Best Surf Spots on O‘ahu You Have to Paddle Out At
From the east to the west coast, the best surf spots on O‘ahu are known for their beauty as well as their breaks. With over 100 named surf spots suitable for all tastes and all levels, these are the beaches you must head to if you’re looking for the next new wave.
Although we strive to provide the most current information, parks and beaches mentioned may be closed or operate with reduced hours without notice. We recommend checking City and County of Honolulu or State of Hawai‘i mandates and individual websites for updates and social distancing measures before visiting.
Known for its consistent surf year-round, Waikiki Beach waves tend to pick up more in the summer months as ocean swells arrive from the South Pacific. The two-mile stretch of beach on O‘ahu’s south shore is divided into eight distinct sections, all of which you can read more about here. Spots like Ala Moana Bowls and Kaisers are the most popular among advanced surfers, while Three’s, Canoes, and Queens have more mellow breaks, which are perfect for beginners!
Diamond Head Cliffs
Also on O‘ahu’s south shore, Diamond Head Cliffs benefits from the reliable south swells, while also picking up on the east wind swells. The force creates excellent left and right handed breaking surf waves. While the surf is more powerful than neighboring Waikiki, Cliffs is still suitable for beginners depending on the size of the faces (the part of a wave that has not broken yet). If the face picks up over head high, the Cliffs gatekeeper only allows advanced surfers out on the water. Reach the Cliffs by taking the long walk down the side of Diamond Head and the even longer paddle out to the waves.
Puaʻena Point Beach Park
While the North Shore is known for its legendary surf breaks (we’ll get to a few of them next!), the laid-back stretch of coast is also home to Puaʻena Point Beach Park, which has some of the most beginner-friendly breaks on O‘ahu. Puaʻena is a protected cove, which allows mellow waves that don't break too fast to flourish.
North Shore Surf Beaches
The North Shore is where it’s at in the winter months (November through March), as waves averaging 36 to 50 feet in size attract professionals from all around the world. Even if your surf skills aren’t quite as advanced, these North Shore beaches are fun to check out no matter the time of year. Sunset Beach and Haleiwa’s Ali’i Beach host contests in the legendary Triple Crown of Surfing Championships, Waimea Bay hosts the world’s most prestigious big-wave surfing competition, ‘In Memory of Eddie Aikau’, and ‘Ehukai Beach is home of the famous Banzai Pipeline surf break.
Makaha Beach Park
Located on O‘ahu's leeward coast, Makaha has consistent waves with breaks year-round. Summer is a fun time to surf the four peaks, Point, Bowl, Blowhole, and Inside Reef, but strong winter waves reach 25 feet and are best suited for seasoned surfers. The surfing haven attracts quite the crowd, so expect to get dropped in on!
Love getting in the water? With the right information, you can ensure that you’re enjoying O‘ahu’s beaches in the best (and safest) way possible. Go Hawai‘i has created a series of videos to help you do just that. Check out their Ocean Safety Tips, where local water safety experts and a world champion surfer encourage you to check on conditions ahead of time, visit beaches with a lifeguard, and recognize common ocean hazards.
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