Surfing Oahu – Kaisers Surf Break

Aloha, and welcome to the first in my series of reviews on killah and fun surf breaks on Oahu, Hawaii. A majority of them are going to be breaks in Waikiki because those surf breaks are (a) Located where a majority of tourists, beginner surfers, and surfboard rental spots are situated (b) Breaks that I’m more familiar with and easier to find based on landmarks (c) Generally, more friendly to non-locals (#haoles) and have less of an agro/antagonistic quality and (d) I have control of this keyboard and blog and YOU WILL LISTEN TO EVERYTHING I HAVE TO SAY!!! 😛

My first review will be a pretty popular break for locals, but it’s definitely not a beginner break: Kaisers Surf Break. The reason for it’s popularity is pretty self-explanatory: When the rest of Waikiki may be 0-1’ or flat, Kaisers is almost always always consistently going off with at least moderately surfable breaks in the waist-high to shoulder-high region. The problem is that it’s also a pretty narrow break, usually filled with a lot of locals on busy weekend days and big swell days, and you really have to know what you are doing and how the wave breaks to not get your ass handed to you by the waves, the reef, or a really pissed-off local who realizes you are a beginner or tourist (See my previous hashtag).

One other thing to note, Kaisers is not a great place to learn how to surf unless you are only sticking to the inside-break (the break that starts just past and next to the green “3” pole in the water). If you try to go to the outside break to learn, you will get crushed and completely run over, and could easily get hurt. I’ve taught a bunch of people how to surf here, and actually will see lots of surf schools take kids and first-time surfers here, but they always stick to the very inside break and out of the way of the main outside wave set.

Also keep in mind that Kaisers can be a very shallow and reefy break, right up their with Tongs and Publics surf break, so it is usually a good idea to check your tide charts and try to go surfing at a time when it’s more high tide. Especially if you are prone to falling off or eating it on your surfboard, and especially if you would prefer not to have your chest/back/hands/feet/etc. look as if it were sandpapered by the reef. (NOTE: High tide time always changes, it doesn’t have anything to do with the time of the day)

In order to find Kaisers, the easiest way is to either start at Fort DeRussy beach and to paddle Leeward/west towards the numbered poles in the water or start near the Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon and paddle Diamondhead/east towards the numbered poles in the water. If you’re in decent shape, you should be able to paddle out there in about 10-15 minutes, probably less if you are faster, have a longer surfboard, or are coming from the Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon side. Once you get out there, you will have an excellent view of Diamondhead to the east, Kaka’ako and Kewalo Basin to the west, and the Hilton Hawaiian village and Derussy Beach to the mauka/mountain side.

The best way to approach Kaisers is just next to the green “3” pole, NOT in between the red “4” and green “3” pole, since that’s the channel for boats to come through. This is the easiest way to start off at the inside break at Kaisers and the best way to reach the outside break at Kaisers without getting in the way of the lineup. Once you get into the lineup, respect the rules of the ocean: Wait your turn in the lineup, never drop in on somebody, and never have your back to the waves. As soon as you take your wave, get out of the way and circle back into the lineup from the outer edges. Hopefully, I don’t have to teach you this stuff!

Kaisers can be a pretty narrow and pretty crowded break, especially if it’s a big swell day or nothing much else is breaking in town or Waikiki. Unlike most of the other breaks in Waikiki, the waves here can build and break fairly quickly. They never break in between the poles, and tend to break to the left (when you are facing the shore). Wherever you are in the lineup, you should probably try to break left as well and take your ride to the left, IF and only if it’s your wave. Almost everyone else will be breaking left in general, so if you try to break right from the outside of the wave, somebody is gonna get hurt and you could cause a collision and/or get your ass handed to you by a local. Be careful, don’t be stupid, and realize this is one of the harder breaks in Waikiki.

That being said, it can be a pretty fun and long break to ride on. As you can see from some of my videos, you can get a long ride of almost a minute or more! The only other place in Waikiki that has as long rides and is super consistent is the surf break at Pops and Paradise and maybe Queens. But those breaks are mainly going off when the surf gets bigger in the 3’ and above region. Kaisers is fairly consistent almost every day, unless it’s totally flat in Waikiki. Also keep in mind that if you break too far to the left on a long ride, you are going to be riding over some fairly shallow reef at the end, especially if you are near to low tide. If you see the rock wall/jetty protecting the Hawaiian Hilton lagoon area in front of you, you are probably too close to shallow reef, and should readjust your position.

One tip is to actually just stay away from the main Kaisers surf break and surf at the area known as In-Betweens surf break, which is just Leeward/west of the main Kaisers surf break by about 150 feet. It’s not as consistently breaking at Kaisers, but you almost always have it to yourself, you’ll never have to fight the waves or paddle against other agro surfers, and you can get just as long a ride as Kaisers. But again, try to break left in general here, otherwise you will run into some aggressive guys (and girls) pulling some fast switchbacks on their shortboards if you go right. You could get a surfboard tip to the head or some choice swear words thrown your way at least if you’re not careful.

Kaisers surf break is mainly the territory of shortboarders and some funboarders. You’ll see lots of people with their smaller <6’ performance boards surfing pretty aggressively here, and you do not want to get in their way or ruin their ride. There are a few longboarders, but very few SUP/Stand-Up Paddleboarders since it’s just too narrow a break and closes out pretty fast. If you feel more in the beginner territory, stick to the inside break at Kaisers or at the most stay to In-Betweens. Remember: When in doubt, don’t go out (side set)! But that being said, Kaisers is one of my favorite surf breaks in town. As a bonus, I tend to see sea turtles surfing alongside me about 33% of the time I go out to Kaisers. The only other place, I’ve seen as many is at Pops and Paradise on a good day.

Until next time, this is The Traveling Bachelor, saying “CHEE-HOO!!!”


Overall Surf Break Rating: 4.5 Coconuts (1 Coconut = Lame, Brah! <=> 5 Coconuts = CHEE-HOO!!!)

Difficulty Rating: 3.5 Coconuts

Agro Attitude Rating: 3 Coconuts

Wave Reliability Rating: 5 Coconuts

Best For: Early intermediate and above surfers; Shortboarders, funboarders, bodyboarders

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