Updated: November 14, 2019
A visit to any Hawaiian island is incomplete without taking a surfing lesson. This sport, once reserved for only Hawaiian kings, is now one of the most popular activities you can do on the water. But before you put on your suit and grab your board, take a moment to learn about the best surf lessons Oahu has to offer. The last thing you want to do on your relaxing Hawaiian vacation is end up on a beach with breaks that will eat you for breakfast. Check out these top beginner surf lessons in Oahu!
Haleiwa, Oahu’s North Shore
Imagine surfing in a town built for surfers and away from crowds. That’s what’s waiting for you in Sea & Board Sports in Haleiwa on Oahu’s North Shore. This little town stands out with its rustic architecture and quaint surf shops. It’s also—despite being on the North Shore—home to some of the friendliest waves. Sea & Board’s lessons take place off Chun’s Reef, known for being a great spot for beginner surfers, with low and long waves. Chun’s Reef has some rocky patches, but your lessons will take place in the sandy spots, and this is one of the most affordable options on the island.
Beach: Chun’s Reef
Choose this for: affordable lessons on the North Shore
#2 – Gone Surfing Hawaii
If you believe in less work and more surf, then Gone Surfing is the place for you. Located on beautiful Waikiki Beach, their licensed instructors spend 15 minutes on the beach limbering you up before getting you right into the water. They offer classes for all levels, whether you’re a beginner or just someone looking to improve your skills, their semi-private surfing lessons will be great for you and your group. It doesn’t hurt that after the lesson you’re in Waikiki where you can take in the sunset and enjoy the vibrant night life.
Beach: Waikiki Beach
Choose this for: convenient lessons on Waikiki Beach
#3 – Surf HNL Kapolei
How do you feel about having the entire beach for yourself? With Surf HNL in Kapolei you can have the most private surf lesson Oahu has to offer. Their lessons take place on Nimitz Beach, popular with locals but otherwise not very busy. And while there are a lot of rocky areas, the instructors will direct you to the sandy parts so you can easily get into the water. This lesson lasts 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.
Beach: Nimitz Beach
Choose this for: beginner lessons on a quiet beach in the Kapolei area
Koko Marina Center, Oahu
If you’re looking to have your first surfing lesson away from Waikiki—but don’t want to travel too far—Hawaiian Surf Adventures is for you. Operating out of Maunalua Bay close to Hanauma Bay east of Honolulu, this surf school is the only place where you can get authentic Oahu surf lessons in an isolated bay. Check out their beginner surf lessons offered daily at 9am. First-timers who are still battling the fear of the ocean will find that instructors here can change how they feel in just one day.
Beach: Maunalua Bay
Choose this for: beginner lessons in a secluded bay on the Southeast shore
#5 – Surf N Sea
Haleiwa, Oahu’s North Shore
Surf N Sea is a neat spot on Oahu’s North Shore. This surf shop has been open since the 1960s, and they’re housed in a rustic two-story wooden building that has been around since the 1920s. It doesn’t get any more classic Hawaiian than that! They offer great beginner surf lessons that last 2 1/2 hours long—where most other beginner lessons only last two. They’ll start with ocean safety before getting in the water—and be sure to listen carefully when the instructor offers up those highly coveted local tips you can’t get anywhere else.
Beach: Haleiwa Beach
Choose this for: affordable lessons on the North Shore with extra time to learn
#6 – Surf HNL Ala Moana
The most popular place to go surfing on Oahu is Ala Moana Beach Park. Centrally located between two other gorgeous beaches, Sunset and Makaha, this beach attracts surfers from all over the world. Even so, this place rarely gets crowded like the Waikiki beaches do. Reserve a lesson with Surf HNL and experience the joy of surfing in these calm waters. These instructors will start your lesson with some training on the beach and then move into the water. They use longboards to make your first experience easier and offer hotel pick up for extra convenience.
Beach: Ala Moana Beach Park
Choose this for: convenient surf lessons near Waikiki with hotel pick up option
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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