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Water Sports on the Big Island of Hawaii

For most residents, island life is synonymous with an active lifestyle. It seems the motivation to lead an active life is much easier when you have all the resources of Hawaii and the outdoors at your beck and call. It is rare that you go more than a mile without seeing surfboards perched on jeeps or hearing about someone’s next planned adventure. The schools, locations, and communities around water sports make it very easy to get involved, and we’ve provided some resources on common and uncommon water sports of Hawaii.

1. Surfing

A trip to Hawaii normally has visitors and locals discussing the local swells and surf breaks. Inquire around the Big Island, and one of the locals will likely send you to their favorite corner of the Big Island with the promise of pristine curls. The tradition of surfing is kept close to the heart of many locals.  And for visitors, it is important to show respect to others and the local surf they share. And if you’re new to surfing, we highly recommend Kahaluu Surf and Sea for a 2 hour class in Kona.

surfing on the big island

Check out a couple of spots to catch a wave on the Big Island below for all skill levels.

Kahalu’u Bay

Easily one of the more popular spots for surfing on the Big Island. What makes this spot great is there are multiple surf breaks for surfers of all skill levels. The more advanced surfers keep to the outside breaking waves. A bonus to Kahalu’u Bay is the incredible reefs and snorkeling available close to shore.

Pine Trees

Another great beginner to intermediate spot. This spot can fill up, so ensuring to be respectful of others and careful on the water is a must. You can also perch under the heliotrope and hau trees as you watch the surfers charge from the shoreline. Pine Trees is located at Kohanaiki Beach Park, and camping is permitted Thursday through Monday. Camping permits are available online.

2. Free Diving

Freediving is a sport that has gained notoriety in recent years for the serene and meditative videos and photos being posted around the internet. The sport of freediving involves diving with just a snorkel and fins and holding one’s breath underwater for extended periods of time. With its numerous reefs and vibrant wildlife, it is no surprise that Hawaii boasts some of the most famous free divers in the world.

Kauai-native Daniel Koval is a Kona-based freediving instructor who set a U.S. freediving record of 335 feet in the constant weight division, meaning divers can’t pull on guide ropes or use weights to assist in their descent.

diving in the ocean big island

Freediving is a growing sport, and Hawaii seems to be at the center of it all. Numerous annual competitions take place in Hawaii, such as the Kona Depth Challenge and classes and workshops are held at Kona Freedivers.

3. Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Another staple of Hawaiian watersports is stand-up paddleboarding, a great way to enjoy time on the water while taking in some views of the wildlife and surroundings. The clear water makes for an awesome view as you peer into the lively world at your feet. As a workout, it is an awesome way to improve balance and joint strength. The waves of the ocean rhythmically rock the board and force the boarder to engage the core, legs, and stabilizing muscles and joints.

big island stand up paddle boarding

A couple of the good locations are listed below.

Makaiwa Bay

The calm waters of this sheltered bay make for great stand-up paddleboarding conditions. There are plenty of places to rent paddleboards nearby; we recommend going through the Sea Adventures Beach Center, where you can rent boards by the hour. The waters in this sheltered bay make it a great spot for beginners who aren’t ready to venture out into more active waters. These calm conditions also make it a great spot for the ambitious to try paddleboard yoga from a local instructor on the bay.

Makaiwa Bay big island

Kahalu’u Bay

Another pristine snorkel and surf spot. This is a great location that offers many options for people of all skill levels. It is also one of the best spots to learn because of the resources available via the Kahalu’u Surf and Sea School. They offer beginner and intermediate lessons and have a range of boards ready for basic and lighter, faster models.

Kahalu’u Bay surfing

Let’s Talk

Please give me a call at 808.938.3910 or email me if you are interested in learning more about water sports or anything about life on the Big Island of Hawaii.

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