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, we'll share 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 Shaka Guide 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 Its 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 immodesty.
What was 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 killed 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.
If you’re a beginner surfer who’s never tried the sport before, I recommend checking out some of the surf schools around the beach, such as North Shore Surf Lessons or Uncle Bryan’s Sunset Suratt Surf Academy.
Riding the waves | Photo by Daniel Ramirez
Waikiki Beach may be one of the most well known beaches in the world, but did you know it's also one of the best beaches on Oahu for beginner surfers? This long stretch of golden sand and gentle waves is the perfect surfing spot all year round. You can rent beginner-friendly foam longboards there, and try your chances with the waves. As a staple of the island’s cultural and athletic history, Waikiki Beach is what I call a surfer’s paradise.
(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!
Check out some Mickey’s Surf Schools there and get ready to have some fun!
RELATED: 5 Family-Friendly Hikes on Oahu
Where To Spot The Pro Surfers In Oahu
If you’re more of a watcher and less of a practitioner of the art, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!
Pipeline is a mecca for the world's professional surfers--exciting to watch even from shore! Photo by Cpl. Megan L. Stiner
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 of the best in world in the midst of real hardcore action, head to Pipeline.
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 go for a swim.
As its name suggests, Sunset Beach has some incredibly beautiful sunsets that will leave you in awe. But, it’s also famous for its surf scene. Situated in the North Shore, this spot is definitely worth visiting -- especially if you’re a surfing enthusiast.
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 if you want to learn more about surfing in Hawaii, check out Shaka Guide's Legendary North Shore Loop which takes you to famous surf spots and teaches you about the sport's history.