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Rory Brown on the 5 Best Beginner Surfing Beaches in Kauai, Hawaii

People come to Kauai, Hawaii for the scenery, the surfing, and to scarf down the local cuisine.

Kauai is somewhat off the beaten track among the islands that make up Hawaii -although tourism is still its major industry. It’s the northernmost of the eight major islands, and small – only 25 miles long and 33 miles wide. 70,000 people live there, and since I have a house there, I regard Kauai as my home, too.

The Garden Island, as it’s known, has beautiful scenery and lush greenery, thanks to the fact that it does rain here more than on any other island in the chain. But the rains are typically light showers that don’t last long, so there’s usually no need to postpone a trip to the beach.

Oh, the beaches of Kauai. If you’re an experienced surfer there are some excellent locations here for you, but if you’re a beginner – and everyone begins somewhere, so why not begin while you’re on vacation in Kauai? – here are some beaches with gentle waves that are just right for you.

Hanalei Bay - North

Located on Kauai’s north shore, Hanalei is considered to be one of the island’s prettiest beaches.  It’s also not bad for beginning surfers – at least during the summer months. The beach is over 2 miles long, and there’s no reef to worry about. It’s best to start your surfing here early. Once the trade winds start blowing later on in the day, the waves can become choppy.

There are plenty of surf schools here, to get you started in the right direction. 

After you’ve spent the day on the beach, put on some casual attire (no shorts) and head into Princeville to check out the Kauai Grill, inside the St. Regis Hotel. The food is great, especially the lamb chops and the coffee-crusted filet mignon. The views from their lounge bar, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, are nonpareil.  Go for the sunsets. 

Kahili Beach - North

Also on Kauai’s north shore, this beach, more often called Rock Quarry Beach because there’s a rock quarry nearby, can be a good one for beginners, unless the trade winds are really blowing. If the waves at Hanalei aren’t cooperating, you could try Kahili beach. It’s another beach popular with the locals as well, and the greenery here is gorgeous, too.

Anahola Bay – East 

You’ll find Anahola Bay on the east side of Kauai. It’s somewhat secluded, but you’ll be able to see it just fine, and sunbathers will love the scenery here while you’re out testing the waves. There’s an outlying reef that blocks a lot of the waves, so by the time they get to shore they’re pretty weak – just right for a beginner. There’s also some picnic tables and places to camp. 

Locals love to come here too, and it’s crowded on the weekends.

Kalapaki Beach - East

Kalapaki Beach is also on the east side of Kauai. Not only is this beach an ideal place to learn how to surf, but you can also learn boogie boarding and stand up paddleboarding. Rental stands for these items proliferate in the area, and there are hotels nearby including the Marriott Beach Resort.

Kiahuna Beach - South

You’ve been north and east; now it’s time to go south. Kiahuna Beach is protected by an outlying reef that results in calm waters inside, perfect for learning surfing, boogie boarding, and for snorkeling. More experienced surfers can paddle outside the reef to pick up some stronger waves. Be sure to bring some beach umbrellas to provide shade.

Kiahuana beach is nestled in between Poipu Beach and Lawai Beach (also an excellent choice for the beginning surfer) – just follow the signs.

Surfing is a great sport, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, but it’s best to take lessons before you begin. It’s not as easy as all those surfing movies make it appear!

Rory Brown is a food critic and blogger specializing in healthy diet and lifestyle choices. Beginning in Charleston, SC, he has attracted a large following by offering nuanced takes on fine cuisine with a focus on health. Rory Brown splits his time between Charleston, SC, Kauai, Sydney, and Lake Como, keeping his finger firmly on the culinary pulse across the globe.

Connect with Rory Brown (Charleston, SC) Online:

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