Bodysurfing at Makapu’u Beach


We call it “Hangover Sunday” and, hungover or not, my friends and I have established a water sport tradition: we wake up as early as possible on Sunday morning, drive to Makapu’u Beach, and drink a beer (or two) before jumping in the romping surf for at least a full hour of bodysurfing enjoyment.  Indeed, Makapu’u Beach is world-famous for its perfectly bodysurfable waves, but to my friend and me it means so much more.

Ask anyone in Hawaii where to go if you want to surf without a board and, unless they want you to break your neck or get scratched up on the coral reef at Oahu’s other two bodysurfing spots, Sandy’s and Point Panic, Makapu’u will top the list.

There’s a little bit of skill and, in bigger surf, equipment that must be used to avoid injury when bodysurfing. At Makapu’u, you should begin bodysurfing at the eastern edge (the more protected side) of the beach.  Start shallow enough that you can still push off the sandy bottom.  To avoid crashing into the rocks, you will want to catch the wave to your left, so get a good push off the sea floor and direct your body to the left as you stick out your left arm to direct you.  Keep kicking even after you’ve caught the wave.  On big days, rubber fins are necessities for bodysurfing.  Locals do not wear swimming goggles–ever–to bodysurf.  It’s actually considered uncool.

Surfboards are strictly prohibited during lifeguarding hours (8 am – 5 pm every day), so body and boogie boarders have the beach all to themselves for most of the day!

Get out there and have fun!

To get to Makapu’u Beach, head east on H-1 and the Kalanianaole Highway.  The beach on your right, across the street from Sea Life Park.  There is free parking all day, as well as free public bathrooms and fresh water showers.