Learning how to surf in Hawaii can be the experience of a lifetime, especially if you go in prepared. While surfing in Hawaii sounds fun, it does require many precautions to keep you safe. Understanding the challenging nature of the waves is just as important as learning where to surf. Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Learn the "Beach Hazard" rating system. Hawaiian beaches offer a color-coded rating system to denote the level of cautionary measures you should take. For example, a yellow flag informs you of general caution, while a red flag denotes high hazard, and a black flag means extreme caution. The heights of the waves that break at face level determine the color given. Black or extreme caution rating denotes waves breaking at face level of at least seven feet. Each beach in Hawaii uses this universal system to keep everyone safe, so keep a look out for them.
- Visit North shore and Pipeline beach on Oahu. North Shore and Pipeline attract a lot of attention and it’s a fun place to watch professional surfers. Waves range from 10 to 30 feet between October to March. So if you are inexperienced try visiting in the summer when the waves are not so high.
- Learn the difference between a plunging and surging wave. Hawaii has plunging and surging breaks. Plunging breaks are waves at a ninety degree angle that curl over until they break, while surging breaks are so steep that they break at the shore. Approaching a wave for the first time might intimidate you. Consider using local surfing schools. Many claim to get you comfortable in a few hours.
- Rent Surf equipment when you get to Hawaii. Many surf schools offer rentals on all types of equipment. Most offer rentals on Fiberglass, Epoxy, and body board surf boards by the hour, half-day, full-day, and or even overnight. Rentals range in price for a half day, so don’t worry about bringing your own equipment.
- Use a surfboard with dull rounded edges. The rounded edges allow a significantly lower chance of injury while surfing. Many surfers suffer injuries from direct hits with their own boards while surfing. An injury from a direct impact of a sharp edge of a surfboard is worse than that of one with rounded edges. Make sure you don’t make that mistake.
- Surf in Maui instead of Waikiki. Surfing requires a lot of training in order to feel comfortable. Injuries occur to even the best surfers. Surfing waves in Maui allows you to get better command of the sport. The waves are calmer in Maui, but the waves in Waikiki are not. Take small steps and start in Maui.
- Use extra caution when surfing alone. Many professional surfers have died with unfortunate circumstances while surfing. Let a life guard know that you are new and going out by yourself. A lifeguard can save you when you’re struggling or in danger. Make them your best friend when surfing.
Surfing requires coordination and a high level of safety. Enjoy the excitement of the waves, but stay safe.