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North Shore, Oahu

If there is such a thing as a perfect wave, you’ll likely find it on Oahu’s North Shore. The big, glassy winter waves of this legendary surf mecca attract the best surfers in the world, while summer waves are far smaller and more gentle – all of which makes the North Shore the perfect surf spot for beginners and veterans alike.

Stretching for more than 7 miles, the beaches of the North Shore host the world’s premier surfing competitions during the peak, winter months, including the Super Bowl of wave riding, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (November – December). Stroll in the thick sands of Waimea Bay, Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline) and Sunset Beach — just leave the surfing to the pros.

The months between November and February are the best times to watch big wave surfing. These massive waves can sometimes swell up to thirty feet or more and can even be dangerous for experienced surfers so please heed warning signs. From May to September, the waves subside, creating a more tranquil atmosphere for surfing, swimming and sunbathing.

Roughly a one hour drive from Waikiki, the North Shore is also home to various condo rentals, the luxurious Turtle Bay Resort and Haleiwa Town, where you can shop, eat like a local and cool off with rainbow flavored shave ice. You can continue your drive to Laie with the Polynesian Cultural Center and the old plantation town of Kahuku to end your day on the North Shore.

North Shore, Oahu Highlights:

Haleiwa, Oahu
This historic surf town is the gateway to the legendary North Shore.
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Waimea Bay, Oahu
Waimea Bay is a legendary surf spot influential in the birth of big wave surfing.

Banzai Pipeline

Banzai Pipeline, Oahu

Located on Oahu’s North Shore, Banzai Pipeline (view panorama) is a popular surf site where waves can reach heights of 20+ feet (6+ m) in the winter months (November to February).Many big wave surfing contests take place here, and people from all over the world – professional surfers as well as spectators and photographers – come here to see the waves.

The Pipeline was named in 1961 by a California surfing movie producer, Bruce Brown. He visited Oahu’s North Shore and was scouting possible movie locations together with two California surfers, Mike Diffenderfer and Phil Edwards. They stopped at this yet unnamed surf site and Brown filmed the surfers catching several waves. They all agreed that the surf site needed a name.

On the same day, a construction project on the highway next to the beach (Kamehameha Highway) was going on. An underground pipeline needed to be fixed. Diffenderfer suggested they name this surf spot “the Pipeline.” In 1961, Brown made this name popular in his new movie Surfing Hollow Days. At that time, the beach fronting the surf site was called Banzai Beach. But today, it is better known as Banzai Pipeline