Hailey Minton

Writer. Photographer. Explorer.

January 24, 2018 · 3 min read

Longboard surfing at Kahana Bay

It doesn't always break...but when it does!

So many times I am paddling to the lineup and I see someone catch a wave. The feeling they have (judging by the huge grin on their face) is contagious. I feel like I’m right there with them, stoked they caught a wave! Surfing at Kahana Bay is a happy and non competitive atmosphere.

Kahana bay is the longboarder’s dream. 

I have talked to multiple people who have claimed to be on a wave for over a minute. Personally, I lose my sense of time while I’m out there. But it’s true, it’s possible to catch a wave from the mouth of the bay and ride it all the way to the beach. The surfable area is larger than most other breaks so you don’t have to worry so much about fighting for a wave. The shoulder high waves are ideal for intermediate learners, hydrofoil surfers, or classic longboard lovers. The more experienced surfers tend to paddle out further into the bay to catch the waves when they initially break. Intermediate learners usually position themselves even with the boat ramp.


A hydrofoil surfer passing the boat ramp.

A surfer catching a wave all the way to the shore.


Kahana surf is elusive, it only breaks when there is a northeast swell.

Most days when I drive past the bay it is glassy smooth like a lake. If you drive past and see it breaking, know it won’t last for more than a few days.  Active Oahu Tours does daily rentals for surfboards if you need one. Be aware, the water can be murky especially after heavy rainfall. A river drains into the bay from the Kahana valley, and the water is clearer further out in the bay.

The last time I surfed at this location, there were about three other surfers when I first paddled out. Time went on and more people showed up as it got closer to quitting time.  An hour and a half later, I was exhausted but I kept telling myself, “I’ll ride the next wave in.” That next wave came but I found myself paddling back out telling myself the same thing.


Where to park and launch

Most surfers launch from the boat ramp to get to the surf break. This cuts down the paddle time a little. There is plenty of parking here and there is a bathroom, and shower as well.



If you are a first time surfer

If you are wondering where to go to surf for your first time I would highly recommend Surf HNL surf school if you’re staying in Honolulu or Waikiki. There are surf lessons available near the North Shore if you are staying at Turtle Bay or in Laie. Active Oahu can rent out surfboards for the day but I would highly recommend you have at least a couple surf lessons and a couple independent surf sessions under your belt before attempting to surf at Kahana. Castle’s beach at the Malekahana beach park is a good place for beginners to get a some experience before venturing out to Kahana.

Photos of Surf HNL surf school