Best Surfing Lessons on the Big Island of Hawaii: Find Your Perfect Wave

Ready to catch some waves on the Big Island of Hawaii? Surfing is a way of life here, and there’s no better place to learn. With its warm waters and consistent swells, you’re in for the ride of your life.

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Whether you’re a total newbie or just looking to polish your skills, the Big Island’s surf schools have got you covered. Imagine yourself gliding along the Pacific with the sun on your back and the salt in your hair—pure bliss!

Surfing Lessons on the Big Island of Hawaii

When you’re on the Big Island, the draw of the ocean is irresistible, especially if you’ve had the dream of riding the waves. Surf schools here cater to a wide range of abilities, from first-timers to those looking to hone their skills. With experienced instructors who have been riding the island’s waves for years, you’ll quickly understand why surfing isn’t just a sport but a way of life.

Picking the right surf school is pivotal. Look for:

  • A certified team of instructors
  • A commitment to safety
  • Small class sizes for personalized attention
  • Good quality equipment included with the lessons

The Big Island’s surf schools boast a high success rate with beginners, and for good reason. The instructors are not only passionate about surfing but also about teaching. They’ll take you to spots with the most appropriate conditions, ensuring you’re learning in an environment that’s challenging yet safe.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what you could expect:

  • Warm-up: Start with a brief session on the sand. Learn about ocean safety, surfing etiquette, and practice your pop-up technique.
  • In-water lesson: Your instructor will guide you as you catch your first waves. They’ll provide real-time feedback, helping you improve with each attempt.
  • Free surf: After the lesson, practice what you’ve learned. Your instructor will keep an eye on you, ready to give tips and encouragement.

If you’re looking to take your surfing to the next level, the Big Island’s transparent and warm waters provide a great environment for advanced coaching sessions. Instructors use video analysis and personalized feedback to help fine-tune your technique, be it your stance, timing, or wave reading skills.

Remember, the best time to surf on the Big Island is between November and March when the swells are most consistent. However, summer brings smaller, more manageable waves perfect for beginners. Regardless of when you visit, there’s always a break with your name on it, just waiting for you to take the plunge and ride your first Hawaiian wave.

1. Top-Rated Surf Schools

When scouring the Big Island for the best surf lessons, you’ll want to find establishments that not only teach you the basics but immerse you in the surfing culture unique to Hawaii. After all, surfing isn’t just a sport here – it’s a way of life.

Kona Surf Company, a favorite among locals and visitors alike, is known for its experienced instructors who live and breathe surfing. They provide personalized attention in and out of the water, ensuring you’re catching waves with confidence in no time. With safety as their paramount concern, their training curriculum is adapted to your skill level, whether you’re standing on a board for the first time or looking to hone advanced techniques.

Next on the list is Big Island Surf School, which prides itself on small class sizes and high-quality equipment. Their certified instructors will start you off with the basics on dry land before leading you into the clear, warm waters. They offer a variety of lesson plans, so whether you’re looking for a one-time adventure or a series of sessions to master the sport, they’ve got you covered.

Lastly, don’t overlook Aloha Surf Clinics with Nancy Emerson, an institution on the island, where the focus isn’t just on mechanics but also on the spiritual side of surfing. Here, you’re not only taught how to read the ocean and ride the waves but also about the ancient Hawaiian traditions that surround the art of he’e nalu (surfing).

Each of these schools provides something unique:

  • Kona Surf Company brings tailored instruction to each student.
  • Big Island Surf School focuses on small groups and top-notch gear.
  • Aloha Surf Clinics connects you to surfing’s deeper roots.

Remember to book lessons in advance since these top-tier schools tend to fill up fast, particularly during peak seasons. Your time on the Big Island is an opportunity to connect with the ocean in a profound way. Through these schools, you’ll discover the sheer joy that comes with riding the waves—a quintessential Hawaiian experience.

2. Experienced Instructors

When you’re learning to surf, the instructor guiding you through the waves is as crucial as the board beneath your feet. On the Big Island, surf schools are renowned for their seasoned instructors, many of whom boast years of experience both on competition circuits and in teaching the art of surfing.

You’ll find instructors who have a deep connection to the ocean, understanding that surfing is more than just a sport—it’s a way of life. They’re committed to passing on this respect for the sea to every student, ensuring you not only ride the waves but also appreciate the ocean’s power and beauty.

