The Surf Breaks of Waikiki Beach Hawaii by Hawaiian South Shore Written by Matt Rott

June 21 23:15 2021
Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous stretches of sand in the world and home to a number of Hawaii’s best surf spots.

Although not known for the huge barrels that the North Shore produces, Waikiki Beach’s waves hold a special place in both surfing and Hawaii’s history, and are arguably the birthplace of modern wave riding.

The waves on Waikiki are generally soft and forgiving, breaking over reef and sand during summertime south swells, which tend to range from small to medium (1 to 6 feet Hawaiian scale, or 2 to 12 feet on the face). Most of the waves are best on a longboard, although there are a few that get hollow and rippable when the swell gets larger.

Queens: Located in front of Queen Lili’uokalani’s beach home, Queens was named in the early 1900s and breaks just east of where the Duke Kahanamoku statute stands today. A soft, shapely right-hander with a short left on occasion, Queens has become the de facto center of traditional logging in Waikiki, and is the home break of some of Hawaii’s best longboarders. If you are looking to maximize your noseriding time or simply partake in a bit of surfing history, Queens is the place to do it.

Canoes: Perfect beginner spot. Named for the ever-present outrigger canoes that come barreling through the lineup on a regular basis, Canoes is the most crowded spot at Waikiki Beach, largely because it is so soft and user-friendly. Expect to see hundreds of beginners on rental boards, SUPs, catamarans, and of course canoes in the lineup.

Populars (“Pops”): Pops got its name because it’s so dang popular (who would have thought?!), Pops breaks over sand and is located outside of Canoes, which means it’s a pretty long paddle to access the wave. Similar in shape to Queens (but a bit softer), Pops is a right-hander breaking into a channel and tends to be way less crowded than the other waves in the area due to the paddle.

Threes: The third recognized wave in Waikiki (hence the name), Threes is a perfect right-hander breaking into a semi-channel located to the east of Kaiser’s and the other Ala Moana lineups. Popular with both noseriders and shortboarders, especially when there is a decent south swell running (chest-high+), Threes is one of the more quality waves in the region, with almondy barrels when the swell gets into the head-high range. It is also noteworthy for having been featured in the classic surf film Endless Summer.

Publics: Located between Queens and the Waikiki Aquarium, Publics breaks in front of public restrooms, which is how it got its name. A bit less protected from the trades than the other waves in the area, Publics can get a bit choppy and is often far less crowded than nearby Queens and Canoes. That being said, the left-hander peels for a hundred yards, and can provide some of the longest rides in Waikiki.

Wherever you decide to go surfing in Hawaii, you will want to have all of the necessary equipment. Visit Hawaiian South Shore to pick up any gear you might need.

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City: Honolulu
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