4 Oahu Surf Spots Perfect for Beginners

From Diamond Head to Chun’s Reef, there’s a spot on all sides of the island for beginners to get their feet wet.

When thinking of Oahu’s surf, a few images come to mind. The throaty barrels at Banzai Pipeline. The dangerous, shallow reefs of Rocky Point. The large, gargantuan waves of Waimea Bay. But really, from the North Shore to Honolulu’s south coasts, there are surf spots geared toward all skill levels, from beginner to advanced. Check out these four surf breaks that make getting your feet wet fun and easy, as long as the forecasted wave heights are in the 1- to 3-foot range.

Diamond Head’s deepwater breaks are perfect for the kids.
Photo by David Croxford

Diamond Head

Not only is surfing at Diamond Head a relaxing experience for those unaccustomed to the sport, with its long mellow waves and deep waters, but the scenery is unrivaled for its raw, natural beauty. After surfers descend down to Diamond Head Beach Park and make the long paddle out to the break known as Cliffs, which is located straight out from the beach, they’ll be met with an epic view of the Diamond Head cliffside. Beginners shouldn’t venture toward the Diamond Head lighthouse, though, at the surf spot named Lighthouses, which has faster waves and shallower waters.

Chun’s Reef is a popular spot used by North Shore surf instructors.
Photo by David Croxford

Chun’s Reef

If you’re leaving Haleiwa town and heading east on Kamehameha Highway, Chun’s Reef, often referred to simply as Chun’s, will be the second beach you see, right after Laniakea Beach. A popular spot for surf lessons, the beach has two main sections, a break closer to shore where beginners will find long, gentle waves, and a break further out where more advanced surfers sit. Like any spot on the North Shore, be aware of the surf forecast, as a seemingly small day can get out of hand if a large swell is rolling in later in the day.

West side’s White Plans beach is great for a surfing excursion or family barbecue.
Photo by Emily Bragg

White Plains

On the west side of Oahu, White Plains greets visitors with manageable A-frame waves that surfers can catch going left, right or straight toward the beach. Another perk of learning to ride the waves at White Plains is that the inside break, the one closest to shore, features a sandy bottom. This means falls aren’t likely to end with cuts and bruises by the reef, however this isn’t an open invitation to pencil dive after every wave. Starfishing, or falling flat with your limbs extended, is always the safest way to avoid injury when dropping from your surfboard.

Expect leisurely waves and panoramic views from any of the many surf breaks at Waikiki Beach.
Photo by David Croxford

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki in the summer is every surfer’s paradise. With waters a shade of light-blue only really found on this long stretch of sand, there are numerous surf breaks that make up Waikiki Beach, ranging from Pops to Queens to Canoes. Wherever you decide to paddle out, ideally with one of the many beginner friendly rentable foam longboards filling surf stands and shops in Waikiki, expect leisurely waves and panoramic views of Oahu’s city landscape. If you’re feeling intimidated by the crowd, sign up for a surf lesson at one of the many surf schools in Waikiki, such as Ty Gurney Surf School or Moku Surf Shop.

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