South and East shores will get their largest waves.  During the winter months, the North shore and West shore of the Island of Oahu will be hit by the surf swells.  These are the months that the Island of Oahu will get the biggest waves of the year.

During this time of the year, beginner and intermediate surfers should stay away from the North and West shores, these large waves are for the expert surfer.  You don’t want to test yourself here, unless you truly know what you are doing.

Waimea Bay

Waimea Bay along with Pipeline are probably the most famous and well-known Hawaii surf spots.  Waimea Bay is located on the North shore of Oahu and at one point was considered the premier big wave surfing spot.  In its early history, Waimea Bay was once thought to be an unsurfable wave.  It wasn’t until the early pioneers of big wave surfing, surfers such as Greg Knoll, Mike Stang, Mickey Munoz, Del Cannon and Bing Copeland, surfed this massive wave that the notion was dispelled.

The Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau aka the Eddie is a surf contest has been held at Waimea Bay since 1987.   The contest has only been run 9 times in its 31 year history, because the waves were not large enough (30 feet or higher) nor consistent enough to be held.

Hawaii Surf Spots

Waimea Bay – Click image to enlarge.

The Eddie is named after legendary North shore lifeguard and big wave surfer Eddie Aikau.  Eddie Aikau was a crew member of the Polynesian voyaging canoe, the Hokule’a, the Hokule’a was built after the vessels used by Polynesians when they discovered the Hawaiian Islands.  The Hokule’a was built so that it could trace the migration path used by early Polynesians.

On its second voyage, the Hokule’a was caught in heavy seas and capsized just outside of the Hawaiian Islands.  Eddie volunteered to paddle, on his surfboard, to the Islands to get help.  He was never seen or heard from again.


What surfer has not heard of Pipeline aka Banzai Pipeline, it is one of the premier barreling waves in the World.  Pipeline is located on the North shore of Oahu and is a reef break.  It is the last stop in the World Surfing Championship Tour and also the last stop in the Triple Crown of Surfing.  This Hawaii surf spot, like Waimea, is not for the beginner or intermediate surfer.

In 1983, former World Surfing Champion Fred Hemmings organized the first Triple Crown of Surfing.  Some say, winning the Triple Crown of Surfing rivals a World Surfing Championship.  Pipeline is the only Hawaii stop on the Men’s World Surfing Championship tour.

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach is located on Oahu’s North shore.  The inaugural Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau was first held at Sunset beach.  It is the second stop on the Triple Crown of Surfing.  Like many of the North shore surf spots, during the winter months, this surf break is not for the beginner or intermediate surfer.

Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park

Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park aka Haleiwa is also on the North shore of Oahu, and it is walking distance from the town of Haleiwa.  Haleiwa is the first stop on the Triple Crown of Surfing.  During the winter months, Haleiwa is not a surf spot for the beginner and intermediate surfer.


Hawaii Surf Spots

Pipeline – Click image to enlarge.

Is located on the West shore of Oahu and is also known for its big waves.  Before there was big wave surfing at Waimea, Makaha was the big wave spot.  Makaha was the site of the Makaha International Surfing Championships from 1954-1971.

Buffalo’s Big Board Surfing Classic has held its contest here since 1977 and it is named after legendary Waterman Buffalo Keaulana.  This Hawaii surf spot, during the winter months, is not a place for the beginner or intermediate surfer.

Ala Moana Beach Park

Ala Moana Beach Park is located on the South shore of Oahu, it is a lagoon that is separated from the surf breaks by a wall of coral.  This surf spot is within miles of downtown Honolulu and within walking distance of many apartments and condos.  To reach the surf spots you need to swim past the lagoon or jump off rocks and then get past the wall of coral.  There a many Hawaii surf spots in and around Ala Moana Beach Park.

When surfing the spots inside of Ala Moana Beach Park it is a very good idea to pay attention to the tides.  During a very low tide, the coral reef is clearly visible and some parts of the reef will be sticking out of the water.  When surfing these spots, you’ll need to kick out before you make contact with the reef.

This is a very popular Hawaii surf spot and when the summer swells hit, it can get very crowded.  Ala Moana Beach Park can be surfed by the beginner and intermediate surfer during most of the year.  When the summer swells hit, the beginner surfer should avoid this spot and the intermediate surfer should not go out when it gets too big.

