Molokai is mostly made up of fierce cliffs and lava rock outcrops. So, despite over 100 miles of coastline, there are less than a dozen viable surf spots on Molokai. Luckily, these are incredibly diverse and can accommodate foreign first-timers, passionate semi-pros, and local veterans. If you are visiting Molokai primarily for surfing, we recommend staying near the west coast of the island, as 75% of the surf spots are located there.
While from a technical perspective, Oahu’s surf spots are likely superior, Molokai’s surf locations are more idyllic, and you may spot seals and whales during your surf adventure.
Why Surf on Molokai?
- Stunning unspoiled nature with plenty of monks seals keeping you company
- No shortage of parking spots, unlike Oahu or Maui
- You rarely have to compete for the same waves with other surfers
- A healthy variety of beginner-friendly, intermediate, and daring pro-only surf spots
Best Surf Spots for Beginners
If you are a beginner, we recommend steering clear of the more challenging spots. Remember that you are on a remote island with no lifeguards on duty. In addition, these spots will also be more fun, as trying to conquer meter-high barrels as a beginner is frustrating and pointless: The following spots are suitable for newcomers:
- Dixie Maru (West Molokai)
- Waialua Beach (East Molokai)
- Kaunalā Beach on calm days (West Molokai)
Surf Map for Molokai
The following map shows you all the best surf spots on Molokai. Green spots mark beginner-friendly locations, while blue spots represent intermediate difficulty. Red spots are rather challenging, and require top-notch surfing skills, physical fitness or both.
Surf spots in West Molokai
West Molokai is where most of the action’s at – especially in the winter. These are the same swells that continue to Oahu. However, on West Molokai, you will likely not have to compete for the same breaks with a swarm of surfers. Most of the surf spots in the West are rather challenging, and the conditions can change within minutes.
Kepuhi Beach is situated at the end of Kaluakoi Road. It is a crowded, rocky beach that boasts some huge waves, making it perhaps the most popular surf spot on Molokai amongst locals. We highly recommend this spot if you’re a skilled and physically fit surfer. To get to the surf spot, simply head towards the defunct Sheraton’s resort on the Beach front and then paddle out from there. Beware of shallow rocks hiding beneath the surface. On windy days, the waves can be up to 10 feet high. It is also a fantastic spot to surf in the evening. Catch your last wave as the sun sets, and then head into town for a cold, refreshing Longboard. There is also a good chance you will surf alongside monk seals that venture on shore to take naps during the afternoon!
Dixie Maru (Kapukahehu Beach)
Dixie Maru is an idyllic spot that is a short drive away from the aforementioned Kepuhi Beach, with waves around half the size. On most days, the surf break on the left side is a fantastic spot to have your first surfing lessons. On other days, there may be no break at all, so always check the surf conditions online before heading out there. The capacity of Dixie Maru is also slightly limited and can only accommodate a handful of surfers. Also beware, that the parking lot only accommodates a few cars. In addition, you may have to dodge the occasional snorkeler, which may be frustrating, especially as a beginner. While surfing, you may spot some humpback whales in the distance. On our trip there, we saw over a dozen of them!
To the left of Dixie Maru, you can hike on the trail that is surrounded by the kiawe trees (those annoying invasive trees with 4 inch thorns).
Kaunalā Beach is ideal if Dixie Maruis:
- too crowded,
- too easy for you,
- or doesn’t have any waves that day.
The break at Kaunalā Beach is slightly more difficult as you have to enter from the rocks.
Halena Beach is located in the southwest of Molokai and is a reliable surfing destination all year round. However, in the winter, this spot is considered pro only, as the winds will be fierce. On the upside, it is one of the most secluded spots, and you will likely be surfing by yourself. The neighboring beaches feature equally adventurous breaks. There is ample parking, but you may need a motorbike or a 4WD car to drive on the dirt road all the way to the shore. If you run into trouble, it will take a while to get rescued!
This spot is located within the Moomomi Preserve and can only be reached via a 6-mile hike, a 4WD vehicle, or speed boat. You will enter the surf from the coves. This is a reef break that is relatively consistent and is recommended when there’s offshore wind from the southeast. There are both right and left breaks available, and you will most likely be surfing alone. Watch out for rip currents. Sharks have also been spotted in this area, but no shark attacks have ever been recorded.
Surf spots in East Molokai
The options in the east are severely limited. We only found 2 spots that are worthwhile, one for beginners and one that is reserved for advanced surfers only.
If you’re a tourist currently, booked accommodation in East Molokai, and want to try your hands at surfing, Waialua Beach is the closest option. On most days, the breaks are around one to two feet high, which is the ideal height for first-timers. We recommend coming here at high tide. The spot can be very shallow on low tide, meaning it will hurt even more if you fall on your butt!
Halawa Beach is incredibly popular with advanced surfers during winter, as the barrels can reach several feet. During the summer, the beach is not frequented by surfers, but becomes more popular with swimmers. The beach provides good amenities, such as toilets, showers, a picnic area, and spacious parking. It is believed that the old Molokai chiefs used to enjoy surfing on this beach. We don’t know whether that’s true.
Kaunakakai aka. The Wharf
Kaunakakai Harbor is located on the south coast of central Molokai. The best time to surf here is in the summer months. This spot is typically only frequented by skilled local surfers, as paddling out is incredibly challenging due to the fringing reef. If you are physically fit enough to get beyond the reef, you will get to enjoy the best summer wave in Molokai.