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Tip: This town is best known for hosting the annual Merrie Monarch Festival.
Oahu’s Great Surfing Beaches
Each year surfing enthusiasts and curious observers flock to Oahu’s famous surfing beaches for a taste of the best wave riding in the world. Whether you’re riding or watching it’s not to be missed.
In the winter months (November through March) big sets roll onto the northern and western shores of all Hawaiian Islands. Generated by storms in the North Pacific, these big waves make it possible for Oahu’s North Shore to “go off” for surfers who travel here from all over the world to compete in the world’s largest professional surfing competitions.
In the summer months (May through September), surfers head to the Islands’ southern and eastern shores, where ocean swells arrive from storms in the South Pacific.
Check out these top surfing spots:
North Shore: Surfing Mecca
Known for its spectacular, and dangerous, winter surf. Site of the second surfing contest in the legendary Triple Crown of Surfing Championships on Oahu’s North Shore every December. As its name indicates, this beach is also a great place to pick a spot on the sand and watch the sunset.
This huge beach and small picnic area sits at the mouth of the stream that flows out of Waimea Adventure Park. Each winter Waimea hosts the world’s most prestigious big-wave surfing competition, the “In Memory of Eddie Aikau,” held only when wave heights exceed 20 feet.
Home of the famous Banzai Pipeline surf break, known for its spectacular (and dangerous) winter surf. Site of the final surfing contest in the legendary Triple Crown of Surfing Championships on Oahu’s North Shore every December.
Haleiwa’s Ali’i Beach
Site of the first surfing contest in the legendary Triple Crown of Surfing Championships on Oahu’s North Shore every December. This park is good for large gatherings, picnics and swimming on calm summer days.
South Shore: Sweet Summer Swells
Waikiki Beach & Diamond Head Beach
Home of the original Waikiki Beachboys and the playground of famous wave rider and Olympic champion swimmer Duke Kahanamoku, this two-mile-long beach is the heart of Hawaii’s busiest visitor district. Offshore you’ll find some of the best summer surf breaks on the island â€” including spots called Diamond Head, Queens, Kaisers, Ala Moana Bowls, Tennis Courts, Big Rights and Kewalos.
West Side: Clean and Quiet
Makaha Beach Park
This beach, marked by a large rock outcropping called Lahi Lahi, is famous for its clean surf breaks and annual longboard surf contests. Since winter brings big waves, swimming here should be reserved for the summer months.
At the end of the road this isolated stretch of beach is a favorite among local surfers. Sporting such names as “First Dips” and “Third Dips,” these breaks are clean and impressive during a winter northwestern swell. (Note: On calm summer mornings you may even be treated to a pod of resident spinner dolphins cruising just offshore along Yokohama and Makua bays.)
Southeast Shore: Fast and Furious
Located below Makapu’u Point and Lighthouse, this beach is famous for its favorable bodysurfing and bodyboarding conditions â€” but is not for novices or those unfamiliar with these waters. Like its neighbor to the southwest, Sandy Beach, it often has a dangerous shorebreak.
Popular bodysurfing and bodyboarding spot known for its dangerous shorebreak. Not recommended if you are a novice or unfamiliar with these waters. Sandy Beach and neighboring Makapu’u Beach produce the most surfing-related injuries in Hawaii each year.