Surfing was born and reinvented in Hawaii. Here on Kauai, thanks to a steep drop-off around the island’s shelf and a steady barrage of clean, uninterrupted swells from the North Pacific, we have some of the best surfing around. On your next visit, make sure to try surfing in Kauai whether you’re:
While Hawaii does not go through the four seasons like the rest of the U.S., there are still seasons here. The winter brings large waves, migrating humpback whales, and lots of rain, while the summer is drier with less consistent trade winds. From May to October, the best Kauai surfing is found on the South Shore thanks to consistent swells perfect for all skill levels (and great for beginners). In winter, when the big waves come calling, the North Shore is the spot to be for advanced surfers (though beginners can find sheltered breaks as well).
Besides a plethora of attractions, Kauai is also a prime destination for water sports. A word of caution: Kauai’s beaches and surf breaks are a great way to spend a day on the water, but they can be treacherous. Always check the conditions, use the buddy system, and never go out if you are out of your comfort zone or skill level. There are plenty of other beaches and Kauai surf spots for you to enjoy! If surfing is not your cup of tea, make sure to try stand-up paddle boarding.
Them’s the Breaks
While not as famous as the North Shore surf breaks of Oahu or Maui, Kauai boasts its own world-class surf breaks. Surfers of all skill levels flock to Hanalei Bay where the waves are steady and the scenery – with 4,000-foot cliffs lining the half-moon beach – is legendary. Beginners are usually comfortable on the gentle waves that line the pier, though winter conditions can quickly make them much larger. Elsewhere, Cannons and Kalihiwai Point offer epic waves and often pristine conditions, though they are off the beaten path and not for beginners.
If you are new to surfing, don’t worry. There are plenty of ideal spots to learn and practice. After Hanalei Bay, one of the most popular surfing spots in Kauai is Anahola Beach on the East Shore. While currents at the mouth of the river can be strong at times, the surfing to the north is consistent and gentle, and the sandy beach and swimming area is great for kids. Anini Beach in Princeville also offers protected conditions.
Here, a 2-mile long reef creates a sheltered lagoon, but breaks in the reef at the edges feature clean breaks that won’t wear out beginners. Plus, floating on your board in the inside lagoon and watching tropical fish is as relaxing as all get out. On the South Shore, Poipu Beach is quite popular with beginners because of its gentle, slow break playfully named Lemon Drops. The less playful breaks of Acid Drop and Heroins are for advanced surfers, as you might have guessed.
Depending on the season, your skill level, and the conditions, there are plenty of amazing surf spots in Kauai. Check in with your local surf shop, the concierge at your Arrived vacation rental, or one of the excellent online surf sites (this is just one) for more information and real-time conditions, then make the most of your time in paradise while you master the ancient Hawaiian art of surfing!
Photo By Paul Bica – https://www.flickr.com/photos/dexxus/5621252335/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15570762