O’ahu, pronounced ow-aa-hoo, is the third biggest of the Hawaiian islands and houses about ⅔ of the population of the entire state of Hawaii. It is sometimes referred to as the Gathering Place and is found within the county of Honolulu.
The island is 71 km (44 miles) long and 48 km (30 miles) wide, with 365 km (227 miles) of shoreline. The island is set on top of 2 shield volcanoes – Ko’olau and Wai’anae Ranges. There is a large saddle (a big valley) in between the volcanoes.
There are 5 main regions of Oahu, North Shore, Leeward Coast, Central, Windward Coast, and Honolulu.
The North Shore contains 8 different beaches – Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay Beach Park, Ehukai Beach, Haleiwa Beach Park, Chun’s Reef, Ke Waena Beach, and Kawela Bay.
The Leeward Coast has 3 main beaches, Depot Beach Park, Makaha Beach, and Keawaula Beach. There are also 2 man-made lagoons for the Ko Olina Resort.
The Windward Coast has 2 main beaches, the Makapuu Beach Park and the Kualoa Regional Park.
The south shore, near Honolulu, has 3 different beaches, the Waikiki, Ala Moana Regional Park, and the Magic Island Lagoon. The Waikiki beach is split into at least 5 sections – Fort DeRussy Beach, Duke’s Beach, Kuhio Beach, Queen’s Surf Beach, and Kaimana Beach Park.
1. Surf Hawaii Surf School
This is located on the legendary North Shore of the Island of Oahu, near the Haleiwa beach. The surf school also offers a surf and yoga retreat, making it the perfect place for relaxing.
This school offers private, semi-private, and group surf lessons lasting 2.5 hours each. The prices for this range from $85 to $150 per person. All instructors are trained professionals with lifeguard certification. They are all experienced surfers and are certified in CPR and AED.
The waves are largest here between December and February. The lessons are tailored to suit your skill level and the price includes surfboard, leash, and rash guard rentals. You will also learn surfing etiquette, ethics, and how to catch the perfect wave.
The company also offers a 2, 3, 4, or 5-day course option for a more intensive surfing experience. A typical lesson will include a basic ocean awareness lesson and 20 minutes of on-shore orientation. This will allow you to become familiar with the concept of the break before you enter the water.
2. Hawaii Waves Surf School
The Hawaii Waves Surf School is located off the Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa. All the instructors are lifeguards certified by the Red Cross and surfing instructors certified by the state of Hawaii.
The school offers private and group surf lessons, lasting 2 hours each. Prices for the private lessons begin at $125 and these are suitable for people of all ages. Group surf lessons start at $99 but only people aged 13 or over can participate.
You can also choose to participate in a 3 or 5 session surf camp, sessions lasting 2 hours each. These are suitable for surfers of all ages and abilities. These camps can be done as a group for $220 and $350 per person respectively. You can also opt for a semi-private camp costing $300 and $420 per person respectively.
You can also participate in an adult private camp ($400 or $580 per person) or a kids private camp ($350 or $500 per person respectively). These sessions include surfboard, leash, wax, and surf shirt rental.
3. Surf HNL
Surf HNL was established in 2005 and has been providing surf and paddleboard lessons to visitors and residents of Oahu since. The company is based in Waikiki and the main beaches the company uses are Honolulu, Kapolei, and Waianae. All instructors with the company are certified lifeguards to ensure the safety of clients.
Surf lessons are offered at Ala Moana Beach Park and include round-trip transport from all Waikiki hotels. This makes it easy to get around with no hassle. The lessons last an hour each and you can choose from private, kids’ private, or group lessons. The prices for these are $129, $109, and $99 respectively.
You can also have lessons at Kalaeloa Beach Park, near Aulani. Again you can get private, kids private, group, and exclusive adult lessons (2 adults to one instructor). Prices for these are a little higher, at $139, $119, $99, and $119 respectively.
Rash guards, reef shoes, and surfboard rentals are all included in the lesson prices. You will need to bring a towel, sunscreen, and a swimsuit.
4. Waikiki Beach Services
This company began in 1955 and offers daily surf and stand-up paddleboard lessons, outrigger canoe rides, and catamaran charter sails. As the name suggests, the company is based in Waikiki near the beach.
All instructors have a Blue Card, proving that they are state certified and can work legally. They are also lifeguard and CPR certified, to ensure the safety of all surfing clients.
Waikiki Beach Services offers group lessons for surfers aged 13 and over and private lessons for all ages. These lessons last an hour each.
The private group lessons will have a ratio of between 2 and 5 students per instructor. Private group lessons cost $85 and the private lessons cost $120. Tips for the instructors at the end of the lessons are encouraged.
The lessons start with a safety briefing on the sand that lasts between 5 and 10 minutes. You must be able to swim to participate. Rash guards and all other necessary equipment are provided and included in the price. Pregnant women cannot participate in the surf or stand-up paddleboard lessons.
5. Natty Surf
This company is based in Haleiwa and has been established since 1999. They offer private, semi-private, and group surfing lessons for people of all abilities.
