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If the perfect wave exists, you’ll find it on Oʻahu’s North Shore. The towering, glassy winter waves of this legendary surf mecca draw the best surfers in the world, while smaller and gentler summer waves are better for beginners. 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 biggest of them all, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (November - December). Waimea Bay, ʻEhukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline) and Sunset Beach are great places to sunbathe and stroll along the shore—just leave surfing the huge waves to the pros because they can be very dangerous for inexperienced surfers.
The months between November and February are the best times to see big wave surfing. The massive waves can sometimes swell up to thirty feet or more—dangerous even for experienced surfers—so always heed warning signs. From May to September, the waves subside, creating a more tranquil atmosphere for surfing and swimming.
Roughly a one-hour drive from Waikīkī, the North Shore is also home to a variety of accommodation options, including condo rentals and the exclusive beachside Turtle Bay Resort. Take a little road trip to the charming surf town of Haleʻiwa Town, where you can shop, eat like a local and cool off with rainbow-flavored shave ice. Continue your drive to Lāʻie to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center and the old plantation town of Kahuku.
CLIMB Works Keana Farms
Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC)
Explore the rich heritage and cultural traditions of six Pacific Island nations — Hawai‘i, Fiji, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga — through hands-on activities, arts, crafts, music, food, and live entertainment. As the sun sets, enjoy the authentic Hawaiian Ali‘i Lū‘au and Hā: The Breath of Life, a showcase of Polynesian music and dance with over 100 performers. Here you’ll also find the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. PCC offers a round trip Shuttle Service from Waikīkī and the O‘ahu Circle Island Tour which features an island tour and round trip Waikīkī transportation for additional fees.
James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge
Located in Kahuku, the Refuge is one of the few scattered remnants of the natural wetlands on O‘ahu established to provide a habitat for endangered Hawaiian waterbirds, migratory shorebirds, waterfowl, seabirds, endangered and native plant species, the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, and threatened honu (Hawaiian green sea turtle). Tours available only when endangered Hawaiians waterbirds are not breeding, October-February.
"Waimea Bay has a lot of history. It’s known to be one of the first places where the guys ventured out in the 50’s and rode giant waves. Banzai Pipeline is a remarkable spot. For spectators it’s probably one of the better spots to watch surfing. It is a dangerous place, so it’s for experts only. Sunset Beach is my favorite spot, actually. It’s where I learned to ride big waves."