Surfing and Hawaii go hand in hand like pancakes and maple syrup. This island sport, glamorized by movies and television, was first described to the outside world by European explorers in 1778. Although deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture, the sport was banned for religious reasons when missionaries arrived on the islands in 1821. At the start of the 20th century, Hawaiians near Waikiki began reviving the practice. Surfing gradually gained popularity around the world, peaking in the mid 20th century with the introduction of surf music and movies. Contemporary visitors to the islands will find myriad ways to experience this sport.
First, identify your skill level. If you have never done any surfing, or it has been a long time since you hit the waves, consider yourself a beginner. If you surf regularly, consider yourself an experienced surfer.
Next, choose your destination. Beginners will want to stick to relatively easy surf beaches like Waikiki on Oahu and spend plenty of time with an instructor before hitting the waves. More experienced surfers may choose to hit the island's north shore with its swells, or even the rough surf of the Big Island of Hawaii. Whatever your destination, give yourself a day or two to ease into "island time" and become acclimated to the area.
Book your accommodations. Hotels are limited on the north shore, but plentiful near the beaches in Waikiki and the Big Island. With 100 or so hotels in the downtown and Waikiki areas, visitors to Oahu will find plenty of options to fit their style and budget. Many hotels are within walking distance of Waikiki Beach and other area attractions. For most visitors, Waikiki will offer everything they need to enjoy a surf vacation on Oahu. If you have your heart set on tackling the north shore waves, try the Turtle Bay Resort. Most hotels on the Big Island are situated on a swimming or surfing beach. Winter and summer are the prime surf seasons in Hawaii, so try to book your trip accordingly.
Finally, book your lessons. Lessons can be booked online with several surf schools, through the concierge at your hotel, or right on the beach after you arrive. Lessons include use of a surfboard. Surfboard rentals by the day are also available through area surf shops, so experienced surfers won't need to travel with their board. Beginners should check out the surf camps offered by Sunset Suzy on the north shore of Oahu or lessons offered by Surf Oahu in Waikiki.