Best Surfing in Kauai: 5 Top Places to Hang 10

November 5, 2022

The Coconut Coast, pearl white beaches, sawtoothed cliffs—ah, the devastating beauty of Kauai!

An adrenaline-spiking addition to the Kauai appeal is year-round surfing with absurdly perfect conditions for both beginners and experienced surfers.

The unique island is euphoric seventh heaven for surfers who defy gravity when they balance, paddle, and pop up!

Grab your longboard, and let's explore the best surfing beaches in Kauai!

Why Surf Kauai?

Firstly, besides being the most resplendent of all the Hawaii islands, Kauai is more rural, intimate, and less populated than the other isles. An outdoor enthusiast's dream, Kauai's impressive beach parks provide endless hiking and biking trails and water sports like snorkeling and whale watching. Certainly, the spellbinding beaches are captivating, but the surfing areas are some of the best in the world.

Pro Tip: You’ve heard Kauai has rad swells all year long. However, the winter months host the biggest waves from November to April, bringing consistent north winds, while the summer month swells are better in the south. The north swells are less safe for beginners but the ultimate ride for experienced surfboarders.

No need to google "beginner surfing beaches near me." We'll spill the beans on the best Kauai surfing beaches and Kauai surf spots for beginners.

Check out the surf school homework below—it's off the hook!

Surfer Riding Wave

photo credit: Thomas Ashlock via Unsplash

Top 5 Best Places to Surf Kauai

When you visit the islands, taking a surf lesson is a rite of passage. It's daunting to learn to surf Kauai for sure, but we have key insight on where to go, which surf schools are best, and what most surfers know – timing is everything. There are Kauai beginner surf spots all over the island, but when to go and with whom is crucial. Most importantly, never surf alone!

Kauai surf lessons are always the best idea, or if you have an expert friend who can hunt out a beginner-friendly spot and teach a dry land practice, you're probably in good shape.

Professional surfers have been clamoring on the beaches of Kauai for decades due to the offshore winds and ample ground swells that provide high surfs year-long. While the more advanced and experienced surfers tend to hit north shore hotspots like Hanalei Bay, Kalihiwai, Kealia and Haena, they are also ideal for beginners. Winters on the north shore will have the giant waves of anywhere on the island and then bottom out to flat tides in the summer months.

Hanalei Bay

Nicknamed the Crown Jewel of the north shore, Hanalei Bay is a paramount place to learn to hang ten with safe surf breaks up and down its two-mile coast. Beginner surfers flock to Hanalei Bay for the shallow sandy bottom, gentle swells, and perfect conditions.

The gorgeous crescent-shaped beach offers stunning sunsets with backlit majestic mountain peaks. The Hanalei Pier, a historical landmark, hosts charming gift shops, delicious bistros, and pubs. Also, it's simply the best water sports experience on the north shore for surfing, swimming, snorkeling, and visitors who want to try a stand-up paddleboard.

With different swells to suit all skill levels, it's a beginner surf Kauai dream. The bay offers numerous Hanalei surf lessons if you're searching for Kauai surfing. Additionally, the Hanalei Surf School gives a 90-minute course that includes a surfboard, rashguard, and leash. Instructors teach individual classes or private party bookings with friends.

Hanalei is the best beach for beginner surfers because of the user-friendly waves next to the pier. It also highlights more challenging sandbars and reef breaks for the more advanced.

Aerial drone shot of Hanalei bay and beach on the north shore of Kauai in HawaiiKahili Beach

Along the eastern shore, Kahili Beach (aka Rock Quarry) is one of the best beginner surfing spots in Kauai, with huge swells due to the lack of an outer reef. However, this can mean greater risk on certain days, so beginners should always go in pairs with a more experienced surfer.

Located near Kilauea, Kahili is known for its constant winds and massive waves. That said, it might not be idyllic for beginner surfing Kauai, though students can still practice paddling into waves and standing on their boards. You'll also find the on-site Learn to Surf School, where you can rent a board and take a lesson.

The southern shores have several excellent options for more mid-level waves, with the best surfing in Kauai for beginners. Kiahuna, Poipu, and Kalapaki are prime surf destinations during the traditional summer months.

Drop in, pull back and kick out! Whatever you do, keep reading our surfing Kauai options, and before long, you'll be riding the big waves and crushing it!

green waves with mild surf coming up onto the sand at kahili beach kauai

Photo Credit: Erik Ebeling via Facebook

Poipu Beach

Another surfers' haven that tops most of the best beginner surfer spots is Poipu Beach on the west coast of the isle. This celebrated south shore destination is internationally recognized for world-class resorts and savory restaurants. The reef provides excellent snorkeling and a protected swimming area for families with small children.

But if it's surfing, you're after the consistent southern swells, which extends ample summertime opportunities. Poipu is another beach that accommodates surfers of all levels with perfect beginner waves in winter or summer.

Similarly, the local Poipu Beach School offers Poipu surf lessons year-round to all levels of students. No matter your surfing experience, the instructors, prioritize safety with no more than four surfers per teacher.

