O‘ahu is the center of surfing in the islands, some say the world. And that’s as it should be. This is where it was invented, this is where it was exported from, this is where so many great surf sites are, this is where the surfing culture thrives, and this is where you’ll find one of the easiest beginner surf sites the planet has to offer—right where you’re staying in Waikiki. That’s no exaggeration. Having lived on all the major Hawaiian islands, we can tell you that no other beach has the ideal combination of ingredients like Waikiki. Perfectly shaped and sloped, waves at Waikiki crumble and push, spending their energy slowly. (Experts like breaking waves that curl and spend their energy faster, but those would kick your ‘okole in the beginning.) What we’re saying is: Hawaii is a surfer’s paradise, and more specifically, it’s a longboarder’s dreamland. So, if you’ve got a longboard and an itch to ride some tasty waves, you’re in the right place. Let’s explore the Best Places to Longboard on Oahu.
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Our Top Picks for Best Places to Longboard on Oahu
Waikiki Beach: Canoes
if you haven’t longboarded at Waikiki, have you really longboarded in Hawaii? Easily one of the Best Places to Longboard on Oahu (if not THE best) , with a range of different breaks spread beyond a classic white sand beach; it’s no wonder Waikiki is world-famous.
With so many spots in Waikiki to choose from, Canoes is the real MVP. Consistent? Check. Long, peeling waves? Double check. Canoes offers some of the best long boarding in the WORLD. And, because of the sandy bottom and (usually) soft sloping waves, Canoes is also one of the best places to go for surf lessons.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Bowls? Like, cereal?” Nope! Though, grabbing a bowl of acai post-ride? Not a bad idea.
Positioned right outside of the Ala Moana shopping center, these waves can get epic! Ala Moana Bowls is what you’d call a ‘left-hand reef break’. Which, in non-surfer jargon, means a super long, left-riding wave. You might battle for position on crowded days, but trust me, that ride? Sooo worth it.
North Shore’s Chuns
Ah, the North Shore. Legendary, epic, and oh-so-beautiful. But amidst all its famous breaks, there’s a gem for longboarders.
Chuns isn’t just a surf spot; it’s an experience. Think long, mellow rides. Waves that feel like they’re crafted just for your board. It’s perfect for those who are still getting the hang of longboarding or even the seasoned folks.
Last but definitely not least, Rock Piles. Sounds intense? Well, it kinda is.
It’s not as famous as the others, but man, it’s got character. This spot offers some delectable waves for longboarders – especially during the summer months. A word of caution? Watch out for those rocks! (It’s not just a clever name.)
Longboard Tips and Tricks for Oahu
- Timing: Early bird gets the worm. Or in this case, the wave. Get out at sunrise.
- Etiquette: Remember, always respect the other surfers. Wait your turn, don’t drop in, and generally observe surfer etiquette.
- Safety: No wave is worth an injury. Always be aware of your surroundings. And those rocks? Yeah, they hurt.
Longboarding Lessons on Oahu
Concessionaires give lessons right from the Waikiki Beach Center. It’s about $90 for an hour lesson—five people max per group. You’ll usually be allowed to keep the board an extra hour, but first-timers are usually so exhausted from paddling short distances (it’s more tiring than it looks) that you’ll probably pass on that extra hour—for now. Private lessons aren’t as desirable as you may think for one reason: You’ll be grateful for the rest while your fellow shredders take their turns.
Despite your preconceptions, odds are you will be able to ride a wave during your very first—and probably only necessary—lesson. Instructors come and go at these concessionaires, and although some of them can be pushy jerks, most are fine and it’s incidental to your objective—riding your first wave. And oh, what a water god you’ll feel like when you snag that first ride. The beginner boards are big and floaty, not like the small sticks you see the experts using.
Simply head to the Waikiki Beach Center in the heart of Waikiki and sign up. You do not need reservations, and classes are usually given on the hour. They also give lessons off the Hilton Hawaiian Village at a break called Kaisers, but beware that its waves aren’t as reliable as the smaller swells off Waikiki Beach Center.
Although Waikiki is the optimal choice, if the south shore is too flat (or too big) during your stay, you can also try these companies that teach elsewhere:
Sunset Suratt, locally known as Uncle Bryan, does a good job up on the North Shore. Their 2-hour lessons for $80 are a great way to learn outside of Waikiki. In Hale‘iwa.
Everything You Need to Know About Oahu Surfing
Alright, there you have it, some of the Best Places to Longboard on Oahu. Oahu isn’t just about those short boards and big airs. Whether you’re carving it up at Canoes, catching a left at Ala Moana Bowls, vibing at Chuns, or navigating Rock Piles, there’s a wave with your name on it.
So, here’s the plan: wax up that board, slap on some sunscreen, and hit these spots. And after? Grab a poke bowl, watch the sunset, and maybe, just maybe, plan tomorrow’s session. ‘Cause with waves like these? You’ll be itching to get back out there. Stay stoked and ride on!