Where to Surf in Kauai



Hawaii is known as one of the best surfing destinations in the world, and Kauai is one of the best islands to enjoy the sport. With plenty of beaches and bays offering all kinds of conditions, there’s a spot for everyone from total beginners to seasoned pros to take to the water and ride the waves.

If you’re visiting Kauai and want to know the best places to surf on the island or the best time to visit to catch the best swells, this post has everything you need to know.

When is Surfing Season in Kauai?

The good news is, you can surf in Kauai anytime. The constant offshore winds and ample ground swells guarantee that the island gets decent surf all year round

Kauai has a tropical climate that is overall mild and balmy, with a remarkably stable weather pattern. Throughout the year, the air temperature in coastal areas never dips below 77°F (25°C) but never rises above 84°F (29°C) and the seawater is almost always pleasantly warm, at an average temperature of 79°F (26°C).

Like in other parts of Hawaii, surf breaks around the island in various locations at various times of the year. Waves are massive in Kauai’s north shores during the winter and spring months, while in November and December, the average swell height is eight feet. 

During the summer months, the best places for surfing shift to the southern parts of the island. The average waves are up to 7 feet tall from May to June and 5 feet from July to October, with a swell consistency of around 90%.

Surfboards

The Best Surf Spots in Kauai

Before we launch into our list of the best places to surf in Kauai, it's worth noting that professional surf instructors can almost always find a safe suitable place for beginner surfing lessons on sandy-bottomed bays all year round. If you're new to the sport then it's always a good idea to take to the water with a qualified instructor, as this will ensure you receive personal tuition and have someone on hand to help if you run into any difficulties. If you're staying with Pure Kauai, our concierge service or your personal host can provide a list of the best professional instructors on the island. 

Hanalei Bay

The lovely, crescent-shaped beach Hanalei Bay got the nickname ‘Crown Jewel of the North Shore’ for its incredible scenery. It's actually one of Hawaii's most-photographed beaches because it's so beautiful, which makes this a great part of the coast to visit even if you don't like surfing and just want to admire the views.

The bay here curves for over 2 miles and is actually made up of three beach parks: Black Pot Beach Park, Hanalei Pavilion Beach Park, and Wai'oli Beach Park. Each of these are brilliant places for surfing, with a range of water conditions making this a great place to visit for all surfing abilities.

Hanalei Bay has a sandy and shallow bottom that is very safe for surfers. In summer, you will find excellent shore breaks that are ideal for novice surfers who want to refine their skills. In winter, the waves are rougher and unsuitable for untrained surfers, so this is a spot better suited to those with some experience.

The bay's large size means that there are three different places to park that allow access to the sand, and we recommend arriving early if you want to secure a spot and get to the beach before it gets really busy. You can also get to Hanalei Bay on foot if you don't mind a short walk from the nearby town.

Shipwreck Beach

Located in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Poipu on the south shore of the island, Shipwreck Beach is one of the most popular places on Kauai for surfing and bodyboarding. This spot gets its name from the fact that a boat was wrecked on the shore nearby many years ago, and while the remains of the ship have been entirely swept away, it's still a place that receives plenty of visitors all year round.

Water conditions at Shipwreck Beach are quite wild, hence why a boat ran into trouble along this part of the coast in the first place. This does make for fantastic surfing conditions however, although beginners should take extra care and avoid going out in the water on particularly wild days as the waves can be huge and very rough.

As well as the brilliant surfing opportunities, Shipwreck Beach is also a great spot for whale watching during the winter months, with the cliffs above the beach providing an excellent vantage point for spotting pods of the creatures out in the water.

You can reach Shipwreck Beach either on foot via the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail, or you can travel by car leave your vehicle in a public parking lot nearby.

Keālia Beach

Keālia Beach has some of the most favorable conditions for surfing in Kauai. Located near the town of Kapa’a on the eastern side of the island, Keālia is open and exposed which means that the waves here get really rough and wild on days when the wind picks up. 

Due to its ample ground and wind swells, the waves here are consistent all year round. However, its constantly shifting sandbar may cause unexpected breaks that could be difficult, even dangerous, to ride. Therefore, we only recommend that experienced surfers head out into the water on days when the weather is wild and that everyone listens to the local lifeguards and follows their recommendations.

Keālia is better suited for trained surfers, but novices can practice their skills at the north end of the beach, where rock barriers shelter the waters from robust winds. The beach is also famous for whale watching, particularly in winter. So, if you’re not ready to brave the big waves yet, you can opt for another kind of sea adventure.

The north end of the beach is protected by breakwater, which creates a much calmer area that is great for swimming in the summer. You can access this beach from Highway 56 and there's a large parking area that means plenty of visitors can spend the day here.

Other Surf Spots in Kauai

The above surf spots are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to places to surf in Kauai. If you're looking for local guidance and recommendations, booking a trip with Pure Kauai means that you can connect with one of our on-island hosts or specialists to get the inside scoop on local surf spots. We'll be able to suggest plenty of places around the island that won't be overcrowded with other tourists, and can also arrange surfing lessons from local instructors if you're looking to brush up on your skills. You can find out more here

Kalihiwai Bay

Summary

Kauai is a surfing haven set against a backdrop of spectacular scenery. It is an excellent year-round destination for avid surfers due to its wide range of incredible surfing spots. From remote beaches to bustling resorts, beginner-friendly breaks to 30-feet ocean swells, and whether you’re a novice or a seasoned surfer, there is always a perfect wave for you in Kauai.

If you’re planning a surfing trip to Kauai and are looking for luxury holiday accommodation, Pure Kauai offers a wide range of outstanding properties. Get in touch with our team to find out more and start planning your dream vacation.