Sweet Spots for Surfing

Oahu has long been known to be the Mecca of master surfers in search of that next big wave. But for the mortals among us—those more hesitant hang-teners—what does this tropical destination have to offer? Here are the six, sweet surf spots for anyone who is wanting to bust out their board, but is not necessarily ready to brave the monster waves with the big boys...yet. Pua’ena Point Surf Break, North Shore
Although Oahu’s North Shore is world famous for its record-breaking waves, there's one surf spot you don’t have to be superhuman to attempt. Pua’ena Point Beach Park, located just past Haleiwa town limits (on the way in at Haleiwa Beach Park—just to the right of the small island if you’re looking out at the ocean from the parking lot), is a much more mild locale to learn the ropes before riding the big Kahunas. An extra upside is that there are always rentals available at nearby Haleiwa’s Surf 'n Sea shop, where they have rental boards available and can offer advice on where and when to go out. Canoes, Waikiki
Most likely the widest known spot for safety-first surfing, Canoes (located in Waikiki, to the right side of the Duke statue if you are looking out into the ocean), boasts milder, rolling waves and a relatively sandy bottom, aside from spots of worn down reef. It tends to get crowded with the throngs of Waikiki tourists out to try their luck at landing some waves, so stay alert and aware of your surroundings. And as it is Waikiki, you can count on having more than enough access to rental boards here. White Plains, Ewa Beach
A more out-of-the-way option for those beginner surfers a bit intimidated by the crowds of Waikiki and the 7-mile super-stretch of the North Shore, White Plains is exactly what you are looking for. The mild waves are consistently calmer, making it the perfect match for non-masters to get out there and try their luck. Diamond Head, South Shore
Another great spot to start out, Diamond Head—although at first appearing intimidating with visible reef—is actually an optimal initial learner’s surf spot once you know where to go. Park at the main walkway of Diamond Head, and take the paved down past the shower, then go left toward the houses. Once you go far enough and pay attention, you will notice the reef lessen and go away almost entirely. Be sure to stay inside and stay right as you surf the nice, roller waves found here. Chun’s Reef, North Shore
One of the only two spots along the North Shore that I would ever advise a beginner to dare brave, Chun’s Reef is a surprisingly soft wave, compared to the monsters just a hop, skip and jump away along the famous seven mile stretch. It can get crowded, so keep your eyes open for other surfers and keep in mind the rules of the waves—stay out of the locals’ and pros’ ways, brah. Flat Island, Kailua
Located directly out front of the boat ramp at Kailua Beach Park, Flat Island offers a nice, non-intimidating little surfing spot, especially if you are over Waikiki and its throngs of surfing tourists. Keep your eyes out for windsurfers and kayakers, as this area is a haven for those Hawaiian adventure seekers as well. Just be aware that at low tide especially, the reef can get a bit dangerous if you get too close in toward the island itself. by Andy Beth Miller