  • Certified trainers: All instructors at premier surf schools are certified, meaning they have met strict safety and professional standards. You’re in good hands, literally, as they coach you through every move.
  • Real-life experience: The instructors have a rich knowledge gleaned from years of riding the waves. Their insights help you grasp the subtle nuances that turn a good ride into a great one.

In a typical lesson, your instructor will give you the scoop on ocean safety, wave dynamics, and board management before you hit the water. Once in the surf, they’ll be by your side, providing real-time tips to help you catch your first wave or refine your technique. And with small class sizes, you’re guaranteed personalized attention.

Another remarkable aspect is the range of expertise available. Whether you’re just starting or you’re an intermediate surfer looking to level up, there’s a mentor for you. For those who’ve already got the basics down, advanced coaching aims to fine-tune your skills, teaching you how to navigate bigger waves and achieve that seamless flow that surfers strive for.

Booking a session at one of Big Island’s acclaimed surf schools means tapping into a wealth of knowledge. You’re not just learning to surf; you’re immersing yourself in a thriving culture, guided by instructors who see surfing as a path to greater self-discovery.

3. Beginner-Friendly Lessons

When you’re just dipping your toes into the world of surfing, the Big Island offers a comforting yet exhilarating environment for beginners. You’ll find a haven at beginner-friendly surf spots like Kahalu’u Beach Park and Pine Trees, where the waves invite you without overwhelming you. It’s crucial for you to start your journey on the right foot, and these spots coupled with the right school will have you up and riding waves in no time.

At these locales, surf schools tailor their instruction to your pace. They understand the initial hesitations and the thrill of catching your very first wave. Their approach is gentle and patient, because they know that surfing isn’t just a sport—it’s a dance with the ocean, and everyone has to start with the basics.

During your first lesson, you’ll be taught essential skills:

  • Understanding the ocean currents
  • Surf etiquette so everyone gets a chance at a good wave
  • Board handling to keep you and others safe
  • Paddling techniques for efficient movement
  • Standing up on the board without losing your balance

The instructors not only focus on the physical aspect of surfing but also instill a deep appreciation for the marine ecosystem. Picking up litter to protect the ocean demonstrates how to Respect the Sea. It’s a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about the environment while engaging in an exhilarating new sport.

You’ll notice how the waves can change from one part of the island to another, which makes selecting the right beach crucial for your skill level. Listen to the advice of the experienced instructors who know the waters like the back of their hand—they’ll guide you to the best spots where the surf is consistent but manageable.

Finally, don’t forget to capture these moments. While your focus will be on the waves, having someone snap a few photos of your first attempt can make for lifelong memories. And once you’re able to stand and ride that first wave, the sense of accomplishment will hook you on surfing, possibly for life. Now imagine that feeling with the backdrop of Hawaii’s stunning vistas—it’s nothing short of magical.

4. Advanced Training for Experienced Surfers

If you’ve got the basics down and you’re eager to take your surfing to the next level, the Big Island has got you covered. As someone who’s witnessed the evolution of many surfers from tentative beginners to confident wave riders, I can assure you that the advanced training offered here is top-notch.

Seasoned surfers can find a variety of options tailored to their skills. Here, advanced lessons aren’t just about riding bigger waves; they’re about fine-tuning techniques, understanding the science of wave selection, and gaining a deeper comprehension of the ocean’s behavior.

Instructors for advanced surfers typically have competitive surfing experience or years under their belts exploring various surf spots around the world. This means they’ll provide you with insights you can’t get anywhere else. You’ll learn to read weather patterns, make quick decisions on the water, and employ advanced maneuvers.

Here’s what advanced lessons offer:

  • Personalized coaching aimed at perfecting form
  • Video analysis to critique and improve your technique
  • Guidance on physical conditioning to boost performance
  • Strategies to navigate crowds and secure the best spot in the lineup

The Big Island’s spots like Honoli’i and Pohoiki are renowned for their bigger and more challenging waves, making them ideal classrooms for your advanced lessons. Keep in mind, these spots can be crowded, but with the right instructor, you’ll learn how to assert your place in the lineup respectfully.

Remember the importance of respecting the locals, not only to maintain the harmony of the surf community but also to soak in the aloha spirit that makes surfing in Hawaii so unique.

