Seasonal Surf Trends

How did the surf get so big?!
Average surf heights
Hawaii has seasons?

Instead of dramatic temperature changes, seasons in Hawaii bring drastic changes in ocean conditions. Ocean waves are created by wind. The strength and duration of wind over the ocean dictates the size of the waves that arrive along our coastline. The ocean is a dynamic creature that not only changes by the season, but by the hour. So many variables like ocean typography, tides, and local winds effect how these swells unfold at each beach. Knowing seasonal patterns can help you plan your visit, but with conditions constantly varying- check the ocean report for the daily update and always consult a lifeguard before you jump in!


Summer brings large waves predominately to the south side. Winter storms in the Southern Hemisphere generate swells that create breaking waves on south facing shores. Trade winds (northeast) and passing trade showers are typical summer weather.

  • North - usually flat to small waves except for areas exposed to trade wind waves
  • East - surf can get large and rough with strong trade winds
  • South - large south swells arrive frequently
  • West - south swells wrap around to the west side and can create high surf

Huge, powerful swells pound the North and West facing shores. Storms originating in the Aleutians that dump snow on the Rockies, cause freezes in the Midwest and wreak havoc on the Eastern seaboard are the same storms that create gargantuan surf on Hawaii's northern and western shores. The waves generated from these powerful storms are extremely dangerous and unpredictable. Never underestimate the power of the ocean. Winter weather brings more variable winds and increases chances of encountering longer spells of rain.

  • North - huge, dangerous swells consistently
  • East - surf can get large and rough with strong trade winds
  • South - usually flat to small surf during winter, can be sunny even if it is raining up north
  • West - north swells wrap to the west side creating high surf, your best bet for sun and dry weather
Comments (164 comments)   View all comments   

todd | Jun 25, 2007 10:46AM

the shore surf graph is messed up
the shore designations on the top are shoved over to the right for some reason.
could you fix this?

Kauai Explorer Staff | Jun 25, 2007 12:09PM

For best viewing of our site please use the free Firefox browser. While we try to make the site display properly across most computers, the site will have problems on screens smaller than 800X600 [...] view more

Maston | Dec 24, 2007 7:25AM

Is there any surfing on the south shore during the winter?

Kauai Explorer Staff | Dec 24, 2007 2:04PM

Not much Matson.

Kim | Jan 04, 2008 1:23PM

We're coming to Kauai next week and were wondering where the best surf spots are.

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