Ulua Lagoon, the first of the four Ko Olina Lagoons. Photo © Leigh Meeks/123rf.

O‘ahu’s Leeward Beaches

If you’re feeling adventurous and don’t mind an hour’s drive across the island, the beaches of leeward O‘ahu offer wide swaths of white sand under clear, sunny skies. As the trade winds blow across the island from east to west, the leeward coast’s waters remain calm and protected. Here are beach highlights, amenities, and the best activities for each.

Surfboard rack on the ocean shore in Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Surfing Lessons and Outfitters in Waikiki

You’ll find surfing is a way of life in Waikiki. There’s a long history here of welcoming visitors to learn how to catch a break and ride the big one that continues on today with several surf schools offering private, group, and customized surf tours for reasonable prices, as well as boards and gear.

A surfer shoots the curl on the North Shore.

Best North Shore O‘ahu Surf Spots

From surf spots best suited to kids and novices to waves best left to experienced locals, here are all the best surf spots on O‘ahu’s North Shore, along with how to get there, hazards to watch out for, and the breaks you’ll find.

Waves lap against the sand at Poka‘i Bay in Wai‘anae, Oahu.

O‘ahu Leeward Surf Spots

Much of the surf on the leeward side breaks over sharp and shallow reef, making it best suited for expert surfers. Scaling rocks and reef to enter and exit the water can be a challenge for newcomers, and the locals are quite territorial when it comes to their surf breaks. Still, with the right attitude, there’s definitely a wave to be had on the leeward coast.

A surfer tests his mettle against a large wave at the Eddie Aikau Invitational.

The Eddie Surf Tournament, O‘ahu

Learn about The Eddie, an annual yet elusive one-day event that honors the late North Shore waterman Eddie Aikau and the surfers who dedicate their lives to riding giant waves.

Surfboards for rent on Waikiki Beach.

Best Surf Spots in Waikiki

Synonymous with surfing, Waikiki is home to a host of excellent surf spots. Whether you are a longboarder, shortboarder, experienced, novice, or first-timer, there’s a number of breaks that suit all abilities. Here are the best of the best for everyone.

This restored stone structure is a historic and spiritual window into Hawaiian culture and perseverance.

Sightseeing in Makaha, O‘ahu

Sightseeing in Makahu includes a little bit of history, both outdoor and underground adventure, and some truly beautiful views. A few sites are deeply sacred in nature, so keep that in mind while you’re exploring. Here’s where to go.

A surfer gets out in front of an enormous wave on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

Surfing in Hale‘iwa and Turtle Bay

Dubbed the “Seven Mile Miracle,” O‘ahu’s North Shore has more high-quality surf breaks packed into the scenic coastline from Hale‘iwa to Turtle Bay than in any other place in the world. Here’s where to join surfers from around the world on these legendary waves.

Sharks Cove, part of the Pupukea-Waimea Marine Life Conservation District.

Day Trip Ideas for O‘ahu’s North Shore

Surf, sun, and beaches—the rural North Shore is all about leaving behind the city and tapping into the laidback atmosphere. For both summer and winter, here are some great trip ideas for a day on O‘ahu’s North Shore.