Surfing in Waikiki: Everything you need to know

Perhaps you have heard of the famous Waikiki beach on the island of O‘ahu!

If you are visiting, just moved, or looking to make Hawaii your next travel destination, Waikiki is definitely a must!

Waikiki is a bucket-list destination location for visitors across the globe.

Fun fact: The majority of visitors who stay in Waikiki are from Japan, with many tourists also coming from the continental US, Canada, China, and Korea.

Millions of tourists flock to O‘ahu each year for a chance to explore the beautiful white sand beaches, comfortable warm waters, seemingly endless blocks of shopping, and some of the best food and drink in the world. And… we can’t forget SURF!

Waikiki is a historic surf destination and highly deserving of its touted reputation. Waikiki is by far the densest tourist populated area in all of O‘ahu, and possibly all of the Hawaii island chain.

The local community in Waikiki, however, is still very much alive and vibrant. Beach boys give surf lessons on the beach or take out catamarans and canoes, and in the summer, you can observe some of the most elite longboarding in the world.

It is a spot where both beginners and professional surfers collide, part of the reason it resonates as such a special place for all of us, locals and visitors.

The long, rolling, crystal clear breaks in Waikiki are home zones for some of the best longboarders in the world. Some of my favorite aspects of surfing in Waikiki include simply watching and observing the plethora of talent out there! Cross-stepping, nose-riding, the whole yards.

Waikiki has also achieved recognition due to the famous Duke Kahanamoku, a Hawaiian surfer and Olympic gold medalist in swimming (you can see the famous Duke statue poised in front of Queen’s surf, usually adorned in flower lei).

In our previous blog post, we talked about some of the most beginner-friendly surf spots on O‘ahu, Waikiki definitely being one!

There are opportunities for beginners to profit from year-round surf on Waikiki shores.

The peak season is the summer season, where the south shore turns on during the April through September months. Wave heights normally hit 4-6 foot faces at their peak, which much more manageable surf easily accessible further towards the shore.

For beginners, we recommend surfing in wave heights reaching 1-3 foot range. That could be in summer or winter, depending on the weather and ocean conditions.

Unlike the north shore of O‘ahu, Waikiki is famous for softer, rolling, unbroken waves, yet still powerful. The rip current is not as strong as compared to the north shore, making it a much more user-friendly spot.

Still, the best thing to do is check the surf report and exercise caution. When in doubt, don’t go out! Instead, find a HOKALI surf coach and/or book a surf lesson with a professional.

You are guaranteed to have the most fun this way as well. You are also guaranteed to meet tons of friends in the water, wintertime, summertime, and every season in between.

Waikiki’s surf breaks, including inside Queens, Canoes, Pops, and Publics are great places to learn how to surf, and also locations where surf lessons most commonly occur.

Waikiki is one of the best places on the island for beginners to learn how to surf. There are also easy rental shops for those who do not have access to a surfboard, and rates are relatively cheap (think $10-$15 per hour) if you venture a block or two islands away from the beach rentals.

If you are staying in a hotel, the beach is quite literally at your fingertips and there is no need for a car to experience the wonderful surf that Waikiki provides. For those living or staying elsewhere on the island, paid meter parking is available as well as no-meter parking with some further walking distance.

Be sure to exercise proper surf etiquette and beware of crowds. Always go out with a leash so you do not harm any human or board, and always be cautious or attentive.

Because Waikiki is so beginner-friendly, and many folks are surfing for the first time, “traffic” in the water can be more congested and more prone to collisions.

Make sure to look left and right when taking off on any wave, just as you would driving a car, to be sure that you are safe from other people and surfboards. This is how you can best enjoy Waikiki and the epic surf it provides!

And the best part is, you don’t even need a wetsuit! Water temperatures stay temperate year-round, even during first light and sunset times. Surfing is ideal here!

What is there to do in Waikiki besides surf?

In addition to surfing, there are many other attractions that bring in tourists from around the world.

Waikiki boasts some of the best shopping on the island.

Walk down Kalakaua Avenue, and you will see a variety of stores, ranging from high end designer, to local mom-and-pop boutiques that sell island treasures and fantastic souvenirs.

At night Waikiki can also be very lively! There are fun restaurants and thriving nightlife in the area.

Where to eat in Waikiki?

Within Waikiki, there is something to satisfy every craving. Start by getting some award-winning Udon and Japanese Food at cafeteria-style Marugame Udon, for a lighter fare.

Feast on high quality sushi grade sashimi from Doraku Sushi or Furusato Sushi. If you fancy a sweet treat or an acai bowl, check out Sunrise Shack, Hawai Crown, or Banan, for healthy banana soft serve with the load of toppings.

Many hotels, like the Halekulani, also offer breakfast, high tea, and contemporary American style dining, As mentioned, there is an offering for every palette!

So what are you waiting for! For the fellow surfer, beach goer, and adventure seeker, you must check out Waikiki! And make sure to book through HOKALI for the surf experience you’ll always remember.

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