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When it comes to Hawaii bucket lists, surfing reigns supreme — no surprise there. The famous sport dominates contemporary pop culture references in everything from movies, television and music to fashion, food and drinks, and everyone wants a piece of the action.
Fortunately for visitors who want to immerse themselves in this aspect of local culture, surfing lessons are readily available and accessible. By the end of a beginner’s class, most people find themselves grinning from ear to ear while standing on a board and gliding toward shore.
Here are four fine Hawaii surf schools that can help make that dream come true.
Hawaiian Paddle Sports, MauiSince surfing is so popular, many classes can get crowded. Not so with Hawaiian Paddle Sports, which promises small, private lessons with no more than four guests per instructor. Sessions take place at Ukumehame Beach Park between Lahaina and Kihei, a great spot to learn because it typically attracts fewer folks.
Before everyone gets wet, staffers offer clients step-by-step dos and don’ts. They talk about where waves come from, how to read them and how to ride them. Once in the water, they give gentle feedback, nudging people out of their comfort zones without pushing too hard. Afterward, participants receive free digital photos of their achievements.
Praised for its environmental awareness, Hawaiian Paddle Sports also takes clients snorkeling, kayaking, outrigger canoeing, canoe surfing, whale watching and stand-up paddleboarding.
Kona Boys, Hawaii IslandKahaluu Bay, located in Kona, is home to a revered surf heiau (temple) where ancient chiefs prayed for waves. Today, it’s one of Hawaii Island’s top beach parks. It’s also the preferred surf instruction spot for Kona Boys, whose crew is adept at teaching individuals and groups with differing skillsets.
Lessons begin with an orientation on the basics, from equipment and etiquette to respect for the sea. When guests dive in, they work on paddling, turning and sitting on the board, all of which helps them feel comfortable catching a few waves. Novices do best by practicing close to shore, while more seasoned surfers like the challenges of Kahaluu’s outer reaches.
Since ocean currents vary, Kona Boys recommends that clients keep their schedules flexible so their lesson is timed with optimal conditions.
Poipu Beach Surf School, KauaiBorn and raised on Kauai, Poipu Beach Surf School owner Doug Muraoka went on to become a professional bodyboarder and top-notch surfer. These days, he and his team share their knowledge and passion for wave-riding with eager visitors.
Headquartered on Kauai’s south shore, Poipu Beach Surf School starts its lessons at Nukumoi Surf Co., where participants watch a video that covers surfing fundamentals and safety. Next, clients move to the waters fronting Sheraton Kauai Resort, known for swells that are often mellow and easy to ride.
The company’s instructors are laid-back enough to calm nerves, but they’re also proficient at helping first-timers get up on the board and master a wave. It’s a family-friendly firm that caters to kids and adults of all levels of fitness.
Surf HNL, OahuWith staffers who maintain an upbeat attitude and provide plenty of encouragement, Surf HNL prides itself on its customer service. Lifeguard-certified instructors promote fun as well as safety, making it a positive experience for all involved.
Surf HNL features two Oahu locations for its lessons. For visitors based in Waikiki, it conducts classes at Ala Moana Beach Park, a protected bay with views of Diamond Head. For guests staying in one of west Oahu’s resorts, sessions are held at Kalaeloa Beach Park in Kapolei.
For starters, a half-hour land demonstration emphasizes the importance of positioning, both on the board and in relation to the waves. When the gang feels ready, they take to the water to embrace the surfing lifestyle.