Three reasons why Hawaii is the most iconic surf destination

Reasons why Hawaii is the most iconic surf destination should be of little surprise since Hawaii receives 10 million tourists every year.

Some come to revel in the beautiful white sand beaches, spot whales or dolphins, eat delicious food, admire lush mountains and scenery, or even shop at the largest outdoor mall in the world (Ala Moana Shopping Center).

Whatever the reason, a number of tourists will at some point or other book a surf lesson and understand the reasons why Hawaii is the most iconic surf destination.

In addition, some visitors travel to the islands for the sole purpose of surfing.

Many people belong to a category of part-time residents in the community — people who spend a large portion of the year in Hawaii in order to score the best waves in the world, and part of the year in their home zone.

For those of you who are preparing to experience surfing in Hawaii for the first time, or plan to incorporate Hawaii in your surf destination round up, you might ask, what’s all the hype about?

Read on:

Ancient Polynesia, specifically Hawaii, is known as the birthplace of surfing — specifically, Waikīkī Beach.

Cave drawings in 12th century Polynesia depict the first evidence of surfing in history.

However, it was not the leisure activity that we may now consider it to be. Surfing was a sport of endurance and physical aptitude and mainly practiced by warriors training for battle.

Surfing also had a religious significance in Polynesian culture and represented a way to pray to the gods. This is another reason why Hawaii is the most iconic surf destination!

Later evidence can be found in James Cook’s diaries. In 1778, Captain James Cook’s journal entry in Tahiti describes his shock and astonishment watching people ride through the ocean on large planks of wood, the early forms of surfboards.

After a period during which surfing was banned by Europeans, a Hawaiian by the name of Duke Kahanamoku played an essential role in reviving the sport and spreading it globally. Another reason why Hawaii is the most iconic surf destination. It was partially due to his influence that a surge of visitors would come to the islands to witness and participate in the “new” sport.

In addition to being the birthplace of surfing as we know it, Hawaii is also home to some of the most iconic surf breaks in the world giving another reason why Hawaii is the most iconic surf destination. 

1) Why Hawaii is the most iconic surf destination: Waikīkī beach

In our previous post, Waikiki is featured as a top beginner surf spot: a beautiful two-mile stretch of sandy beach, with many breaks along the coast.

It is here that you can also visit the famous Duke statue.

2) Why Hawaii is the most iconic surf destination:

North shore of O‘ahu: Pipeline

Every winter, thousands of people flock to watch the Pipe Masters contest (typically taking place the first week of December), where the top surfers in the world compete for the contest title.

Pipe is an extremely dangerous wave that breaks on dry reef with an extremely strong current, and thus surfed by very few recreational surfers.

Observers have an excellent vantage point from the beach, unlike some other popular surf contests, thus, people can witness perfect barrels and some of the highest talent surfing has to offer with their own eyes.

3) North shore of O‘ahu: Waimea Bay

Waimea Bay during the summer is a placid, crystal cove of a beach. Another reason why Hawaii is the most iconic surf destination!

People can jump off Waimea rock during prime months when the water is calm and clear, or snorkel through colorful reefs.

During the winter, Waimea bay turns into a big wave surf extravaganza.

Waimea bay is considered the birthplace of big wave surfing.

Wave heights can reach 45 feet, with 60 foot sets coming in. Even among professional surfers, it is not for the faint of heart.

Another reason one might consider why Hawaii is the most iconic surf destination is that Hawaii, and O‘ahu specifically, offers waves year round.

The south shore of O‘ahu receives rippable waves during the summer months, while the north shore tends to stay flat.

In the winter, north shore swells provide epic waves for all levels, beginner to advanced.

While the south shore doesnʻt receive big swells like during the summer, there are still places to score good waves. The south shore is probably the best place to indulge in year-round surf.

South and north swells can also produce east and west wraps.

It is definitely recommended to take advantage of everything the island has to offer, not only the north and south shore.

There are many novelty spots on the east and west side that can provide anywhere from fun, rippable surf to double overhead waves at different points throughout the year.

In summary, there are countless reasons why Hawaii is touted as the best place to surf in the world.

Historically, Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing, so why wouldnʻt you want to see where it all began? Where else in the world can you book a hotel ten feet from where Duke Kahanamoku himself once surfed?

Some of the most famous surf spots like Pipeline and Waimea Bay are located on the island of O‘ahu, where you can witness surf talent like no other in a few of the most legendary surf spots in the world.

Lastly, Hawaii provides epic waves all year round. On O‘ahu, it is possible to surf every day of the year, instead of waiting for a three or four month period of surf.

All you need is your car and your surfboard to get you around the island, surfing as often as you like.

There is no real dry season for surfing, and if there is, it is relatively short.

Some part of the island will almost always have something to surf. Besides O‘ahu, there are beautiful waves throughout the island chain. Great surfers hail from Kauai, Maui, and the Hawaii Island (Big Island) to name a few. So, make sure to add surfing to your next outer island adventure!

And, it would be amiss to not mention the fact that you can surf in board shorts or in a bikini practically year round.

Packing for your surf trip to O‘ahu? You can forget the 3 mm wetsuit at home. Just remember to apply lots of sunscreen!

If you want to read more about surfing, here is an article on the art of surfing

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