The Garden Isle offers miles and miles of white sandy beaches as well as numerous surfing spots for beginners and advanced alike, with many referring to Kauai as a surfer’s paradise. The North Shore attracts more experienced surfers who flock to places like Hanalei Bay in the winter, although the Hanalei Pier offers more gentle wave action. During the summer Hanalei’s shallow, sandy bottom and gentle swells provide frequently idyllic conditions for the beginning surfer.
From May through October, you’ll find consistent swells along the South Shore that allow surfers of just about every skill level to get out and ride the waves. Poipu Beach is a popular spot that is good for beginners with steady but small waves, keep in mind that where you paddle out can make or break your surfing session. A beach that is ideal one day may not be the next, depending on the current ocean conditions as well as the tides.
Stand up paddle boarding is an old Hawaiian form of surfing that recently reemerged as a fast growing watersport. It is easier to learn than surfing, with most getting comfortable and having fun with just a lesson or two.
Kauai is a great place for those who want to learn to surf, but the best way to learn is by taking a lesson with an experienced teacher or through a surfing school. Learning the basics, including how to stand, how to approach a wave and look for the right one as well as staying safe is essential. A lesson will help get you up on a board and riding the waves much faster, and safer, than if you were to go out on your own. Watching surfers, even on video, can help improve your skills; consider watching surf videos before arriving on Kauai to get familiar with the technique.
Standing up and riding a few waves can be accomplished a bit easier by working on increasing your core strength and improving your balance before you’re ready to get out on the water. Just keep in mind that it can take years to really master the sport – don’t expect to learn in a day or a week. If you’d prefer something that’s quicker, stand up paddle boarding may be more up your alley.
You’ll find many surf instructors and schools throughout the island, but Charlie Smith’s Blue Seas Surf School offers what many feel is the very best when it comes to instruction and value on Kauai’s South Shore.
The school operates from Poipu Beach at the Marriott WaihohaiHOTEL Beach Club, with surf boots, shirts, soft-top surfboards and leashes all included. Classes start on the beach in order for students to learn the basics of positioning on the board. Students are then taken out to a gentle surf area to understand balance and gain confidence for catching a wave. Personalized tips are provided by the instructor to help students get up on the board as quickly as possible, and in the proper position. Blue Seas also offers stand up paddle boarding classes in order to provide beginners with the ins and outs of holding the paddle and catching the waves on an SUP paddleboard.
Charlie is an expert surfer who knows the island and the surrounding waters like the back of his hand. Former students rave about his ability to instill confidence and help get them up on their first wave.
If you’re on the North Shore, Kauai North Shore Surfing School in Hanalei offers stand up paddleboard lessons, expert instructors who can help you improve your surfing skills if you’re experienced, and lessons for beginning surfers.