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Courts, directly in front of the Ala Moana tennis courts, is perfect for beginner surfers

Nov 18, 2015

6 South Shore Swells: A Surfer's Paradise

As a surfer, it's easy to fall in love with the plethora of world-class waves that skirt Ala Moana Beach Park.

Located directly across from Ward Village, The Beach Park, as it's commonly known, hosts more than a dozen lineups that range from playful to perfect. Whether you're looking to test your mettle in the throaty tubes at Bowls, or simply searching for a mellow session at Courts, you'll find it at Ala Moana Beach Park. To make your first session seamless, we've taken the liberty of breaking down a handful of the most consistent breaks that line the reefs of Ala Moana.


Quite possibly one of the most consistent waves in Honolulu, Kewalos is located adjacent to the Kewalo Harbor mouth and serves up a predominantly left-hand peak that runs directly into a channel. The wave itself varies greatly depending on the swell, but is well suited for a range of surfers. The left will typically stand up on the outside before reforming again as it approaches the shoreline. Take note, however, that the lineup at Kewalos has become home to some of the most talented young surfers in the state, which can often make it hard to get a wave to yourself.

Parking can often be found at the Kewalo Harbor. To make your way into the lineup, walk along the small jetty that stands adjacent to the harbor mouth. From there, carefully wade into (or jump if you're feeling confident and the tide is high) into the water and paddle directly out to the other surfers. To get back to shore, you'll need to deftly climb back up the jetty or rock break wall.

Experience Level: Moderate to Advanced

Big Rights

Located on the Diamond Head side of Kewalos, Big Rights is one of the most perfect waves in Town when conditions align. As the name suggests, the wave is a right and only begins to bear fruit when the swells reach 4 feet. The wave is steep and can quickly manifest a heaving barrel that empties into a small channel, making it a popular lineup for shortboarders and more experienced surfers.

The Beach Park offers plenty of parking. To paddle into the lineup, you'll need to first make your way through the lagoon. At a higher tide, it's possible to paddle directly out to the wave by simply going over the reef. On a lower tide, you'll be forced to nimbly walk along the sandy/soft reef bottom until it's deep enough to jump back on your board. Fear not, it's easier than it looks.

Experience Level: Moderate to Advanced


On the opposite side of the channel from Big Rights, you'll find Concessions, which is located almost directly out to sea from the Concession Stand at the beach park. With both a right and a left, Concessions is a go-to lineup for surfers looking for a fun, playful session that typically boasts less of a crowd than Big Rights and works best on a smaller swell.

To access the wave, you'll follow the same route that would take you to Big Rights. Once in the channel, veer to the left and you'll find yourself at Concessions.

Experience Level: Beginner to moderate


Similar in shape and form to Concessions, which sits just down the reef, Courts offers up surfers another option for both high-performance surfing and a more manageable lineup than its neighbors. When the swell is small, the wave itself isn't quite as steep at its nearby lineups, which also makes it more suited for longboarding.

To make your way into the lineup, simply paddle out directly from the tennis courts (hence the name) through the lagoon and walk / paddle over the reef depending on the tide.

Experience Level: Beginner to moderate


A bit of a wildcard lineup, Bomboras only comes to life on large swells. The wave itself—which is predominantly a left, but can also muster up a right—breaks directly in front of the large crop of rocks that jut out towards the sea at Magic Island. When it comes to life, which doesn't happen often, you'll find longer rides that empty onto a very shallow reef as the wave approaches Magic Island.

Parking can be found at Magic Island. To get to the lineup, you'll need to tip-toe down the west-facing break wall and paddle directly out and to the east of the large rock barrier.

Experience Level: Moderate to Advanced


The crown jewel of the Honolulu surf scene , Ala Moana Bowls is commonly regarded as the premier wave in Town and one of the best waves in the world. While it breaks on a myriad of swells (at 2 foot with a longboard it's a dream) when the buoys strain, the wave morphs into a hollow, barreling left that's attracted surfers to its lineup for decades. Bowls' reputation for producing mouth-watering barrels has left it dense with a hungry crowd, so be prepared. That being said, it's still possible to score it with just a few souls out—if you're lucky.

Magic Island offers up plenty of parking spaces. To find the lineup, walk towards the ocean and past the grassy fields. As you approach the lagoon at Magic Island, you'll find a small enclave that leads to the Ala Wai harbor. Paddle directly out through the channel (be mindful of canoes and boats) and you'll find yourself sitting at Bowls.

Experience Level: Advanced

The Lagoon

Not feeling up to riding a shortboard or a longboard but still yearning to get a workout and immerse yourself in the sea? Grab a stand up board and take a stroll through the lagoon that acts as a barrier to the surf breaks and the nearby beach park. The water is always calm, turquoise blue, and inviting. We can't think of a finer way to end the day than a stroll through the lagoon at sunset.

Simply park at Ala Moana beach park, walk down the beach, and into the lagoon. The Beach Park offers plenty of places to shower off after your session.

Experience Level: All ages and experience

Check the surf before you head out on our surf cam here.

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