When I had heard of surfing Hanalei on the North Shore of Kauai, it had always been as a spot for world class surfers riding the biggest and baddest waves. It was never place I thought I could actually learn how to surf. However, there are a variety of breaks in the bay from those of world champions to beginners. And, when you go home and tell people you surfed at Hanalei all of your friends will be really impressed, imagining you cruising the big waves of surf magazines. The surf here is best from early winter-late spring and can be a little too flat in the summer.
If you want to try it out on your own, go near the Hanalei pier. This is where veteran big wave surfer Titus Kinimaka holds his surf classes and can be a great starting place for beginners. The break here is not too big, but not too small either, and perfect for first-time surfers.
If you’ve never surfed before, I would recommend dropping the dough on a class for your first time out. That way you can learn the basics and then practice on your own. Titus Kinimaka’s Hawaiian School of Surfing is not only run by a surfing legend, but guarantees you will surf during your first 90 minute lesson. For $65, they’ll fit you with a beginner’s long board and a long sleeved Quicksilver surfing shirt (to prevent from getting a rash and/or sunburned), give you 90 minutes of instruction and then let you use the equipment for the rest of the day to practice all your new moves.
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The other benefit to surfing at Hanalei? The view is spectacular and hard to beat anywhere else in the islands, so even if you spend most of your time not catching waves, at least you have the inspiring North Shore of Kauai to look at out on the water. And, if you want to brag to your friends at home about your newly acquired surf mastery, all you need to do is google image search Hanalei surfing and tell them that’s where you went out for your first time. They are guaranteed to think you are a badass.