Summer on Oahu brings two things to south shores: lots of surf and lots of surfers. This is the time of the year when storms in the Southern Hemisphere send swells up to the Hawaiian Islands, landing on southern coastlines. And it’s also the peak season for visitors to the state, not to mention when kids are out on summer vacation.
So, it’s easy to see why surf breaks along south shores are packed during the warmer months. If you want to avoid the hordes in the water, here are five little-known surf breaks around the island that aren’t too hectic:
This surf break fronting the Sheraton Waikiki requires a paddle, but getting away from the crowded spots closer to shore — namely, Canoes and Queen’s Surf — is worth the effort. Paradise is the neighbor to the more well-known break aptly named Populars (or Pops), which has a nice long right-facing wave with a hollow inside section. While the walls aren’t as long as Pops, the lack of people and its easy-to-ride waves make this a great alternative to the busier areas.
Parking: Most surfers park at the Honolulu Zoo or Kapiolani Park. Walk to Kuhio Beach and paddle out from there.
Goat Island, Malaekahana
Off of Malaekahana State Park en route to Kahuku on Oahu’s eastern coastline, this break is great for both shortboarders and longboarders. Since it’s on the island’s east side, this break catches swells with a more easterly push, which usually happens in the winter months. But small bumps in the summertime make this a fun place to catch waves without the frenzy of North Shore breaks.
Parking: Leave your car at the beach park, where there are showers and restrooms, and paddle from there toward Goat Island, which is located offshore from the beach. The break is to the right of the island.
Tonggs, near Diamond Head
A great spot for both beginners and veteran surfers, Tonggs has rolling left-facing waves (they can hollow out during south swells) with half the crowd of Waikiki breaks. It’s located off of a quiet residential neighborhood at the base of Diamond Head.
Parking: Parking in the area is tight, but it keeps the masses away. Find street parking or take one of the metered stalls at nearby Kapiolani Park. There’s a small beach-access path off of Kalakaua Avenue by Coconut Avenue.
In-Betweens, near Ala Moana
This break lives up to its name: It’s in between Rockpiles and Ala Moana Bowls, two very popular breaks near Ala Moana Beach Park and right outside of Waikiki. In-Betweens isn’t as bowl-y as Rockpiles and not nearly as frantic as Bowls. It’s great on days with small surf, but it can close out during large south swells.
Parking: There’s free but limited parking at the Ala Wai Harbor, where this break is located. Paddle out from the parking lot fronting the Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon.
White Plains, Kalaeloa
One of the most popular beaches in Central Oahu — a place where most don’t think about surf — is White Plains, a full-service beach park with equipment rentals, restrooms, showers and places for picnics. The surf here is pretty fun, too, with lots of surf breaking across this long stretch of beach. The best conditions are when there’s a south swell running and the winds are light. It might be a little more crowded than the other destinations on this list — especially when surf’s up — but everyone is usually spread out across several peaks. The best time to surf is in the early mornings, when the winds are usually light.
Parking: There’s lots of parking here, but it can get full on weekends with families and picnickers.
Photos Courtesy of iStock-rmanera and Catherine Toth