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Hawaii Vacation Surfing On The Big Island

by Fergy Ferguson

Hawaii Vacation Surfing on The Big Island is just a little different than the other main islands.  Due to all the activities that are available on “The Big Island”, surfing is generally not something a lot of people think about when vacationing here.  Don’t be discouraged though, because there is still a very active community of locals and pros that will help you with either lessons, or directions (and rentals) to spots that will fit your skill level.

Hawaii’s Kona District on the western coast of the Big Island of Hawai’i is a popular place to learn to surf.  Kona means “leeward” in Hawaiian, or “dry side of the island”, so Kona’s year round great weather almost guarantee’s that you will get to surf as much as you desire.  Stretching approximately 60 miles from Kona International Airport to past Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island’s lava-lined western coast, coffee farms and historic Hawaiian landmarks line the Kona District.  But it’s the surrounding still, clear waters which make it ideal for surfers, snorkeler’s, and all type of water sports.  Summer is a very popular time for families, and the waves are generally smaller and gentler here during the summer season.

Something a lot of people don’t realize is that surfing actually has its roots on the Big Island.  Much more than a sport or a pastime to the Hawaiians, there is actually a Hawaiian Heiau (temple), Ku’emanu, that still sits at Kahalu’u Bay Beach Park in Kailua-Kona.  Ku’emanu is believed to be the only heiau that was built specifically to honor the gods of surfing, and is slowly being restored today.  Due to the historical significance of this heiau, and the excellent break that sits directly across from the structure.  Kahalu’u Bay has been a favorite for beginning and experienced surfers alike.  Now you know why surfing on the Big Island is particularly special, and surfing here is where Kings & Hawaiian royalty used to play….Cool….

As I mentioned in my prior blog posts on this topic, if you’ve never surfed before it’s best to take a class when you head out into the waves.  With a good instructor, most people will have the fun of surfing a wave on their first day.  A good surf school can teach you the basics, and make sure you enjoy the sport as quickly as possible.

Prior Posts… Learn To Surf On Maui ….. Kauai Surfing

Kailua-Kona is home to Kona Mike and his experienced team at Kona Mike’s Surf Adventures LLC.  With at least 10 years of surfing experience the instructors here are CPR, First Aid, lifeguard certified, as well as trained in professional rescue.  Located within minutes of great surfing areas for beginners, Mike ensures you’ll get the ride of your life!  Per person, group surf lessons are $99, semi-private lessons: $125 (up to 4), private one-on-one surf lessons $150 and multiple lessons (3) are $260.

Located in Kailua-Kona’s Honokohau Harbor, owners Rob and Bridgette Hemsher specialize in teaching beginners how to surf at Ocean Echo Tours.  A top surfing school since 1996, their 2 ½ hour lessons include a 30-minute overview of how to “read” the ocean and surf safely.  Offered every day at 8:30 and 11:30 am, per person, a group surf lesson is $95, private lesson $150, semi-private lesson (up to 4 people with your own instructor) $125, and multiple lessons (3) $270.

There are lot’s of other surf spots, and instructors, for your Hawaii vacation surfing on The Big Island.  What follows is listing of places and companies that will set you up to really enjoy your surfing vacation.

Just south of Kailua-Kona, Kahalu’u Beach Park is known for “honu” (Hawaiian green sea turtles) which frequent the area.  During the reign of Hawaiian kings, King Kamehameha wanted a safe place for his family to enjoy the ocean away from riptides and high waves.  So he had his workers construct a protective seawall on a small cove at Kahalu’u Beach, making this area an ideal place to learn surfing.  The “mana” (Spiritual Power) here is powerful, and the abundant sea life here gives surfers the chance to see turtles and multi-colored fish swimming in the surrounding clear waters. Shade trees also surround this beautiful salt-and-pepper sand beach.  Once you’ve taken your lesson, Kahalu’u Beach is also a great place to practice.  Local surfers here are generally patient and there’s plenty of room to catch a wave.

Just across the road from Kahalu’u Bay, the Kona Surf Company, offers lessons for all skills levels.  Their two-hour sessions are taught daily at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, and 3:00 pm (depending on wind and tide conditions) by CPR and First Aid trained instructors.  Private lessons are $175, semi-private $129, and group lessons $99.  Also at Kahalu’u Beach Park is Surfer Bear Hawaii.  Ranked high by online reviewers, has over 25 years of experience teaching surfing in Hawaii.  Reviewers noted Surfer Bear Hawaii’s instructor, Dominic Del Rosario, is especially great at teaching kids and working with families!  Call (808) 936-3654 for specific pricing and availability.

For an authentic Aloha experience, head north to the Kohala Coast. Here you’ll find Hulakai.  Locally owned and operated, the folks at Hulakai teach the ancient Hawaiian sport of stand-up paddling.  After 1 ½ hours of basic instruction, they’ll even let you paddle off on your own through stunning Anaeho’omalu Bay (A-Bay).  Offering brilliant sunsets, crystal waters and perfect ocean conditions, your paddle through “A-Bay” promises to be unforgettable!  Stand-up paddleboard lessons per person are $98.  Or, if you prefer to stay inside the lagoon, lessons are $68 for 45 minutes.  Hulakai also teaches surfing. Lessons are $150 per person.  For two or more people, it’s $125. Where you learn will depend on surf conditions and breaks up north.

In addition to the beaches I’ve already mentioned, south Kona’s calm, clear water is a perfect place for beginning surfers to practice.  Here you can spot dolphins and honu while you surf!   Also, just south of Kona about half way between Magic Sands, and the Kahaluu Beach Park, Lymans Bay has nice waves suitable for beginners.

If you go north, Kua Bay is another spot to consider with easy access, and a white sand beach that is almost perfect.  Kua Bay is not only a very popular beach for the locals, it also has some great waves too.  Another side benefit of Kua Bay is that you can take a long walk and pass through former Hawaiian settlements on the 4.5 miles of Ala Kahakai (“shore line path”) on its way south. Ala Kahakai is a 175-mile National Historic Trail full of cultural and historical significance.

Dude… that you know you can surf on The Big Island too, it’s time to get the board shorts and rash guard on and hit the waves!

A hui ho…
Seattle to Hawaii Vacation Consultant
Call 206-623-2490

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