Hawaii is known for its beautiful beaches and laid back lifestyle. While Hawaii has always been one of the world’s top destinations for surfing, the islands also host to some of the world’s best stand up paddle boarding (SUP) locations.
With so many great spots to paddle board in Hawaii, it is impossible to select only 1 or 2 to recommend – but I’ve managed to narrow it down to my top 5 spots, in no particular order. I’m also going to share some of my favorite shops to rent stand up paddle boards in Hawaii, so you can get straight to the water faster on your next trip!
If you’re looking for a place to rent a paddle board; you can do it locally (I mention a number of local shops) or you can rent it from SUP Rents which will ship paddle boards for free nation wide.
1) Ala Moana, Oahu, Hawaii
Ala Moana features a protected bay which makes it an ideal spot for both beginners first learning how to paddle board and for flat water training. If you head on to the other side of the reef you’ll find a great spot for paddle surfing. Ala Moana really offers it all.
We recommend checking out Blue Planet Surf for rentals, sales and paddle board lessons.
2) Keauhou Bay, Kona, Hawaii
Keauhou Bay is a historic site in the Kona District and birthplace of King Kamehameha III. This spot has a beautiful harbor nestled in by a coastline of dried lava beds. Not just a great SUP spot, this place is great for kayaking and snorkeling as well.
Just South of the bay there is a spot known as “End of the World” that has some beautiful sea caves and some cliffs you can jump from. However, I recommend you kayak to that spot because the water isn’t as calm and the shoreline is very rocky in that area. If you’re traveling with people who don’t want to get in the water, there is shopping nearby as well as two golf courses.
3) Kealakekua Bay, Kona, Hawaii
Another historic site in Kona, Kealakekua Bay is the home of the famous Captain Cook Monument. Since there are no paved roads to this monument, most visitors kayak or SUP their way there. I prefer the latter.
I would recommend that you plan your paddle boarding for the morning hours, because the wind picks up in the afternoon which makes the water choppy. Kealakekua Bay is the only underwater state park on the Big Island, which makes it an awesome destination for snorkeling. On most days you can see up to 100 ft down in the crystal clear water and don’t be surprised to see manta rays, spinner dolphins, green sea turtles and tons of other marine life.
4) Pua’ena Point Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii
This spot is located on the North shore of Oahu right next to Hale’iwa Beach Park. If you’d like to try surfing, this is a great spot for beginners to learn as the waves are usually pretty tame. I like this spot because most of the area is flat, but it’s also a safe area to try out paddling in small waves.
This is a local favorite spot for paddle boarding in Oahu. Pua’ena Point is a great spot to picnic and lots of families hang out here on the weekends. Now you want to be sure not to pass the vegetation barrier on the beach, because everything inland is private property. Otherwise you can go up and down the shoreline as you please, since the beaches are all public property.
5) “Pops” or Populars in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
Pops is a Waikiki break and is a great spot if you want to experience paddling in waves. It’s bumpy enough to give you a challenge (unless you’re already an expert), but not so difficult you can’t have fun. I like it because it is less crowded than the other areas of Waikiki.
There are some sharp reef edges in this spot, so you might consider wearing a pair of SUP booties. There are plenty of other great spots for paddle boarding in the Waikiki neighborhood to explore as well.
6) Sunset Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
Sunset beach is on the North shore of Oahu. During the winter, Sunset Beach is known for its big wave surfing. They host some of the most popular surfing competitions in the world.
However, during the summer the water is much calmer and is great for paddle boarding! It’s so calm, in fact, that you can paddle all the way to Waimea Bay from Sunset Beach – which is a 4 mile journey. The coral formations also make this a great place to hop off your board and go for a swim and snorkel if you so choose.
SUP Boards in Hawaii
There are so many great places to rent paddle boards in Hawaii, so I’ll just mention the places I have been happy with.
For paddle board rentals in the Waikiki area you want to check out Quality Surfboards Hawaii on the North end of the beach or Big Wave Dave Surf Co on the South end.
For paddle board rentals near Sunset Beach in Oahu, go to Waimea Bay Beach Park and they’ll have everything you need. On the North shore of Oahu where Pua’ena Point is located you should check out Sunset Suratt Surf School.
For paddle board rentals at Keauhou Bay in Kona, go to Ocean Safaris Kayak Adventures and they’ll take care of you. To get a SUP rental for Kealakekua Bay in Kona, go to Kona Boys. They aren’t right near the beach, but they are the closest and the shop is run by good people.
That should be everything you needed to get started paddle boarding in Hawaii. I know you’re going to have a blast!