The Hawaiian Islands are a volcanic archipelago made up of eight main islands, several atolls and numerous islets stretching across the North Pacific Ocean from Midway to “The Big Island” of Hawaii. The main islands consist of Hawaii, Maui, Lanai, Oahu, Kahoolawe, Molokai, Kauai, Niihau.
Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing and a place that every surfer must go at least once in there lives. When Capitan James Cook discovered Hawaii, 2,000 years after the first Polynesian visitors, he was amazed by the locals wave riding skills. Go to the North Shore during winter and you’ll witness that same wave riding skill being displayed by the locals and traveling pros alike.
The North Shore of Oahu, Maui and Kauai are situated in a perfect location to pick up powerful swells produced by large storms that form along the Bering Straight. And each winter surfers from around the globe flock to these islands to test there skills in the powerful waves that crash on the reefs that surround these islands.
During the summer months, the southern shores of these islands pick up south swells.
Oahu is the main island we think of for surfing in the Hawaiian Islands. It is home to Honolulu, the largest, most populated city, as well as the capital city. On the south shore of Oahu, you’ll find Waikiki which is the modern birthplace of surfing, where Duke Kahanamoku, George Freeth and the Waikiki Beach Boys brought back the tradition of wave sliding (Hui Nalu) before spreading this amazing pastime around the globe. It is also home to the some of the most famous waves in the world, such as, Pipeline, Waimea and Sunset Beach. It is also the birthplace of professional surfing competition.
Maui has some great waves on the south shore, but is best known for the perfect tubes at Honoloa Bay and tow-in surfing at the big wave surf spot known as Jaws, located on its north shore. The south shore of Maui is not as exposed to the swells as the other islands, but gets quite good. Lahaina is the best bet to catch summer south swells.
Kauai is known for the incredible waves in Hanalei Bay, which is the epicenter for surfing on Kauai’s north shore and the birth place of Andy Irons, the only three-time world surfing champion from Hawaii. Poipu beach on the south shore of Kauai offers several surf spots that pick-up summer south swells.
The Big Island of Hawaii is often confused with Oahu to first time visitors to the Hawaiian Islands. Surf on Hawaii isn’t quite as plentiful as other islands due to the fact that the island is still forming and the north shore is mostly blocked by Maui from the winter swells. That doesn’t mean there is no surf. The island of Hawaii has good surf and is completely exposed to summer south swells.