State of the Beach/State Reports/HI/Surfing Areas

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Inventory and Perception of Status

The Surf Report identifies 128 well-known surf spots on the island of Oahu, Hawaii; however, the Surfrider Oahu Chapter survey reports that the island of Oahu, Hawaii, offers anywhere from 200 to 300 surf spots.

There was a State-funded Surfing Site Survey conducted by Save Our Surf in 1971 that identified 1,600 surfing areas in Hawaii!

The surfing areas are in fair condition, but water quality remains a threat in certain areas. Aside from water quality, the four surfing regions of Oahu — North Shore, South Shore, Windward (east) Side, Leeward (west) Side — each faces its own distinct problems. The Ala Moana area, in particular, is under the constant threat of poor water quality. Located in the heavily developed area of Honolulu, the urban runoff travels through the Ala Wai canal and deposits right into Ala Moana (Bowls). In addition, a dredging project is planned that will take sediment and dump it into a deeper part of the ocean. The surf spot "Flies" at Kaka'ako Park (east of Honolulu Harbor entrance channel) is threatened by planned expansion of the beach park and parking lot. The state's idea of mitigating this by constructing an artificial surf reef is not acceptable to the O'ahu Chapter of Surfrider Foundation! Access to Laniakea, one of the most popular spots on Oahu's North Shore has been threatened.

Many well known surfing areas also exist on the islands of Hawaii (Kona area, Kohala coast, and Hilo area), Kauai (Hanalei Bay area in Winter, Poipu Beach area in Summer), and Maui (Honolua Bay, Ma'alaea, and "Jaws"). The threat of destruction or severe alteration of the Ma'alaea surfing area on Maui by expansion of the breakwater for a small boat harbor has been a concern of the Maui Chapter of Surfrider Foundation for many years. A important victory was achieved in 2012 when the U.S. Army Corps on Engineers abandoned plans to expand the small boat harbor. A year later, Honolua Bay, a famous surf spot on Maui's north shore, was saved from development.

Another issue on Maui is the proposed expansion and dredging of Kahului Harbor, which would wipe out Old Man's, Jetties and Harbor Lights surf sites, and alter Ledges forever. For more information on this issue, call the Surfrider Foundation Maui Chapter at (808) 298-8254.

Coastal development threatens several surf spots along the Kohala coast on Hawaii. Water quality problems threaten surfing areas in the vicinity of the Waimea River mouth in Kauai, due to industrial discharges. Water quality is also threatened at several other locations in the Islands due to the use of cesspools or improperly designed or maintained septic systems.

Recognition by State

Hawaii recognizes waves as a valuable recreational, economic, and cultural resource. Despite this and the fact that tourism (and surfing-related tourism) is a very large part of its economy, the state does not seem to be particularly concerned with the conditions at threatened surfing areas and beaches. Recently, an EIS for the expansion of Kahului Harbor on Maui did evaluate potential impacts to surfing areas within the harbor.

Section 205A-2 Coastal zone management program objectives and policies refers to surfing in providing adequate, accessible, and diverse recreational opportunities in the coastal zone management area including – protecting coastal resources uniquely suited for recreational activities that cannot be provided in other areas; requiring replacement of coastal resources having significant recreational value; requiring reasonable monetary compensation to the State for recreation when replacement is not feasible or desirable; providing, ensuring and managing coastal access; providing an adequate supply of shoreline parks and other recreational facilities suitable for public recreation; ensuring public recreational use of county, state, and federally owned or controlled shoreline lands and waters having recreational value consistent with public safety standards and conservation of natural resources; adopting water quality standards to protect and restore recreational value of coastal waters; developing new shoreline recreational opportunities, where appropriate, such as artificial beaches and reefs for surfing; encouraging reasonable dedication of shoreline areas with recreational value for public use as part of discretionary approvals or permits by the land use commission, board of land and natural resources, county planning commissions.

In early 2010 the Hawaii legislature began consideration of SB 2646 which would designate certain areas on Oahu (and perhaps other islands) as Hawaii surfing reserves.

The Hawaii CZM Program has a comprehensive surfing photographic data base.

Surfrider Foundation Chapters

Hilo Chapter19° 43' 47.00" N, 155° 5' 24.00" W
Kauai Chapter21° 57' 31.00" N, 159° 40' 15.00" W
Kona Kai Ea Chapter19° 38' 26.00" N, 155° 59' 44.00" W
Maui Chapter20° 54' 12.00" N, 156° 22' 10.00" W
Oahu Chapter21° 18' 25.00" N, 157° 51' 30.00" W

<html><fieldset class="rcoptions"> <legend></html>Hilo Chapter<html></legend></html> Hilo Chapter Website

You can contact the Hilo Chapter via email at


<html><fieldset class="rcoptions"> <legend></html>Kauai Chapter<html></legend></html> Kauai Chapter Website


<html><fieldset class="rcoptions"> <legend></html>Kona Kai Ea Chapter<html></legend></html> Kona Kai Ea Chapter Website

Surfrider Foundation has a Kona Kai Ea chapter on the Big Island. Contact John Simmerman at to get involved.


<html><fieldset class="rcoptions"> <legend></html>Maui Chapter<html></legend></html> Maui Chapter Website

Surfrider Foundation's Maui Chapter is working to bring life to its mission of preserving beach access, preserving near shore water quality, and protecting recreational and cultural sites on Maui. To get involved with Surfrider, contact them here.

You can contact the Maui Chapter via email at


<html><fieldset class="rcoptions"> <legend></html>Oahu Chapter<html></legend></html> Oahu Chapter Website

The O‘ahu Chapter's mission is to improve water quality, keep and open beach and ocean access, and to assure responsible development on the island of Oahu. Aside from running their monthly beach clean-ups, meetings, fundraisers, and educational booths at various events, their main efforts currently include:

  • Opposing the Turtle Bay expansion without an updated Environmental Impact Statement
  • Addressing beach access issues in Aina Haina, at Kaisers/Bowls, and in Kaka‘ako
  • Sponsoring and helping to run the new Surfrider Spirit Sessions Program to help at-risk troubled teenage girls through surfing
  • Focusing on chapter growth by developing and utilizing intern positions
  • Developing a state-wide run-off reduction campaign with the Kauai, Maui, and Kona Chapters that will help the Hawaii chapters to work closely with one another

Check out the Oahu Chapter blog at

You can contact the Oahu Chapter via email at


Surfrider Staff Contact

Stuart Coleman
Hawaii Field Coordinator
Phone: (808) 942-3841

Information Sources

The summary of surfing areas comes from Surfer Magazine's The Surf Report issues for the state. Surfrider Foundation chapters were surveyed to establish surfing conditions in the state.

In 2007 Hawaii unveiled a new beach safety website that provides surf and weather forecast information for the main beach areas on each island and categorizes the risk at each beach.

A few of the many sources of information on surfing in Hawaii include:

State of the Beach Report: Hawaii
Hawaii Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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