Guide to Water Sports in Hawaii

By Andy Beth Miller

Cumulus-Oahu-North-Shore-Surfer

When your chosen vacation destination is a tropical island, surrounded on all sides by the blue azure waters of the Pacific Ocean, it just makes sense that the locale’s water sports offerings will abound. Such is the case in Hawaii, with the aloha state having some of the most spectacular ocean activities around. Read on to discover just what each island boasts as its best water sport options.

Oahu Water Sports

If you’re visiting Oahu and surfing is your schtick, the world famous North Shore, home to the Seven Mile Miracle Stretch and nicknamed spots like Pipeline and Backdoor, Off the Wall, Log Cabins, Sunset and Waimea Bay has your name written all over it. The Windward side of the is-land (Kailua Beach, especially) is a particularly ideal launching site for kayaking, with its sandy beaches and less consistent waves than the majority of Hawaii, as are the calmer waters of nearby Kaneohe Bay. Water sports also popular in Kailua are kiteboarding, kitesurfing, parasailing and standup paddling. Oahu’s Hanauma Bay and the North Shore’s Sharks Cove offer pristine snorkeling, while the South Shores of Oahu practically shout, “Scuba!”

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Maui Water Sports

More water sports can be enjoyed on Maui, with the island being not only famous for its surfing spots like Honolua Bay, Jaws, Hoʻokipa, Olowalu, and more, but also for windsurfing as well (Hoʻokipa near Paʻia beckons pros, while the safer waters off Kihei or Lahaina call beginners). Snorkeling and scuba conditions are spectacular when visiting Maui’s hot spots like Molokini Crater, Five Caves, Coral Gardens or aptly named Turtle Town. Kayaking conditions on Maui are best at Hanakoʻo Beach Park (also known as Canoe Beach), Honolua Bay, Makena Beach, Molokini Crater, and Kapalua Bay. New to Standup Paddleboarding (SUP)? Maui happens to be the perfect place to test the waters, especially in the protected haven of Kalama Beach Park in Kihei.

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Kauai Water Sports

The water sports fun keeps coming on Kauai, with surfing spots like Kuhio Shores to the south and Hanalei Bay to the north leading the most beloved locales. Snorkeling is a sure win with stops at Anini Beach, Ke’e Beach, Tunnels Beach (for more experienced snorkelers and scuba divers), Poʻipu Beach and more. And speaking of Anini Beach and Tunnels, these hot spots are considered prime destination for windsurfing as well. Keen on kayaking? Take a trip to Olowalu Reef for a wonderful day on the water. Keep in mind that big surf rolls in to Kauai’s north shore during the winter, making waters too rough for most water sports. The south shore, however, remains fair throughout the year.

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Big Island Water Sports

Big Island, while not known for its surfing, still offers fantastic snorkeling and scuba options, especially when cruising through the waters off the shores of Kona, with its reefs that fringe the shore-line, making getting to a snorkel/dive site quick and easy.

As you enjoy Hawaii’s deep blue sea, don’t forget to exercise caution and when all else fails, ask any friendly island local for the inside water sports scoop!

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