Big Island Hawaii Surf Spots

Of all the Hawaiian Islands, The Big Island is the one least associated
with surfing. That being said, it is Hawaii, so of course there will be surfing.
Many of the surfing spots on the Big Island are secret and, because the
island is so large and relatively unpopulated, they will likely remain a secret
for some time. Ask the locals where they surf and you’re likely to get the runaround. If you choose to explore on your own, a four-wheel drive vehicle is often the only way to access many of the remote surfing spots.

Known as the Orchid Isle, The Big Island is the youngest of the Hawaiian Islands and sits on an active volcano. In fact, it is still growing, and is already more than twice the size of all the other Hawaiian Islands put together. Kilauea Crater emits volcanic vapors that can produce some beautiful, fiery red sunsets; on the downside, when mixed with fog, this same vapor creates a Big Island phenomenon called “vog,” which can be a breathing hazard. And then there are the tremors and the earthquakes. That’s life on The Big Island, a mysterious, remote, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, and other-worldy “heaven on earth.”

Shane Dorian, a pro surfer with 11 years on the circuit, was born in Kona, as was Conan Hayes, a younger pro following in Shane’s footsteps. Supposedly, there is a spot in Kona that resembles Oahu’s Backdoor Pipe, although the exact location will not be revealed here. The first practical body board, officially called the Boogie Board, was tested on a Kona surfing beach called Honl’s by inventor, Tom Morey, in 1971.

On the Kailua-Kona (west) side of the island, Pine Trees is a regional classic for experienced surfers, and a local favorite that also has a bay area for beginners. The main spot in town frequented by local families is Banyans. Kahaluu Beach dishes up some fun waves for all surfers, and, teeming with green sea turtles and other marine life, is also a popular snorkeling spot.

If you’re looking for white sand beaches on the Big Island, you’ll have to head to Hapuna Beach along the Kohala Coast on the northwest side. Known as one of the best beaches in the entire world, Hapuna is great for swimming and snorkeling when the surf is calm. But when the waves are high, only expert surfers and bodyboarders should enter the water due to strong riptides and a heavily pounding shorebreak. The actual surf break is located further out from the beach, at Hapuna Point. If you’re really experienced and are able to make friends with local surfers, have them take you to the Kohala Lighthouse, a world-class, epic right and left reef break. But don’t go alone.

As it is with Hawaiian Island surfing in general, use caution and pay attention to posted warning signs. Since the island is so big, there may not be a lifeguard on duty even at a popular beach; always practice the buddy system.

BIg Island Hawaii Surf Breaks


West Shore - Kahaluu Beach Park

Surf Location Off of Alii Drive, near the Ohana Keahu Resort
Best Swell Direction West and Southwest
Best Tide All
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality Offers three sections of reef with lagoons in between. Each reef is farther out than the previous: the farther the reef, the bigger the waves will be. So, if you're looking for larger waves, paddle to the outer reefs. The first reef is a great wave for beginners.
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends
Boards Shortboard, funboard, longboard, stand-up paddle board
Paddle Out Moderate, watch where the locals paddle
Skill Level All
Bottom Reef and coral
Watch Out For... Sharp coral and rocks, riptide and undertow, sea urchins, localism
Water Condition Clean and clear
 

West Shore - Lymans

Surf Location Along the coastal road out of Kona
Best Swell Direction Northwest, Southwest
Best Tide All but high tide
Best Wind Direction Southeast, East
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality A fast and powerful left reef break
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends
Boards Shortboard, funboard, longboard, stand-up paddle board
Paddle Out Moderate, watch where the locals paddle
Skill Level All
Bottom Reef and coral
Watch Out For... Sharp rocks and coral, sea urchins
Water Condition Clean and clear

Lymans, Big Island, Hawaii - Surf Video

 

 

West Shore - Banyans

Surf Location In front of the Kona Bali Kai condominiums. You’ll see a Banyan tree.
Best Swell Direction West and Southwest
Best Tide Mid and High
Best Wind Direction Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality A hollow and ledgey right and left reef break
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends
Boards Shortboard, funboard, longboard, stand-up paddle board
Paddle Out Moderate, watch where the locals paddle
Skill Level Experienced
Bottom Reef and coral
Watch Out For... Sea urchins, sharp rocks and coral, localism
Water Condition Clean and clear
 

West Shore – Honl’s

Surf Location Off of Alii Drive
Best Swell Direction Northwest, Southwest
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction North
Best Surf Season Winter and Summer
Wave Quality An epic, hollow, fast and powerful right reef break
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends
Boards Shortboard, funboard, longboard, stand-up paddle board
Paddle Out Moderate, watch where the locals paddle
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Reef and coral
Watch Out For... Sharp rocks and sea urchins
Water Condition Clean and clear
 

West Shore – Pine Trees

Surf Location Just south of the airport, take Highway 19 west and turn left onto a dirt road where the Energy Lab is located
Best Swell Direction Northwest, West, Southwest
Best Tide All
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Summer and Winter
Wave Quality A right reef break, can be fun
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends
Boards Shortboard, funboard, longboard, stand-up paddle board
Paddle Out Moderate, watch where the locals paddle
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Reef and coral
Watch Out For... Sharp rocks and coral, sea urchins, riptide and undertow, localism
Water Condition Clean and clear
 

Northwest Shore – Hapuna Beach

Surf Location Road signs visible from Highway
Best Swell Direction Northwest
Best Tide All
Best Wind Direction Southeast, East
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality A short, hollow, fast and powerful right and left sandbar break
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends
Boards Shortboard, funboard, longboard, stand-up paddle board
Paddle Out Moderate, watch where the locals paddle
Skill Level All
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For... Riptide and undertow, localism
Water Condition Clean and clear
 

Northwest Shore – Kohala Lighthouse

Surf Location Located on the northwest side of the island, a secret spot where you will need a local guide
Best Swell Direction North, Northwest, Northeast
Best Tide All, but high tide will save you from the reef
Best Wind Direction South, Southeast, East
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality An epic, powerful, long, fast and hollow right and left reef break
The Surfers This is a private beach that is hard to find. There is very heavy localism there, so, mind your manners when surfing.
Boards Shortboard, funboard, longboard, stand-up paddle board
Paddle Out Moderate, watch where the locals paddle
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Flat rocks
Watch Out For... Strong riptides and undertows, sea urchins, sharp rocks
Water Condition Clean and clear
 

East Side – Honolii

Surf Location On Highway 19 out of Hilo, you’ll see a cemetery. Take the road on the right after the cemetery to the end, then take a left where you see all the cars
Best Swell Direction East, Northeast
Best Tide All
Best Wind Direction West, Southwest, South
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality A hollow, fast, powerful and ledgey right and left rivermouth break; a consistent regional classic
The Surfers Can get really crowded on weekends
Boards Shortboard for the slab. Any board for the rivermouth left.
Paddle Out Moderate, watch where the locals paddle
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Large rocks
Watch Out For... Sharp rocks, localism, tiger sharks
Water Condition Clean and clear

Honoli'i, Big Island, Hawaii - Surf Video

 

 

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