The Big Island does not have the variety of great surfing spots found on Oahu or Maui, but it does have decent waves and a thriving surf culture. Local kids and avid surfers frequent a number of places up and down the Kona and Kohala Coasts of west Hawaii. Expect high surf in winter and much calmer activity during summer. The surf scene is much more active on the Kona side.
Pine Trees. Among the best places to catch the waves is Pine Trees. Keep in mind that this is a very popular local surf spot on an island where there aren't all that many surf spots, so be very respectful. Off Hwy. 11, about 2 miles south of Kona Airport, Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740.
Kahaluu Beach Park. Slightly north of Kahaluu Beach Park, intermediate surfers brave the rocks to get out to a popular break just past the beach's calm lagoons and snorkelers. Alii Dr., next to Sheraton Keauhou Beach Hotel, Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740.
Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area. The Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area is a good place for catching wave action. A couple of the island's outfitters conduct surf lessons here, as the break is far away from potentially dangerous rocks and reefs. Kuakini Rd., Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740.
Honolii Cove. North of Hilo, Honolii Cove is the best surfing spot on the eastern side of the island. Off Hwy. 19, near mile marker 4, Hilo, HI, 96720.
Equipment, Lessons and Tours
Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors. This certified school with experienced instructors helps novices become wave riders and offers tours that take more experienced riders to Kona's top surf spots. There's a one-hour introductory lesson ($75 for groups, $98 for individuals), but the two-hour lesson ($98 for groups, $175 for individuals) is recommended to get you ready to surf. 75-5909 Alii Dr., Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740. PHONE: 808/324-0442 or 808/936-7873. www.surflessonshawaii.com.
Ocean Eco Tours Surf School. Kona's oldest surf school emphasizes the basics and specializes in beginners. All lessons are taught by certified instructors, and the school guarantees that you will surf. Lessons start at $95 per person. If you're hooked, sign up for a three-day package for $270. Honokohau Harbor, 74-425 Kealakehe Pkwy., Kailua-Kona, HI, 96740. PHONE: 808/324-7873. www.oceanecotours.com.
Orchid Land Surf Shop. The shop has a wide variety of water sports and surf equipment for sale or rent. It stocks custom surfboards, body boards, and surf apparel. The staff also handles repairs. 262 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo, HI, 96720. PHONE: 808/935-1533. www.orchidlandsurf.com.