A 1-hour private lesson will cost you $125 while a semi-private lesson (2 students to 1 instructor) is $119 per person. A 2-hour private surf lesson will cost you $185, while the semi-private is $149 per person.
A 2-hour group lesson with between 4 and 6 students will cost $75 per person. You must be 12 years of age or older to participate.
You can also participate in a 2-hour mini-group surf lesson at any age. This is a group of 3 students to 1 instructor and will cost $99 per person.
You will need to bring water shoes, a rash guard, snacks, sunscreen, and a water bottle to your lessons. The meeting point for the surf lessons will vary according to the wave size. When the waves are smaller the group should meet at the Kaiaka Beach Park, and when they are larger it is Pua’ena Beach Park.
6. Gone Surfing Hawaii
Gone Surfing has been established since 2010 and is based in Waikiki. All instructors are CPR, first aid, and lifeguard certified and have a deep love for surfing.
Surf lessons begin with a 15-minute lesson in ocean safety and awareness from the safety of the sand. The company offers private lessons, semi-private lessons (2-3 people), and sunset surfing.
Sunset surfing sessions are for up to 2 people and cost $350 each for an hour and a half session. These sessions are often held between 5 and 7.30 pm, although this varies depending on the seasons.
The semi-private sessions last an hour and a half and cost $120 per person. This gives you an hour and a quarter of wave riding time. Private surf lessons are $165 per person and last an hour and a half. If you have children under the age of 13, this is the only class they can participate in.
Lesson prices include the cost of renting a rash guard and a surfboard. You will need to bring a towel, sunscreen, and a swimsuit to your lesson.
7. Blue Ocean Breeze Surf School
This surf school was started in 2004 in Waikiki. The beach areas used for sessions vary according to your surfing competence level. You will need to bring a swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, and a bottle of water. For a small additional fee, you can ask the company’s professional photographer to take photos of your lessons.
The lessons begin with a warming yoga flow to stretch out your body and ready your mind for surfing. The session then moves onto Pilates to help increase your balance. Before entering the sea you will learn about ocean safety and your equipment.
Costs for adult group lessons range from $90 for one to $415 for 10. Children’s group lessons start from $70 for one lesson and can go up to $375 for 10.
Private adult lessons start at $120 for one, and the prices reduce the more lessons you purchase – dropping to $70 each when you purchase 10. Private children’s lessons start at $100 if you just purchase one, and drop to $70 each when you buy 10.
8. Sunset Suzy’s Surf School
This is a surf school in Haleiwa that has been in business for over 20 years. The owner, Suzy, is the only female city and county lifeguard on the North Shore.
The surf lessons are also attended by her 2 dogs, Kaya and Coco. They are held in a beginner cove with small waves, filled with Hawaiian sea turtles.
Sunset Suzy’s offers semi-private, private, and group surf lessons. These are all suitable for people over the age of 3 and last 2 hours. Semi-private surf lessons are for up to 2 people and will cost $125 per person. Private lessons cost $150 per person.
Lesson prices include the rental of equipment such as a rash guard, surfboard, and leash. All that you need to bring is a swimsuit, sunscreen, and a towel.
Sunset Suzy’s also offers surf camps on the North Shore. You can visit for 4 days and 3 nights for the price of $1,395 or 6 days and 5 nights for $1,895.
Camp activities include residence in a beach bungalow, transport, massage, surf safaris, hikes, snorkeling, island tours, live music, bonfires, and swimming with sea turtles.
9. Polu Lani Surf
This company is based in Honolulu and was opened by a man with more than 30 years of surfing experience. Water, snacks, and a photographer are provided in the surf lessons.
To improve the safety of clients, there are never more than 4 students to 1 instructor. The instructors are trained and experienced in teaching disabled students and small children, so you can place your trust in them.
The company offers private, semi-private, and group lessons. The prices are not listed on their website and you need to call them to get a quote. They will provide you with transport to and from the beaches to take the hassle out of the surfing experience.
10. Jamie O’Brien Surf Experience
This is a surf company located on the North Shore at the Turtle Bay Resort. They are the only commercial operator at Turtle Bay and Kawela Bay, meaning that they can provide lessons in a more private setting than other companies. The instructions are professional and very experienced, allowing them to make your lesson the best they can.
This company offers private surf lessons for 2 hours for the price of $219 per person. An Ohana surf lesson costs $149 per person. Group lessons can have up to 12 people involved and will set you back $119 per person. Ohana surf lessons are designed for small groups such as couples and families.
The company also offers lessons for kids aged 12 and under. The sessions last an hour each and will cost you $129 per child. These sessions are run with a ratio of one student to one instructor so you can be assured of your child’s safety.
As well as surf lessons the company can take students on guided surfing experiences to explore the world-renowned waves surrounding the North Shore. These tours are for up to 4 people and give you a local’s insight into the area. You must have some prior knowledge of surfing to do this, as it is not a lesson. This experience will cost you $999.