Ocean Activities

Top Beginner Tips: Learn to Surf During Your Hawaii Vacation

Surfing is undoubtedly Hawaii’s pastime. Stand-up surfing was once reserved for ali’i (chiefs), but now anyone of almost any age can try their hand at it and have a great time. Here are some of our best tips on surfing your way through vacation as a beginner.

Get a surf lesson!

There are plenty of surfing lessons and schools all over the islands, so this won’t be too difficult. For you DIY’ers, having at least one lesson is a great way to make sure you’re solid on your feet the first time you try it. Surfing lessons are also a great confidence boost for kids.

Rent a board! 

There are board rentals available at almost every size and quality point. That means that if one member of your family is already a surfer, they can rent a shorter board while the beginners use long boards.

Look for glassy water and consistent waves. Notice if no one is there. 

Rough water will make it hard to paddle out, and while you probably don’t want to be surfing Pipeline just yet, it’s no fun to float on the water with no waves coming for hours.

Watch the waves roll in for a few minutes and see how many there are, how fast they are, etc.

If conditions look perfect at about 2pm and no one is out, look around again. The waves may be hard to access or ride. Generally, following the crowd is a good idea as a beginner. Just make sure to give everyone space once you’re out.

Wear sunscreen and rash guards while surfing. 

The waxy surface of a board can be uncomfortable, and you don’t want a full-back sunburn after just getting your sea-legs. Keep yourself lathered in sunscreen and well-hydrated. You’ll also lose electrolytes in the water, so drink Smart Water or a sports drink to return your electrolyte levels to normal.

Follow all ocean safety tips.

Read our 7 ocean safety tips for the best ways to stay safe in the water. Also make sure to look at signs and listen to lifeguards. They’ll keep you safe.


Have fun! Surfing is a worldwide phenomenon and one of the best sports around, and your vacation is a great time to get into it.


Surfing in Hawaii


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