Booking with schools that offer advanced training is a breeze, but it’s advisable to do so ahead of time. High demand and the desire for personalized training mean slots fill up quickly. Equip yourself with patience and persistence, and you’re sure to snag a spot with some of the best in the business.

While embracing advanced training, maintain your connection with the sea. It’s not just about conquering challenging waves; it’s about becoming one with the ocean and understanding your impact on the marine environment. Keep honing your skills, and you’ll find every session not only exhilarating but also enriching.

5. Best Beaches for Surfing

When you’re looking for that perfect wave, the Big Island’s diverse shoreline won’t disappoint. With a range of breaks suitable for all skill levels, your ideal surfing experience awaits.

Kahalu’u Beach Park is the go-to spot for novices. The cove’s protective reef creates gentle, rolling waves ideal for getting your feet wet, both literally and figuratively. Parking is ample and the on-site facilities cater to your convenience, ensuring a stress-free day at the beach.

Hapuna Beach, boasting a half-mile stretch of pristine white sand, is a favorite among locals and visitors. Here, surfers find more challenging waves during the summer months, and the beach is simply sublime for relaxing after your session.

Advanced surfers usually flock to Banyans. Just south of Kailua-Kona, this spot’s known for its fast, right-hand break that demands precision and control. Keep in mind that it’s also a local favorite so practice good surf etiquette. On days when the swell aligns, Banyans truly shines as one of the island’s premier surf locations.

For those preferring a remote, off-the-beaten-path experience, Pohoiki Beach offers a wild ride. Situated in the Puna district, recent volcanic activity has transformed the area, creating new black sand beaches and altering wave patterns. It’s a reminder of nature’s ever-changing canvas and the new surfing challenges that come with it.

Lastly, Honoli’i Beach Park near Hilo is a verdant, tropical haven. It’s a river mouth break, meaning you’ll find consistent swells. Honoli’i caters more towards the intermediate and advanced as the waves here are often more powerful and demanding. With lush surroundings and fewer crowds, it’s a serene spot to paddle out and experience surfing amidst Hawaii’s natural beauty.


Ready to catch some waves on the Big Island? You’ve got all the info you need to dive into the world of surfing, whether you’re just starting out or looking to up your game. Remember, the right school can make all the difference, so choose one that resonates with your vibe and learning style. Embrace the warm, clear waters and let the island’s spirit infuse every lesson. With spots like Kahalu’u and Honoli’i waiting, your surfing adventure is just a booking away. So grab your board, respect the ocean, and prepare to ride the surf in one of the most breathtaking places on Earth. Happy surfing!

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes the Big Island of Hawaii an ideal place to learn surfing?

The Big Island’s warm, transparent waters and various surf school options with certified instructors make it an excellent place for surf lessons, catering to both beginners and advanced surfers.

What should I look for in a surf school?

Choose a surf school on the Big Island with certified instructors, a commitment to safety, manageable class sizes, and quality equipment.

What can I expect during surf lessons on the Big Island?

Expect a warm-up on the sand, in-water lessons with immediate feedback, and time for free surf practice. Advanced coaching sessions are also available for experienced surfers.

Which surf schools are highly rated on the Big Island?

Kona Surf Company, Big Island Surf School, and Aloha Surf Clinics with Nancy Emerson are top-rated for their tailored instruction, small groups, and a focus on surfing’s spiritual aspects.

How far in advance should I book my surfing lessons?

Due to high demand, it’s recommended to book lessons at top-tier surf schools well in advance.

What expertise do instructors at Big Island surf schools offer?

Instructors offer a wealth of experience, personalized attention, and expertise ranging from beginner to intermediate surfing skills, along with a respect for the ocean.

What do beginner lessons on the Big Island focus on?

Beginner lessons focus on essential skills like understanding ocean currents, surf etiquette, board handling, paddling techniques, standing up on the board, and respecting the marine ecosystem.

What does advanced surf training on the Big Island include?

Advanced training involves personalized coaching, video analysis, physical conditioning, and crowd navigation strategies. It’s best to book these sessions in advance.

Which Big Island beaches are best for surfing?

Kahalu’u Beach Park, Hapuna Beach, Banyans, Pohoiki Beach, and Honoli’i Beach Park offer varied experiences for surfers of all levels, from beginner-friendly waves to challenging spots for advanced surfers.

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