North Shore Surf Spots
The island of Oahu is home to some of the best and most famous surf breaks in the world, many of which are located on the North Shore. There are fun waves in Oahu year round and tons of breaks to explore throughout the relatively small island. It’s probably best to get acquainted with some of the more popular breaks first though so you can get a taste of Hawaiian surf and learn the lay of the land a little bit before you go venturing off to the lesser-known breaks. You can drive across the island in about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on traffic (which can get really busy depending on the time of day). On the North Shore, AKA the 7-mile miracle, it can sometimes take 30 to 40 minutes to drive end to end. The speed limit from Hale’iwa to Turtle Bay is mostly a laidback 25 to 35 miles per hour and the area can get a lot of traffic from frequent north shore surf competitions in the winter and tourist buses making frequent stops in Hale’iwa, Sunset Beach, and the oh-so-popular shrimp trucks.
How To Get There
All of the following surf spots are located around the North shore of oahu.
Type in any of the following spots into your maps on your phone and it will bring you right to the exact location.
- HALE’IWA, OAHU (ALI’I BEACH PARK): Reef break. Punchy rights and lefts on offer. Hollow barrels if big enough. Arena for high-performance surfing.
- PUA’ENA POINT: Slabby reef out at the main peak. Very popular place for surf lessons because the white water from the set waves out back funnels into the little bay-like setup making it a great place to teach surfing. The breakers out back offer up rippable lefts and rights. If it’s a small day could serve as a good place for a progressing surfer to put their developing skills to the test.
- LANIAKEA (LANI’S): Reef break. Long lined up rights and peaky punchier lefts on offer. Lani’s is the first break you see when driving on Kam Hwy from Honolulu or Hale’iwa. Because of the quick and easy access and the fact that it’s a swell magnet, it can get quite busy at times.
- CHUNS: Reef break. The most sought-after peak is the right. Typically lots of longboards and hybrid boards dominating the lineup but still a wave where a short board could be a fun option when it’s good. There’s often a peak that breaks left without many people paying attention to it. It tends to much much shallower going left. This is a popular place for lessons since it’s definitely a mellower longboard-friendly wave.
- WAIMEA BAY: Deepwater big wave spot. Waimea Bay only breaks on big swells and is known for its open water power and size. Experts only.
OFF-THE-WALL: Patches of sand and reef. Fun Hawaiian style beach break. Works on all tides. Very punchy often hollow rights and lefts on offer. Because of the shifty peaks going both directions, the crowd can be spread out at times. Can hold double overhead plus.
- BACKDOOR: Shallow, craggy, dangerous reef. Right-hand barrel perfection breaking at Pipeline toward Off-the-wall. This is essentially surfing a right at Pipeline. Experts only.
- BANZAI PIPELINE (PIPE): Shallow, craggy, dangerous reef. The legendary perfect left-hand barrel that the entire world knows about, including non-surfers. Experts only.
- EHUKAI BEACH PARK: The little stretch of beach directly to the right of Pipeline. Patches of sand and reef. Rights and lefts on offer. Could be a good option if there is some swell in the water but it’s not big enough for Pipe to turn on.
- ROCKY POINT: Rocky Lefts and Rocky Rights. Reef break. Strong currents! Produces rippable faces and some solid barrels. Hotspot for rippers from around the world as a lot of photographers post up there all day. The shifty peaks and strong currents keep the crowd mixed up and on their toes. Advanced only.
- SUNSET BEACH: Another world famous gem of the North Shore. Slabby reef break. Can produce massive, unruly waves. Long paddle out. Multiple peaks over a huge area. Lefts and rights on offer with the rights being favored.
- VELZYLAND: Reef break. Often a draining right-hand ledge of a barrel with smashable sections. Lefts on offer too but they break into some very sharp and shallow reef. Locals have it dialed and on lockdown so be aware. As in, pay attention, wait your turn, bring your best etiquette, have a good attitude, and don’t expect to get anything. And hey, maybe you’ll get lucky.
- TURTLE BAY WEST: Right-hand reef break to the side of Turtle Bay Resort (which is a great place to grab a drink and catch sunset when you’re not surfing). Can get fun. Usually a mellow crowd since the resort is right there which brings a mix of people. Paddle out over shallow reef especially at lower tides. Good mix of all surfboard shapes and styles. Often people taking lessons on the inside.
Haleʻiwa., hi 96826
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