Updated: October 10, 2022
When you visit Hawaii, learning how to surf has got to be on the top of your list. But when you’re new to an island, it can be hard to know which surf schools and which surfing lessons are the best. Check out these top Hawaii surf schools by island, great for beginners, advanced surfers, and everyone in between.
Oahu is the most popular destination for professional surfers in Hawaii, with the big-wave season on the North Shore starting in November and finishing in February. In the summer all the action moves to the South Shore where the waves can be big but are rarely too challenging. For beginners, Waikiki is popular year round, as the beaches have plenty of amenities and the waters are calm, but you can find great beginner surf lessons all over the island.
#1 – Surf HNL Ala Moana
Popular among locals and tourists alike, Ala Moana has everything you need. This white-sand beach has calm waters and lots of green park space, making it perfect for family outings. It also gets less crowded than nearby Waikiki, making it a great spot for surf lessons. Their lessons last from 1 to 2 hours, depending on your preference, and can be private or group—but the instructor to student ratio is low no matter what.
Choose this Hawaii surfing school for: Family surfing in Honolulu
Beach: Ala Moana Beach Park
Crystal clear turquoise water and coral reefs make Maui one of the most popular holiday destinations of the Hawaiian archipelago. Though Oahu is more popular among professional surfers, Maui still has lots of great surfing spots to discover and is a perfect place for beginners to catch their first wave.
With regular surf breaks and long sandy beaches, Maui’s south shore is popular among surfers year round. Based in Kihei, Maui Sports Unlimited offers classes for every level, from beginner to advanced. Beginner lessons are held on Kalama Beach Park, also known as the Cove, and considered the best beginner beach on the island. Multi-day lessons are available if you are really looking to take your surfing to the next level.
Choose this Hawaii surfing school for: Intermediate-advanced surfing
Beach: Kalama Beach Park
The youngest of all the Hawaiian islands, the Big Island isn’t really known for its surfing. Visitors usually come for volcano hikes, stargazing, and rainforest expeditions since the beaches here can be rugged and treacherous due to lava rocks. But wherever you are in Hawaii, surfing is always an option. Kona on the west side is best for beginners while Hilo on the east side is reserved for experienced surfers only.
Kahalu’u Bay Surf & Sea’s group surfing lesson has a low student-to-instructor ratio and can accommodate surfers of all levels, including beginners. The lesson starts off at the surf shop with safety tips and surfing basics before moving into the warm, clear blue waters of Kahalu’u Bay. They also have private and semi-private options. All the gear you’ll need—soft-top longboards, rash guards, and booties—will be provided, so you’ll just need to bring a swimsuit, towel, and sunscreen, and be ready to surf!
Choose this Hawaiian surfing school for: Highest rated reviews, surf with family and friends
Beach: Kahalu’u Bay Beach
With pristine white sand beaches and an abundance of tropical vegetation, Kauai is the perfect island for a quiet and relaxing vacation. While many come to soak up the sun and enjoy the beach, this “garden island” is perfect for water sports as well.
Falling between Poipu Beach and Lawai Beach, Kiahuna is a great beach for beginner surf lessons. The water is a beautiful ocean blue and is relatively calm near the shore because of the outlying reefs. Hawaiian Style Surfing offers the Kauai’s Ultimate Group Surf Lesson, where you can meet other beginner surfers while trying out this incredible sport for the first time. Whether you book your group lesson with friends and family or with strangers, you’ll have a great time learning to surf in the company of others!
Choose this Hawaiian surfing school for: Beginner group lessons
Beach: Kiahuna Beach
Did you know that Hawaii has recently banned the use of sunscreens that aren’t considered reef safe? Check out our review of the best reef safe sunscreens to make sure you’re protecting yourself, and the environment.
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