The 5 Best Waikiki Surf Spots for Beginners

This post was last updated on: Friday, November 1, 2019

There’s nothing more exciting than paddling out for the first time to catch some waves during your first surf session. However, location is everything when it comes to finding waves that are suitable for a beginner. You don’t want to get laid out by a wave before you even get on your board. So read on for detailed information on the best Waikiki surf spots!

As a newbie to surfing, you have plenty of options around Waikiki. Make your first surfing experience a great one by choosing the right places. You can then hang loose and enjoy yourself. You won’t become a pro overnight, and you might fall a lot, but that’s all part of learning to surf!

Here are some of our top recommendations for new ocean-goers to catch their first wave in beautiful Waikiki. Find the one that’s right for you, and you’ll be hanging ten in no time!

the best Waikiki surf spots for beginners! photo of Waikiki beach on a sunny day with Diamond Head in the background

Where Can I Surf in Waikiki?

Are you worried about finding a great surf break near Waikiki? You shouldn’t be, because the Island of Oahu offers over 100 surf spots for all skill levels. With surfing being a way of life for Oahu, Hawaiian locals and tourists flock to the island’s Pacific waters to catch waves whenever they can.

Finding the best surf spots in Waikiki is all about knowing what you want. Some breaks can get choppy, but they end up being less crowded as a result. Other spots are consistent, but may be packed with intermediate and advanced surfers, which can be intimidating for a rookie.

You’d have a pretty hard time finding coastline in Waikiki and other parts of Oahu that isn’t a part of the surf action. Depending on the day, your experience, and the weather, you can surf just about anywhere. Just don’t get in over your head or you’ll be drinking saltwater waves instead of riding them!

Is Waikiki Beach Good for Surfing?

If you’re a beginner who’s looking to give surfing a try, Waikiki is a great place to do it. Not only do you have gorgeous views and plenty of surf schools, but the vibe will leave you feeling fantastic even while you’re working through the basics of surfing.

Waikiki Beach is especially excellent if you’re new to the sport and looking for friendly learning conditions. Like riding a bike or swimming for the first time, proper instruction and a bit of bravery will lead you to success. If your only goal is to stand up on your board, Waikiki waves can be very forgiving.

The rolling waves of Waikiki Beach are the perfect venue for you to practice the basics of surfing. While there are plenty of high-level, legendary surf spots in Oahu, huge swells can be a nightmare for a less-experienced surfer. You can work up to bigger waves over time.

Until then, Waikiki is the place to be!

Canoes

Once you’ve got the basics under your belt, Canoes is one of the first Waikiki surf spots you’ll want to hit up. It provides ideal conditions for beginners and long-boarders. As a result, you can expect it to be extremely crowded any time the swells are even halfway decent.

These crowds aren’t just limited to surfers. Canoes is also home to canoes (shocker) and catamarans. It’s a great place to learn how to share the water and make safe judgment calls as you master the basics of surfing.

If you’re looking to catch some whitewater waves, Canoes is the spot. Due to the crowds, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Take our advice on this one: when in doubt, don’t paddle out. If you’re about to get mowed down, keep your head low down!

Queens

Right off the east end of Kuhio Beach Park is the legendary Queen’s Surf. Queen’s is home to tons of surf contests at the amateur and pro levels, and it’s no surprise considering the fantastic surf conditions that it provides. If there are any waves worth catching around Oahu, you’ll find them here.

Queens is best known as the place for long-boarders to rip down the line and ride excellent waves farther out. These waves are great if you go farther out, but they also make for fantastic learning conditions as they get closer to shore.

Unfortunately, these fantastic conditions draw in tons of eager wave riders of all levels. On a less crowded day, beginners can catch some whitewater action here. However, when it’s packed, you’d be better off finding another spot until you’ve gained the experience to ride bigger waves.

The Wall

The Waikiki Wall acts as a barrier between the waves and the shore. Thanks to this, surfers and boogie boarders can enjoy subdued, smaller waves to practice on. It’s the perfect place to practice popping up and getting the hang of the basics as a total beginner.

Although the locals often take over the beach, it’s common for families and children to enjoy The Wall’s smaller waves. If you’re a complete beginner, then don’t let this deter you from having a great place to practice. Once you master the basics, you’ll want to move over to Canoes or Queens.

All in all, if you want a genuinely low-stakes learning environment that isn’t crowded with more experienced surfers, the Waikiki Wall can give you that.

Publics

If you’re looking to get away from the crowds and off the beaten path, the reef break known as Publics might be for you. This Waikiki surf spot offers smaller swells and typically a bit more space to surf. Conditions can get choppy because of the location, but you probably won’t have to worry about many other surfers.

Overall, Publics is a superb spot to catch some small waves. If you’ve gotten on the board a few times and feel comfortable enough to step up from absolute beginner surfing conditions, then it’s for you. That is, as long as you aren’t afraid of paddling out a bit farther than usual among a razor-sharp coral reef!

Populars/Pops

This spot’s name is a total misnomer, so no need to freak out about massive crowds and not being able to catch a wave. It’s popular among the green sea turtles that like to hang out nearby, so keep your eyes open, and you might spot one. Pops is a great spot for beginners, and it’s usually not too crowded.

This break can be found to the right of Canoes when looking out toward the horizon.

One thing to keep in mind about Populars is that the paddle out is a long one. However, it’s well worth it to ditch the crowds and have some space to surf. The waves are super forgiving for beginners, though they can get choppy at times.

Overall, Pops is an excellent spot to get away from the action so long as you don’t mind working for it a little.

Final Thoughts: The Best Waikiki Surf Spots

Waikiki and the surrounding area is indeed a surfers’ paradise. Whether you’ve never touched a board in your life or you are a sponsored professional surfer, this is the number one place to catch excellent waves.

Because Waikiki’s most famous breaks attract surfers at mixed experience levels, it’s essential to know where you stand on the spectrum and what etiquette to follow. Fortunately, the vibes are great, and seasoned veterans are usually happy to give rookies a hand. Be sure to return the favor by always using your best judgment.

Most importantly, be aware that while your fellow wave riders can be forgiving, nature is not. Taking on huge waves with little experience can be super risky. Stay patient and enjoy the process of mastering the basics of surfing while in the paradise that is Waikiki, and you’ll be getting barreled in no time.