Many surfers head straight to the island of Oahu on their Hawaii surf pilgrimage, but the main island itself is home to a gorgeous stretch of surfing coast, most notably around the quaint town of Kailua-Kona.
Kailua-Kona is renowned for its breathtaking coastline and vibrant marine life, but it’s also the best place to surf on Hawaii’s largest island. This section of the island’s western coast is home to some of the best reef breaks on the entire archipelago, while the surrounding palm trees and charming coastal towns set the ideal backdrop for some tropical surf.
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Best Surfing Beaches in Kailua-Kona
Also known as Magic Sands Beach, or Disappearing Beach, due to the ever-changing presence of sand on this small beach in the middle of town, is ideal for beginners looking to gently introduce themselves to the waves. It’s a good spot to go bodyboarding and to practice your pop-ups in a calmer environment.
Kahalu’u Bay is one of the central surf hubs of this part of Hawaii, catering to surfers of pretty much all skill levels. The reef break provides consistent waves and there are plenty of surf shops and schools nearby. This is a great spot for beginners and intermediates, as well as people wanting to socialise and be part of the wider Kailua-Kona surf community.
A little further north is Kohanaiki, also known as Pine Trees, which is one of the region’s most renowned surf spots. This is the kind of place where you might even spot some seriously high-level or even famous surfers. That said, the waves here still cater to all skill levels, partly thanks to a beautiful sandy bottom break, perfect novice surfers. The laid-back atmosphere here makes it a favourite spot for many local surfers.
Lyman’s Surf Spot
Speaking of locals, this little nook along the town’s main front is also a favourite among members of the Kailua-Kona surf community. It’s a pretty exposed spot and the left break generates some seriously good surf. Winter is an especially tasty time to hit the waves here, due to the north-facing swells, but it’s still a year-round spot either way.
Also along the same stretch as Kahalu’u, La’aloa and Lyman’s, this thrilling little surf spot was voted to be within the top waves in all of Hawaii by Freesurf Magazine. This time it’s the right-sided reef breaks that generates all of the excitement, with pro surfers often popping down to ride its intensely barreling waves. Other stretches off the beach offer good surf too, though, particularly for beginners who can build confidence on the left side. The beach gets its name from the corresponding beachfront hotel – an ideal place to stay for passionate surf tourists.
Surfing Lessons in Kailua-Kona
If you’re new to surfing, or even if you’re spent some time on the waves but need to build on confidence and technique, then booking yourself a lesson is always a fulfilling experience. It is remarkable how much you can pick-up from a couple of sessions with a certified instructor, and those foundational skills will stick with you for the rest of your surfing journey.
Instructors are almost always super friendly people who are super passionate about surfing and love to share their passion with others. You’ll be in good hands, with direct access to the people who know more about these waves than anyone else. What’s more, taking part in a lesson can be a great way to meet new people, who are often like-minded and on a similar stage of their surfing development.
You can usually opt for more expensive, tailor-made private lessons or more sociable group lessons, while some places even offer multi-day surf camps, accommodation included. There are a string of great shop and schools offering lessons around the Kailua-Kona area, but we particularly recommend Hawai’i Lifeguard Surf Instructors, Kona Town Surf Adventures and Kahalu’u Bay Surf and Sea.
Surf Shops and Rentals in Kailua-Kona
If you’re a beginner or a traveller new to Hawaii, the likelihood is that you haven’t dragged a huge surfboard with you all the way across the Pacific. Rentals are a perfect solution for non-locals and, fortunately, Kailua-Kona has plenty of good surf shops that can help you out. These shops tend to have a really good variety of boards on offer, and the knowledgeable folk who work there are always happy to offer guidance on the perfect board for you.
It’s also a good place to pick up wetsuits and other gear like leashes and fins, or even surf fashion and accessories. Perhaps even more notably is these shops often become little social hubs for the surf community. That means it’s a great place to meet people and get chatting, pick-up local tips and even find out about surf events and competitions coming up in the area.
The seafront of Kailua-Kona is home to a selection of well-placed stores, but we particularly recommend Kahalu’u Bay Surf and Sea, which is a shop as well as a place to get lessons, plus Oshima Surf & Skate and Pacific Vibrations.
Safety and Seasonal Considerations
Safety is paramount whenever dealing with the ocean, and all great surfers know that above all else. Always pay close attention to local surf conditions, respect rip currents and never overestimate your ability. Act with common sense and respect for Mother Nature, as well as for the fellow surfers around you. It’s always a good idea to surf with others, or at least in a spot where other surfers are hanging out.
Kailua-Kona offers year-round surf, but if you’re a beginner then the summer months and early fall offers you gentler, more manageable waves. Water temperatures are pretty comfortable all the time, but the conditions can vary quite drastically depending on the weather, so always be aware of wave size whatever time of year you surf.
This is an AI assisted article produced by Gethin Morgan.
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