Fun Fact: November and February are the best times to see big wave surfing. The massive waves can sometimes swell up to thirty feet or more—dangerous even for experienced surfers—so always heed warning signs! Other schools that present surf lessons at Poipu Beach Kauai are the popular Aloha Surf Lessons, the Hawaiian Style Surfing, and the Kauai Surf School.

So, whether you plan to hang five, hang ten or hang eleven (we won't tell…), let the glassy overhead waves roar as you catch your first ride! With a lifeguard on duty seven days a week, you can rest a little easier on Poipu, knowing you're in good hands. Moreover, this family-friendly beach features a horseshoe reef break for the more advanced surfers.

Keep scrolling for the gnarliest beginner surf spots in Kauai.

woman surfing with blue surfboard at Pro Surf School in Oahu, Hawaii, USA

photo credit: pixabay

Kalapaki Beach

Another ideal surfing Kauai beginner's choice is Kalapaki Beach. This sandy shore, situated in a sheltered cove, is near the quaint town of Lihue. The steady, mellow waves here dip and roll, making it easy to get up on your board and stay there. In addition, novice surfers can practice their skills year-round on the sandy breaks. These calming conditions provide supple learning opportunities, and the south shore's tepid waters are great for swimming and snorkeling.

For more unusual things to do in the charming town of Lihue, check out "10 Unique Things to Do in Lihue Hawaii."

The beach's appeal is variety—with catamaran rentals, beach apparel shops, and countless restaurants, there's something for everyone in your group. With on-site surfboard rentals and eco-helicopter tours, Kalapaki hosts a wide range of visitor accommodations. In addition, the Kauai Beach Boys provide services such as stand-up paddleboard rentals and surf lessons.

After shooting the curl, sip a Mai Tai and pat yourself on the back for tackling one of the most extreme sports in the world!

surfers on the ocean coast of a hawaiian island in Hawaii, USAPolihale

For adventurers seeking a surf respite off the beaten path, the crystalline Polihale beach is an ideal choice. Situated on the west side of the Kauai at the foot of the magnificent Napali Coast, 100-foot-high dunes surround this magical cove. In addition, most suggest using a four-wheel-drive vehicle to access the beach for the bumpy, sometimes muddy roads.

Polihale is open to surf at all times, and with numerous beach breaks, the beach has a reasonably consistent surf year-round. However, experts say wintertime is best to surf with winter swells, offshore winds, and multiple peaks. Of course, surfing Kauai beginners should watch for solid currents during prime times and know a reef does not protect this beach. Polihale is a more advanced selection for surfers with a bit more experience. Safety is a crucial component of becoming a proficient surfer. When in doubt, don't go out!

For swimming and snorkeling, head to the southwestern edge of the beach.

Fun Fact: Polihale is the site of ancient temple ruins where departing souls left their earthly plane. Polihale means "House of the Underworld" in Hawaiian.

ground view of cliffs and ocean at Polihale Beach State Park in Kauai, Hawaii, USA

Polihale Beach State Park

Where to Stay in Kauai

If you're searching for a romantic island getaway with tropical paradise vibes, Kauai is home to various resorts and lodgings. Tripster has the best online hotel rates, with easy bookings and instant confirmation.

Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay

Splurge on a beachfront stay along the Coconut Coast at the Hilton Garden Inn Kauai. Yolo baby! It's a short walk from Wailua Bay and features two outdoor pools, a hot tub, and a poolside bar.

Kauai Beach Resort & Spa

This beautiful Garden Isle destination is set on a Hawaiian plantation-style hotel between Kauai's north and south shores. Nestled between the majestic mountains and the turquoise sea, the Kauai Beach Resort & Spa is surrounded by lush, tranquil gardens on every side.

A photograph of a resort and spa taken near sunset, with the pool, large yard, and building visible. 

photo credit: Kauai Beach Resort & Spa via Facebook

Book Your Kauai Surf Trip Today!

Experience the sport of kings on your next Kauai vacation. Remember, where you surf has a lot to do with ever-changing surf conditions. Learn to read the water before you dive in, and always check with a lifeguard if there is one on hand. Congratulations, you're officially on dawn patrol!

Also, Kauai is the ideal island paradise if you're looking for a less touristy, tropical destination with off-the-charts surfing and plenty of outdoor activities. Don't wait for a rainy day to start planning this surfing trip of a lifetime! And keep in mind, a bad day surfing is better than a good day working!

Remember, Tripster can also help you with Kauai things to do, like kayak tours, luaus, and sunset dinner cruises. All these added activities ensure the best experience with lasting memories.

Did We Miss Any Surf Kauai Tips?

Please post your best beginner surfing Kauai adventures!


close up of Erin smiling on a sunny day

Written By Erin

Erin Poche` is a Utah-based writer and editor for Tripster and contributing writer for BeyondType1. She also writes and edits for an indie publisher of fanta ...

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