With the global expansion in surfing’s popularity, the most accessible breaks around the island have plenty of contenders. Practice patience and courtesy when lining up to catch a wave, and ask for advice from local surf shops before heading out on your own. Hanalei Bay’s winter surf is the most popular on the island, but it’s for experts only. Poipu Beach is an excellent spot to learn to surf; the waves are generally smaller, and—best of all—nobody laughs when you wipe out. To find out where the surf’s up, go to Kauai Explorer Ocean Report (www.kauaiexplorer.com/ocean_report) or call the Weather Service (808/245-3564).
Poipu is also the site of numerous surfing schools; the oldest and best is Margo Oberg’s School of Surfing (www.surfonkauai.com; 808/332-6100), at the Sheraton Kauai. A world surfing champion at age 15, Oberg founded the Poipu school in 1977 and now runs it with the help of eldest son Shane and friendly, young pro instructors. Two-hour lessons cost $68, including 90 minutes of group instruction (up to six students) and 30 minutes of additional practice, with soft-topped boards for beginners and booties provided. If you want to keep practicing, it’s easy to rent from Nukumoi Surf Shop (www.nukumoisurf.com; 808/742-8019), right across from Brennecke’s Beach at 2100 Hoone Rd., Koloa. Nukumoi charges $6 an hour, $25 a day, or $75 a week for soft boards; the hard (epoxy) boards, for experienced surfers, cost $8 an hour, $30 a day, or $90 a week.If you’re staying on the North Shore, consider a lesson from Hawaiian Surfing Adventures (www.hawaiiansurfingadventures.com; 808/482-0749), which offers smaller group lessons (maximum of four students) that include 90 minutes of instruction, up to an hour of practice, and soft boards for $65. The exact surf spot in Hanalei will vary by conditions; check-in for lessons is at the Hawaiian Beach Boys Surf Shop, 5-5134 Kuhio Hwy. (just south of Aku Rd., on the right when heading north). It also offers daily rentals starting at $20 for soft boards and $25 for the expert epoxy boards, with discounts for longer periods, as does Hanalei Surf Co. (www.hanaleisurf.com/rentals; 808/826-9000), 5–5161 Kuhio Hwy. (in Hanalei Center), Hanalei.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.