Kuhio Beach Park

Kuhio Beach Park is located within Waikiki Beach and is recognizable because of the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern day surfing.  Kuhio Beach Park is located on the South Shore of Oahu and named after Prince Kuhio, a Hawaiian Monarch.

This Hawaii surf spot is crowded year round, it is frequented by tourists as well as locals, it is within walking distance of most Waikiki hotels, apartments, etc.  Kuhio Beach Park is one of many surf spots located in and around Waikiki Beach.  The beginner and intermediate surfers can surf this spot year round but should pay attention to wave heights and should not go out if the waves exceed their ability.

Sandy Beach

Hawaii Surf Spots

Sandy Beach – Click image to enlarge.

Sandy Beach is located on the South shore of Oahu, it is known as a bodysurfing and bodyboarding Hawaii surf spot, but you will see your occasional surfboard surfer surfing here.  When the summer swells hit, this is definitely a spot the beginner and intermediate surfer should avoid.  In my opinion, you should not surfboard surf this spot, the bodysurfers and bodyboarders will not be happy if you do.

Makapu’u Beach Park

Makapu’u Beach Park is located on the East shore of Oahu, it is primarily known for bodysurfing and bodyboarding but surfers do surfboard surf this Hawaii surf spot.  When the summer swells hit, the beginner and intermediate surfer should avoid this spot.

Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay is located in Maui and has been the last stop in the Women’s Surfing Championship Tour since 2014.  Reigning World Surf Champion, Carissa Moore, won this event in 2014 and 2015.  By winning the event in 2014, she helped decide who would become the 2014 Women’s World Surfing Champion.  When she won the event in 2015, she cemented her 2015 Women’s World Surfing Champion Title.

Peahi aka Jaws

Peahi aka Jaws is located on the North shore of the Island of Maui, this is one of the premier big wave surf spots.  Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama started surfing this spot, using the tow-in surfing method of big wave surfing which utilizes a jet ski.  Laird Hamilton, Darrick Doerner and Buzzy Kerbox are credited with inventing tow-in surfing.

The inaugural Peahi Challenge was held in 2015 and required competitors to paddle into the wave, Billy Kemper from Hawaii, won this event.  Obviously, this is a Hawaii surf spot that should only be surfed by the experienced big wave surfer.

White Plains Beach aka Barbers Point

White Plains Beach aka Barbers Point location is considered the West shore of Oahu but it is affected by the South shore swells.  This is a well maintained beach break that has surfers of all skill levels surfing here.  In the summer, waves at Barbers has been known to reach the 10 foot height level but this is still a Hawaii surf spot that can be surfed year round by beginner and intermediate surfers.

This is my favorite Hawaii surf spot and I have been surfing here for nearly a decade.  The crowd is friendly and you will not experience any localism here (click here to read my post “Rules to Surfing,” were I discuss localism).

In Conclusion

Hawaii surf spots are numerous and I have presented you with some of the more well-known spots as well as my favorite spot.  The North and West shores of Oahu experience Oahu biggest waves during the winter months.  The South and East shores of Oahu will experience swells during the summer months.  Always remember to surf spots that are within your surfing ability.  To see a map of Oahu surf spots go www.surf-oahu.com.

Check out my post: “Hottest Women surfers.”

Thanks for dropping in and if you should have any questions or comments, please post it in the comments section of this page.

4 thoughts on “Hawaii Surf Spots

  1. Hawaii certainly has many breaks for surfing, but I assume most are very crowded and full of kooks. Are you able to hire guides to take you to uncrowded spots? Here on the Gold Coast Australia we spend all summer on over crowded points and beach breaks with crowds only getting worse, cheers Jamie

    • Hi Jamie, Yes, all Hawaii surf spots are crowded and there are kooks, just like most surfing spots around the World. Unfortunately, because Hawaii is so small I don’t think there are any uncrowded spots, but I could be wrong.

      Thanks for the comments and dropping in!

  2. A couple of your photos show some serious waves that I can see why people who want to surf would be there.

    I think it is pretty amazing what some people can do and although I’m not a surfer I would love to try it out in some of the smaller wave locations for beginners.

    Most of all Hawaii would make for a great vacation to check out the real pros and see them surf the larger waves.

    Great article!

    • Hi Travis, Once I tried to get to the North Shore to watch the surfers on those massive waves. I traveled about 1 mile in a 2 hour stretch and gave up the notion, but it would have been amazing to see surfers on these massive waves.

      Thanks for the comments and dropping in!

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