Can You Surf at Mauna Kea Beach?

Carpeted with soft white sand and lapped by gentle waves, Mauna Kea Beach (also known as Kauna'oa Beach) is a picture of tropical paradise. However, for surfers seeking epic swells and challenging rides, this Big Island beach might not be the first choice. That doesn't mean surfers can't catch some waves here! Let's explore the surfing conditions at Mauna Kea Beach and discover if it might be a suitable spot for your next surfing adventure.


Surfing, riding a wave across the ocean's surface, embodies freedom, exhilaration, and a deep connection with nature, but for those considering taking the plunge you’re probably wondering, is surfing hard to learn? Here's what makes it challenging, but also so rewarding:

  • Balance and Coordination: Balancing on a moving surfboard while paddling, popping up, and maneuvering requires core strength, coordination, and a good sense of balance.
  • Ocean Dynamics: Waves are unpredictable and ever-changing. Reading the ocean, understanding currents, and navigating different wave types present a continuous learning curve.
  • Physical Fitness: Surfing requires paddling, maneuvering, and sometimes battling strong currents. 
  • Mental Toughness: Falling off the board is an inevitable part of the learning process. Persistence, resilience, and a positive attitude are crucial for overcoming frustration.

Surfing allows you to experience the power and beauty of the ocean in a truly immersive way. Surfing is undoubtedly challenging, but with dedication, the right instruction, and a positive attitude, it's absolutely achievable. The rewards,  the connection with nature, the thrill of the ride, and the sense of accomplishment all make the learning process worthwhile.


Mauna Kea Beach is renowned for its calm and clear waters, making it a favorite spot for families and relaxation. The surf here at this beautiful beach typically consists of:

  • Smaller Waves: Expect gentle rolling waves, ideal for beginner surfers or those seeking a more relaxed surfing experience.
  • Sandy Bottom: The absence of sharp coral reefs means a softer landing if you wipe out.
  • Limited Crowds: Compared to other surf spots on the Big Island, Mauna Kea Beach tends to be less crowded, offering more space to practice your skills.

With its calm shores and gentle breaks, Mauna Kea Beach is fantastic for beginner surfers. If you're an experienced surfer yearning for powerful waves and challenging maneuvers, Mauna Kea Beach might not be the ideal spot. Here are some alternative Big Island locations to consider for more thrilling rides:

  • Hapuna Beach State Park: Located north of Mauna Kea Beach, Hapuna Beach offers consistent waves that are suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers.
  • Hilo Bay: This eastern bay provides a variety of breaks, from gentle rollers to powerful waves depending on the time of year. Research conditions carefully before heading out.
  • White Sands Beach: The west coast of the Big Island offers experienced surfers a chance to conquer powerful waves at White Sands Beach. However, strong currents and challenging conditions require caution and expertise.

Even if the waves aren't ideal for hardcore surfing, Mauna Kea Beach offers a plethora of other activities to enjoy. The calm waters are suitable for exploring the coastline on a stand-up paddleboard or kayak. The gentle waves and sandy beach create a perfect environment for a refreshing swim, and snorkeling the clear waters will reveal a vibrant underwater world teeming with colorful fish. It’s a great place to relax on the soft sand, soak up the Hawaiian sun, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

While Mauna Kea Beach might not be a surfer's paradise for those seeking challenging waves, it offers a fantastic alternative for those who want a calmer surfing experience or a relaxing beach day. With its gentle waves, beautiful scenery, and variety of other activities, Mauna Kea Beach can be a perfect spot to unwind and enjoy the Aloha spirit. Check out our Vacation Rentals in Hapuna Bay. Call us at 888.598.6353 or email for help planning your next beach resort trip.