St. Peters By the Sea Catholic Church, built in 1880, overlooking Kahalu’u Bay.
When people think of surfing in Hawaii, the Big Island usually is not the first place to pop into their head. However, it has some of the best breaks to offer throughout the islands that are typically less crowded than popular surf spots such as Waikiki Beach on Oahu. Here is a “Top-Five” list of surf breaks in Kailua-Kona:
1. Kahalu’u Bay
Sharing “party waves” on a small day at Kahalu’u. Photo by Emma Moore.
Kahalu’u Bay is one of the best spots for surfing in Kona for all skill levels. Whether you have never stepped on a surfboard before or have been surfing your whole life, Kahalu’u has waves to offer for everyone. On smaller days, beginners can get surf lessons or rent boards from just across the street at Kahulu’u Surf and Sea located on Ali'i Drive.
2. Kohanaiki Beach Park (“Pine Trees”)
Pine Trees has over five different waves for surfers to choose from.
Kohanaiki Beach Park, known by the locals as “Pine Trees,” is one of the most popular and consistent spots one can find in Kailua-Kona and is suitable for all skill levels. Because of its world-renowned waves, it is not uncommon to see some of Hawaii’s best surfers in the lineup. Kohanaiki Beach Park, located near Kohanaiki Private Club Community, is a popular camping spot for families and friends to enjoy the surf all weekend long. Camping permits can be obtained on the County of Hawaii website.
A larger winter day with a perfect NW swell direction. Photo by Emma Moore.
One can typically find all of the locals in the lineup when Lyman’s is breaking. This fairly-exposed reef and left point break has reasonably consistent surf, with winter being the best time of year because of its North facing swells. Kona locals love Lymans for its long-sloping wave face and the aloha shared in the lineup between surfers.
Banyans gets its name from the hotel and mini-mart located next to the surf spot. Photo by Emma Moore.
Voted as one of “Hawaii’s 10 Best Waves” by Freesurf Magazine, Banyans is a local favorite for its fast and barreling waves. This exciting reef breaks mostly right, but the lefts can be quite good too. On any given day one can find some of the best surfers on the island posted up, including professional surfers Shane Dorian and CJ Kanuha along with a long list of up and coming groms (young surfers).
5. Honl's Beach
My son, Zion Nicholson, surfing a right at Honl’s Beach.
Along with being a great spot for a picnic in Kona, Honls is one of the best reef breaks one can find. With fast and powerful rights and lefts breaking over the reef, Honls breaks almost all year round but the lefts during a summer southwest swell are best.
One of the more interesting aspects of surfing on the Big Island is the cultural significance that each surf spot holds. Many of these bays and beaches have ancient Hawaiian he’iaus (temples) or historical buildings such as St. Peter’s Catholic Church at Kahalu’u Bay. The epic surf and historical sights all add to make surfing on the Big Island a special experience for all.