The moon is fat and golden like a hot malasada, and glow sticks dot the black Pacific like rainbow sprinkles. There's a full moon in Waikiki, and the resourceful surfer is bee-lining past bars and ABC Stores to one of the most coveted surf breaks in the world.
Learning how to surf is a challenge wherever you try it, but especially off the shores of Waikiki. Most beginners are too intimidated to step foot into these waters for fear of flying boards and aggressive locals. But once the sun dips down behind the Waianae coast, the Queens and Canoes surf breaks take on a calmer character.
When the moon is full and the sky is clear, you can see straight to the bottom of the sandy sea floor. Stars still light the sky amid the city lights, and reggae from beachside bars wafts across the water. You can probably count the number of surfers on two hands, which, in my experience, is just enough to make you feel comfortable being out at night.
The waves at these two breaks are so good, they're fit for royalty - Queen Liliuokalani was reported to have surfed here regularly in the 19th century. Thus, the easternmost break was named "Queens" after her. These waves are gentle, long, and consistent. And thanks to Diamond Head, wind is rarely an impeding factor.
But catching waves is only half the point of paddling out. Sitting atop your board and watching the encompassing night is the other half. Bar-hoppers look like ants. Neon lights blur together. A boat twinkles on the horizon. Diamond Head appears sheer and bluish under the moon. A dark wave rises behind you, and suddenly you are pushed up, on to the crest. You are riding your very own wave in Waikiki, of all places.
How to get to the Waikiki surf breaks at Kuhio Beach Park:
From Kapahulu heading south towards the ocean, turn right into the Honolulu Zoo parking lot and park. From there, walk straight to the oceanfront street, Kalakaua. Turn right. Go straight to Kuhio Beach Park on the left, and enter the water between Liliuokalani Avenue and Uluniu Avenue. From Kalakaua heading east on foot, walk past the Moana Surfrider Hotel and turn right at the police station into Kuhio Beach Park. Get in the water here.
A note on night surfing:
If you've never tried surfing, then you should go during the day a few times before attempting it at night. It is always recommended to familiarize yourself with the surf break during the day before attempting it at night, too. I've never heard of anyone getting hurt surfing in Waikiki at night, but it is always safest to go with a buddy. And for the ladies: you're just as safe here as the men!