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Surfing on Kauai's insider take:

Although Oahu's north shore is the undisputed epicenter of Hawaiian surf culture, insiders will tell you that some of the best surf—for intermediate and advanced riders—is on Kauai's wild west side at Waimea State Park or Polihale Beach. Newbies should opt for the mellower south side of the island. The Margo Oberg Surf School, run by a seven-time world champion, has been teaching novices since the 1970s and has enthusiastic teachers who guarantee you'll get up on your board. Classes are held three to four times per day; it's best to sign up at least two days in advance (Poipu Beach, Koloa; 808-332-6100; If surfing seems intimidating, you might want to try your foot at paddle surfing—balancing on an oversize surfboard while propelling yourself with a single paddle, similar to kayaking. It's all the rage now because it has a much quicker learning curve than traditional surfing: You'll not only stand up on your first day, but if you're in reasonable shape, you can expect to master it within an hour. Paddle surfing is much easier if the ocean is flat and gets more challenging when you attempt to catch waves. To get started, take a lesson with Hawaiian Surfing Adventures in Hanalei Bay (808-482-0749;

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.