The North Shore is synonymous with surfing. Dubbed the “Seven Mile Miracle,” this area 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. The powerful waves draw surfers from around the world, and for over three decades professional surfing’s elite world tour has wrapped up the title season at the infamous Banzai Pipeline.

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

Watch expert surfers attempt to ride the barrel at one of the most dangerous breaks in the world– Oahu’s Banzai Pipeline. Photo © Joshua Rainey/123rf.

There are lifeguards posted at most North Shore beaches; check with them for ocean conditions and safety.The waves on the North Shore are also some of the most dangerous, and deadliest, in the world. With huge breaks, strong currents, and shallow reefs, even top athletes are not immune to severe injury or death. Because of these and other factors, only expert surfers should paddle out. There are lifeguards posted at most North Shore beaches; check with them for ocean conditions and safety. If you’re having doubts about the waves and your ability, it’s best to have a seat on the beach, enjoy the spectacle, and live to surf another day on a different wave.

Hale‘iwa

Hale‘iwa Break

Located in Hale‘iwa town to the west of the harbor, Hale‘iwa breaks off Ali‘i Beach. A peak when it’s small, the wave becomes exponentially more dangerous the larger it gets, breaking as a predominant right. The fast waves closeout over a very shallow inside reef ledge known as the Toilet Bowl. A strong rip current is a staple at Hale‘iwa. Paddle out from the west side of the beach, to the left of the Toilet Bowl section.

Pua‘ena Point

Pua‘ena Point is one of smaller and softer waves on the North Shore, just to the north of the ‘Anahulu River. It has both right and left breaking waves and is friendly for longboarders when it’s small. The waves can still get big at Pua‘ena, but it doesn’t happen that often. Paddle straight out from the beach. The parking lot can be a bit suspect, so don’t leave any valuables in plain sight.

Turtle Bay

Kuilima Point

Kuilima Point, known locally as Turtle Bay, is a funky, soft wave that breaks along a sharp reef outcropping into deep water. Since the break is just off Kuilima Point, where the Turtle Bay Resort is situated, you can literally watch the surfers from Turtle Bay’s pool bar. The inside has soft rolling white water that is perfect for beginners. You can also rent longboards at the resort. The beach and water are open to the public. Paddle out from the rocky shore in front of the bungalows.

Vans Triple Crown of Surfing

For six weeks every winter, from early November through late December, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (Nov.-Dec.) takes over the North Shore. This professional surfing event is comprised of three contests, the first at Ali‘i Beach Park in Hale‘iwa, the second at Sunset Beach, and the final one at the Banzai Pipeline. An international field of hundreds of competitors, as well as a cadre of hungry locals, battle it out on the biggest and best days of surf during the holding period for each event. Spectators flock to the beach to watch the action, some of the best surfing in the world. There are food vendors, restrooms, drinking water, souvenirs, and giveaways at each event. With limited parking and an influx of people on the North Shore, expect driving delays and plan to either pay for parking or park and walk quite a distance, especially during the Pipeline event.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.