Surfing Lessons on Oahu, What You Need To Know

Surfing Lessons on OahuYou could always check out my page “Getting Started,” purchase a surfboard and then hit the beach, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that.  If you have a spouse, family member, girlfriend, boyfriend, friend or acquaintance, who is an experienced surfer, and is willing to show you the ropes then that would be the ideal set-up in learning how to surf.

However, not all of us know of someone in our circle of friends, family and acquaintances who is a surfer plus willing to teach.  So, the next best thing, would be to get lessons from a surf school.  But not all surf schools are created equal and some are downright bad.   Since I live in Hawaii and more specifically on the island of Oahu, I will be concentrating on getting surfing lessons on Oahu.

Though I will be concentrating on Island of Oahu, these suggestions can be used for any location and any surf school.  My recommended surf schools, however and unfortunately, are location based.

What do you want to get out of the lesson?

You need to consider what you wish to get out of the surfing lesson?  Are you only interested in this being a one-time thing, and you just wish to stand-up on a couple of waves?  Or do you consider this the first step in a life long journey?  If the former is your intention then your selection of surf schools will be greater, however, if the latter is your objective then your choice of surf schools will definitely be reduced.

Surfing Lessons on OahuIf you wish your surfing lesson to be a one-time thing, most of the surf schools in Waikiki are perfect for your needs.  Most are set-up for the tourist, who they think, just want to say that they went surfing in Hawaii.  You won’t learn about the rules to surfing aka surf etiquette, the correct way to paddle, how to catch a wave, etc.  Make sure, if this is your choice of surf school, that they at the very least have a website, so that you can view their testimonials or do a search on Yelp to view their reputation.

The surf schools that are geared more towards, a first step in a life long journey, will most likely be found outside of the Waikiki area.  It is my experience, as well as some people I know, that these surf schools are more concerned with teaching you about surfing (e.g. surf etiquette, how to paddle, what wave to catch, etc.), than just getting you to stand-up on a wave, though they do make sure you do that also.  Later in this post, I will provide you with my recommendation for surf schools on Oahu.

Private or Group

You now need to decide if you want to take a private lesson or a group lesson.  If you’re only planning to surf once, then you should choose a group lesson.  Group lessons are cheaper but you won’t get very much personal attention.  Your instructor will be giving several other individuals surfing instructions, as well as yourself, so the instructor’s attention will have to be shared.

A private lesson, is the best way to go if you’re planning on surfing more than once.  A private lesson is more expensive but well worth the price, because the instructor’s full attention will be on you.  The instructor will be able to offer suggestions on your form, what waves to catch, teach you about surf etiquette, etc.  If you get in trouble or are too tired from paddling, the instructor will be there to help you and only you.

What do they offer?

Surfing Lessons on OahuWhen deciding which surf school to take your lessons from, you should also find out what they offer?  I don’t know of any school that doesn’t provide a surfboard, if you already own a board, you can always bring that board.  Most schools will also provide a rash guard, but if you intend to do this more than once, you may wish to purchase your own.  Some schools will offer to pick you up, if you don’t intend to rent a car, this could be an option to go for.  Oahu is a small island but you can get lost, the good thing is you know you won’t end up in another State.  If you use your phone’s GPS, your chances of getting lost on Oahu will be significantly reduced.

Some schools will offer a tour package, they’ll take you to various surfing sports and provide meals along the way.  This may be a good option if you wish to make your surfing lessons an all-day thing.   Some things to keep in mind, as a beginner, you don’t want to be surfing on the North Shore or West Shore of Oahu during the winter months, these are the months that Oahu gets the biggest surf of the year.  During the summer months the South Shore and East Shore of Oahu gets the summer swells.


I will provide some recommendations for Surf Schools on Oahu, these are schools that I know about personally or have heard good things about them.  This list is by no means the only good schools on Oahu and you should always do you own research.

I learned to surf from Surf Hawaii Surf School, Edison de Paula, was my instructor and I have nothing but praise for his school and his teaching methods.  He taught me about surf etiquette, where to sit (as a beginner) while waiting for waves, how to paddle, etc.  Great instructor with a lot of patience and some crazy paddling strength.  I also purchased my first surfboard from him.

I’ve heard very good things about Sunset Suzy Surf School and North Shore Surf Girls).  They will teach you surf etiquette, how to paddle, what waves to catch, etc.  You’ll learn more than how to stand-up when riding a wave.

In Conclusion

You can receive great or poor surfing lessons on Oahu, you should do your research before selecting a school.  You should also know what you want to get from your surf lessons, is this a one-time thing for you or is this the first step in a journey that will last a lifetime.  If this is a one-time thing, take a group lesson, if it isn’t, then a private lesson is the way to go.

Check out my post: “Famous Australian Surfers.”

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

4 thoughts on “Surfing Lessons on Oahu, What You Need To Know

  1. Hey Stuart,
    Just finished reading this post and it makes me wanna get into the water. There’s some really great and useful information here, especially for beginners.
    I live in Bondi Beach, and there are always people, both locals and tourists, who are learning to surf at the beach. I keep thinking I’ll give it a try one day, but I haven’t worked up the courage to start yet.
    Keep up the great work!

    • Hi Davby, When I was younger, I had no interest in learning how to surf and thought surfing was just not my thing. Australian has a great history with surfing and surfers, (check out my post “Famous Australian Surfers” I’m sure once you’re ready to surf and you try it, you’ll love it.

      Thanks for the comments and dropping in!

  2. I recently visited a place called Newquay in Cornwall (UK) for a short break, and I noticed a lot of surfers and also surfing shops in the town, that really got me thinking, and now I would love to learn how to surf 🙂

    Having beginner surfing lessons on Oahu sounds perfect to me. Thanks for some of your tips and your recommendation too because it really has given me some insights into surfing.


    • Hi Neil, You should give surfing a try! I remember watching one of my favorite TV shows, Top Gear, and the 3 hosts tried surfing in England, very funny! Won’t be watching that show now, since Jeremy, James and Richard left the show.

      Thanks for the comments and dropping in!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *