7 Awesome Surf Lessons on Waikiki Beach

If you’re visiting Oahu, there’s probably a few things on your Hawaii bucket list—seeing the famed North Shore, spotting an adorable sea turtle, and catching a wave or two.

While surfing is inarguably a challenging sport, anyone can do it with a little practice—that’s what surf lessons are for! So if you want to ride a wave while you’re in Oahu, here’s 7 awesome surf lessons on Waikiki.

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Surfers out on Waikiki Beach in Oahu with Diamond Head in the background
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It’s speculated that surfing was invented in Polynesia in the 12th century and was brought over to Hawaii, where it became an important part of local traditions and culture. Tourism to Hawaii increased in the late 20th century and with its rise, the world’s obsession with surfing grew. 

For example, Duke Kahanamoku, a Native Hawaiian Olympic swimmer that was born in Honolulu, is credited for introducing surfing to the worldwide masses. He did this, in part, by pulling off some impressive feats at Waikiki Beach—including surfing on one wave for over 1.1 miles (which is still believed to be the longest known ride!)

Statue of Duke Kahanamoku along Waikiki Beach in Oahu

So adding learning how to surf on Waikiki itself to your Oahu itinerary is kind of a must, if you ask me!

Best Surf Lessons on Waikiki

1. Semi-Private Surfing Lessons

Length: 2 hours 

This semi-private lesson, with an incredible two students to every one instructor ratio, has tons of perks for its students. 

You can request complimentary pick-up from Waikiki hotels or simply meet at Ohana Surf Project’s training facility, where you’ll be briefed on the basics and safety essentials of surfing, like popping up on the board and balancing.

Then, you’ll head off to the beach, where you can practice on special lesson boards until you feel comfortable. And when the time has come, you and your instructor will head out to the water!

Woman surfing on Waikiki Beach with Diamond Head in the background

There’s a few things that make this lesson stand out from other options. 

First of all, the instructors are all incredibly knowledgeable and do an excellent job of making sure you feel safe and comfortable, while still having a good time. 

Plus, all of the lesson’s written materials are available in Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Chinese and, if you provide the company notice, they’ll do their best to try to find you an instructor that speaks your requested language.

Finally, they offer photos and videos of you during your lessons (at a pretty reasonable cost!) so you can take home tangible proof that you conquered the waves!

2. Surfing Group Lessons in Waikiki

Length: 2 hours

If you’re looking for one of the more affordable options for surf lessons on Waikiki, this offering is provided by the exact same surf school as the one above, but just in a small group setting, of no more than eight students.

Although this comes at a lower price point, it still comes with a lot of the perks as the option above—pickup from some of the most popular hotels in Waikiki, premium equipment that’s specifically geared towards beginners, and knowledgeable and patient instructors.

Honolulu skyline along Waikiki Beach in Oahu

With the help of the supportive instructors, most of the students with this school are able to stand up and ride quite a few waves before the lesson is over. Plus, just like the private lesson option, there’s a professional photographer and videographer on staff to snap photos of you so you have some hard evidence of you hanging ten in Waikiki.

3. Waikiki Private Surf Lesson

Length: 1 hour and 30 minutes

This company gets right down to brass tacks, with the first 15 to 30 minutes of your lesson on the beach, learning the basics of surfing and after that, heading straight out to the water. One of the awesome things about this lesson is that it’s totally private for your group—meaning you can go exactly at the pace you want.

The instructors are patient, supportive, and make you feel like a TOTAL rockstar once you stand up on the board. 

Children body surfing on Waikiki Beach in Oahu

They also are particularly adept at finding the perfect surf break—gentle enough for beginners, but also offering beautiful views of Waikiki, inarguably one of the best beaches on Oahu and the Honolulu skyline (with Diamond Head, it’s one of my favorite skylines in the world!). If you’re really lucky, you might even get to spot a turtle gliding past you in the water!

4. Kayak, Snorkel with Turtles, and Surf Tour in Honolulu

Length: 3 hours

Want something beyond just a surf lesson? 

This unique tour includes three totally different adventures, including stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking from Waikiki Beach; snorkeling at one of the best reefs in Oahu, Turtle Canyon (where, yes, you’ll likely swim with sea turtles!); and ending with a surf lesson—basically, a best of Waikiki Beach! This small group tour (of no more than 5 travelers!) is provided by two locals, who grew up on Oahu, so, in addition to all of the adventure, you’ll definitely get some authentic culture and perspective during the tour.

Hawaiian sea turtle swimming underwater in Hawaii

Usually, the last hour of the tour will be reserved for the surf lesson. During this time, the instructor does an outstanding job of making you feel safe and confident on land, before heading out on the water together. He’s also incredibly supportive, cheering you on the whole time as you try to catch your first wave.

5. Ala Moana Surf Lessons

Length: 1 or 2 hour options

This option has a ton of different offerings, ranging from private adult or child lessons to group lessons with four or more students if you’re on a budget (although, even in the group classes, there will only be four students per instructor, at the max!). Plus, they’ll pick you up from your accommodations in Waikiki so you don’t have to worry about getting to your lesson.

Woman surfing on Waikiki Beach in Oahu

The team of instructors are incredibly patient and really help you figure out pain points both on land and in the water, from getting your balance on the board to where exactly the waves break.

Plus, the lessons are provided on the beach right next to Waikiki, Ala Moana, which means the water will be less crowded than on Waikiki, making it less likely that another surfer will run into you as you’re learning—or vice versa!

6. Group Surf Lesson in Waikiki

Length: 2 hours

This option is intended for small private groups, like families or friends, to learn in a comfortable environment where the instructor can provide you with undivided attention. This company does an excellent job of tailoring the lesson to fit everyone’s individual needs and to match the varying abilities of the group.

Surfers waiting for a wave on Waikiki Beach in Oahu

The instructor is a local, who was born and bred on Oahu, so you’ll feel like you’re not only taking a surf lesson, but getting a small glimpse into life on the island. Beyond that, he makes you feel incredibly safe and comfortable in the water, all while having fun and catching a wave or two!

7. Private Surf Lesson on Waikiki Beach

Length: 1 hour and 30 minutes

This private surf lesson, offered by a 100% Hawaiian owned business, is offered on Waikiki Beach, but away from all of the crowds—a much less nerve-wracking place to learn how to surf!

The instructors for this company have a relaxed and patient vibe that’s helpful if you’re nervous about getting out onto the water. Their knowledge is also SO impressive—they seem to know the very best spots on the beach for the best waves, no matter what skill level you’re at. 

Photo by Maridav of Deposit Photos

Plus, they offer photos and GoPro footage (for a reasonable price!) of you riding those waves that you can opt to buy at the end of your lesson.

Frequently Asked Questions About Surfing on Waikiki

Is Waikiki good for beginner surfers?

Yes, Waikiki Beach is awesome for beginners just learning to surf. 

While the legendary North Shore of Oahu is famed for its big waves (some up to 30 feet in height!), Waikiki and its two miles of shoreline have a wide array of surf breaks that are more suitable for beginner and intermediate surfers, from gentle to larger waves. Local surfers here are also used to tourists in the water and are a little bit more attuned to steering clear of beginners who may not have great control of their board.

Smiling man sitting on a surfboard in the water in Oahu

Plus, given that Waikiki is one of the most popular places to stay in Oahu, the beach is an incredibly convenient location to take a lesson or two.

When is the best time to surf at Waikiki?

Waikiki has good waves for all skill levels year round, but you’ll find the most consistent and large waves (i.e., over 3 feet) in the summertime, usually from June through September.

In terms of time of day, it’s generally considered better to surf early in the morning or late in the afternoon. This is because there tends to be light offshore winds at these times of day, which usually go hand-in-hand with ideally-shaped waves for riding. Plus, there’s usually less people around, which can significantly reduce the anxiety of a beginner surfer.

Surfers swimming out into the waves in Oahu

There you have it—some of the best surf lessons on Waikiki. Do you have any questions about any of these classes? Let me know in the comments below!

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