Best Oahu Beaches for Beginner Surfers
No board, no problems. Surfboard rentals are plentiful here in Oahu. | Photo by Scott Cameron
Surfing has been a big part of Hawaii’s culture for centuries and in this article, you’ll discover some of the best Oahu beaches for beginner surfers. Because it’s never too late to start! After all, surfing is a fun activity that not only challenges you physically, but also mentally.
By the way…
If you’re interested in more than surfing while you’re visiting Oahu, I invite you to check out our ShakaGuide audio tours. They’ll guide you all over this magnificent island showing you some sweet expert and beginner surfer spots as well as other attractions too.
Now let’s get to it, shall we?
Where Did Surfing Get It’s Start?
Did you know surfing originated in Polynesia? It doesn’t come as a surprise, really. In Hawaiian, surfing is called “He Nalu”, which literally means “to slide on waves”. The art was perfected in ancient Hawaii, back in the 8th century. Both men and women took part to the activity, and their mastery of waves astonished the first Englishmen who set foot on the island, in the 18th century.
After more and more westerners started moving to Hawaii, the tradition of surfing came under attack. Many of it saw it as a sign of laziness, and most importantly, immodesty.
What's so immodest about surfing?
Well, everyone surfed topless back then, including the women.
And, as you can imagine, it didn’t sit well with the missionaries’ conservative views. Surfing became even more rare when diseases such as small pox and measles wiped out more than 85% of the native population. In fact, for a hundred years, this ancient and beautiful tradition died.
That is until the 20th century…
You see, when Hawaii turned into a popular tourist destination, everyone who visited the island was fascinated by the idea of riding the waves and practicing the “Sport of Kings”, as they called it.
Surfing during sunset | Photo by Montse PB
The Best Oahu Surf Spots For Beginners
As you probably know already, Oahu Island is the home to countless mesmerizing beaches. A lot of them make for perfect surfing spots. Plus, they have surfing schools around for the beginners who want to try out surfing on this legendary island.
Laie Beach Park
Also nicknamed Pounders’ Beach by the locals, Laie Beach Park offers a fun and enjoyable surfing experience for everyone. It’s a looker too, with its white sand and turquoise water. Known for its year-round high waves, Laie Beach Park is a great place to practice your surfing skills, especially during the winter season.
Riding the waves | Photo by Daniel Ramirez
Waikiki Beach may be one of the most well known beaches in the world! As a staple of the island’s cultural and athletic history, Waikiki Beach is what I call a surfer’s paradise. This long stretch of golden sand and light blue waters is the perfect surfing spot during the hot summer months. You can rent beginner-friendly foam longboards there, and try your chances with the waves.
(And don’t miss out on the panoramic view on Oahu’s landscape while you’re there!)
Diamond Head is well know for it's dramatic views and good surf. | Photo by Daniel Ramirez
Diamond Head is the perfect beach for beginners. The waves are long and mellow, which will give you a relaxing and stress-free experience as someone who just started surfing. The aesthetics aren’t half bad either, as the beach’s natural beauty is one of the most mesmerizing on the island.
Check out some Mickey’s Surf Schools there and get ready to have some fun!
Where To Spot The Pro Surfers In Oahu
Pipeline is a mecca for the world's professional surfers--exciting to watch even from shore! Photo by Cpl. Megan L. Stiner
If you’re more of a watcher and less of a practitioner of the art, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!
Banzai Pipeline Beach
This is a legendary surf beach, also known as Ehukai Beach. Famous for its waves that curl like a pipe, the local surfers decided to rename it the Banzai Pipeline Beach. This is one of the deadliest surf beaches in the world. Yet, every winter, hundreds of professional surfers from all over the world flock there to surf their heart out.
So, if you want to see some real hardcore action, head to Banzai Pipeline Beach. You can even watch the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing there, the world’s biggest surfing competition.
Waimea Bay Beach Park
Another beach where you can spot experienced surfers take on huge 30-foot waves is Waimea Beach Park. Deemed for experts only, it can be quite dangerous, especially during the winter. If you’re there during the summer months though, you can enjoy its mellow waters and learn how to ride the waves.
Waves rolling | Photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder
As its name suggests, Sunset Beach has some incredibly beautiful sunsets that will leave you in awe. But, it’s also famous for its booming surfing scene. Situated in the North Shore, this spot is definitely worth visiting--especially if you’re a surfing enthusiast. Pick up your longboard and gear, and go enjoy the impressive waves of Sunset Beach.
Much like many beaches on the North Shore, the waves can be quite impressive.
Surfing In Oahu – FAQ
Are there prerequisites for taking a surfing lesson?
You don’t need to have experience to take surfing lessons in Oahu. You can find lessons for beginners just about everywhere on the island.
Don’t have a surfboard?
No worries! You can just rent them at the surfing school.
Can young children take surfing lessons?
Absolutely! Some schools require them to take a one on one lesson, or to be accompanied by an adult. But yes, everyone can learn how to surf, even kids.
Is it okay to surf if I don’t know how to swim?
Most surfing schools can provide you with life jackets. Still, it’s always a plus to learn how to swim, especially if you want to take on surfing seriously.
What should I bring to a surfing lesson?
If you have your own board and equipment, you can bring them. But you don’t have to. What’s indispensable, though, is a swimming suit, a towel, and sunscreen. Always prepare those before your surfing lesson.
Surfing during the south swell | Photo by Daniel Ramirez
Ready To Face The Waves?!
I think so! Good thing we’ve discovered some great beaches together and learned more about the Sport of Kings and the history of surfing. I hope you’ll take on the challenge and surf the waves of Oahu’s many beautiful beaches. And when you do, remember to tag your sweet pics with #ShakaGuide!