When it comes to Hawaii, there’s no way to get around talking about surfing. It makes sense, after all – when your home is surrounded by water, the water becomes a great place to have fun and relax. Surfing and Hawaii have been intimately linked since their inception, as the art of surfing originated in the Polynesian immigrants to Hawaii and has persisted for many centuries. The northern island of Kauai is famous for its surf, and we’re going to go a bit more in-depth about the best places to surf in Kauai.
Before we get to the list, it’s of course important to note that the ‘best’ place will depend on the day, and on what you’re looking for. A newbie surfer probably won’t have a great time with 10 foot waves, after all! This list is in no particular order.
1) Poipu Beach
This beach was once famously dubbed the ‘best beach in America,’ and it’s not hard to see why. The coveted location on the south shore of the island not only gives Poipu Beach a great view and great waves, but is also located near the commercial district for the area. A great place to hit some waves and then go to eat or shop afterwards. It is a very popular beach, which is bad and good – great to visit, but you might find the waves a little bit crowded.
2) Hanalei Beach
In contrast to the first entry on the list, Hanalei enjoys the distinction of being a smaller, more quiet side of the island. Where Poipu is great for locals and tourists alike, Hanalei has a bit more of a relaxed vibe and sees less traffic by day. Hanalei Beach is part of the town of Hanalei, so it isn’t without a business or two, but the commercial expansion isn’t nearly as significant as some of the more popular beaches.
3) Lihue (and surrounding area)
Lihue serves as both the seafaring and air-faring hub of Kauai, which makes it likely the most busy area on the list. This isn’t the place where you go to shred giant waves, but you’ll still find a variety of good surf spots in town, especially if you’re into more alternative forms of surfing such as bodysurfing or windsurfing. As for strict board-and-waves surfing, you can probably find better places on the island (but it makes a great trip for a group of surfers with varying skill levels.)
4) Makua Beach
Now this is the kind of beach that probably comes to mind when you think of surfing beaches. Located not too far from Hanalei, Makua fades from a gentle to shore into more aggressive waves just a little ways out. Now do be warned – this area is viewed as an experts-only zone, due in part to the highly dangerous reefs in the area that pose a risk to surfers. If you’re a novice or unsure of yourself on the board, you’re likely better off at one of the other three beaches on the list. Makua Beach is a beautiful place with beautiful waves, but you are facing a difficult challenge if you surf there.
Surfing in Kauai is really as easy as picking a beach and going there, since the island is surrounded on all sides by great waves, but you’re best off looking into the beach beforehand to make sure there aren’t any secret pitfalls (like a dangerous reef.) These beaches are some of the best places to surf in Kauai, but far from the only places! You’re always a moment away from good surf on the island of Kauai.