Surfer on Oahu's North Shore
February 10, 2021
| by
Jana Free

Oahu Things to do: Guide to North Shore Beaches

See this latest Oahu Travel Blog article, ‘Oahu Things to do: Guide to North Shore Beaches,’ to uncover the best places for surf and sand on the North Shore of Oahu. Learn about where to visit for big waves and calm waters throughout the year.

These are unusual times we find ourselves living in, with restrictions being put in place and lifted with little notice, so please be sure to confirm operating hours before visiting any of the attractions or venues mentioned in this article.

Looking for the best beaches on Oahu? You will find some of the most famous and beautiful stretches of beach, and the biggest waves, on the island’s North Shore. 

Known around the world for massive swells and popular things to do on Oahu like world-class surfing championships, the North Shore is the place to visit for water sports as well as the laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle that you have heard so much about.

In this Oahu Travel Blog article, Oahu Things to do: Guide to North Shore Beaches, we introduce you to the famous beaches of Oahu’s North Shore and top spots for surfing including Sunset Beach and the Banzai Pipeline.

The North Shore’s iconic 30-foot-plus waves roll in from November to February, so amateurs may want to sit these rides out until the waters calm down during the summer months. Summertime is when swimming and snorkeling are perfect activities to enjoy.

How do you get to the renowned North Shore beaches? Just head to Kamehameha Highway, the “7-Mile Miracle” that snakes along Oahu’s North Shore. Ideal for a day trip, Kamehameha Highway is the answer to the 2-lane-road that provided thrilling getaways of days gone by. This beautiful drive will take you past volcanic shores and hidden coves before delivering you to the pipelines that inspire dreamers around the globe.

Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline)
Distance from Ambassador Hotel Waikiki:
38.6 miles

Those with the biggest surf dreams test their skills on the Banzai Pipeline, otherwise known as Ehukai beach. Beginning surfers with their eyes on the prize hope to one day face their competitor, human or Mother Nature, on one of the barrel waves at Ehukai.

The golden sand that meets the emerald blue waters at Ehukai make for one of the most beautiful scenes on Oahu. Here, at Pipeline, man meets a force that is other-worldly. While ominous yet inspiring during winter, Ehukai is chilled-out and blissful from June to September, so head here for summertime swimming, sun and fun.


Sunset Beach
Distance from Ambassador Hotel Waikiki: 39.6 miles

When most people think of an Oahu beach, they picture Waikiki Beach or the gigantic waves of the North Shore beaches. Sunset Beach, originally named Paumalu, is a quintessential beach on the island’s North Shore and it features world-renown surfing contests as well as swells that peak at 20-plus feet during the winter months.

Sunset Beach, located just off Kamehameha Highway, hosts the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing championships each year and it is a popular place for bodyboarding. When the water is calmer, swimming and snorkeling is safe and enjoyable at Sunset Beach.


Waimea Bay Beach
Distance from Ambassador Hotel Waikiki: 36.2 miles

One of several big-wave beaches on the North Shore, Waimea Bay teems with surfers from October to April, the time of year when you will likely spot waves reaching 25 feet and taller. Not ready to hit these massive towers of glass? Visit Waimea during summer to swim and sunbathe on the soft sandy beach.

If you are feeling a little adventurous, you can take a leap off of ‘Da Rock’ at Waimea - a 30-foot drop (depending on the tide). You don’t have to be a dare devil to enjoy Waimea, though. Just watching the surfers and jumpers is a thrill.


Kuilima Cove Beach
Distance from Ambassador Hotel Waikiki: 43.7 miles

Kuilima Cove sits tucked between 2 points of limestone, sheltered on a small volcanic islet. Calm waters and coral flats distinguish this beach, which is a safe haven for many colorful fish that you can discover while snorkeling. 

Not a surfer’s beach, Kuilima Cove is ideal for families who want to rent lounge chairs and cabanas in order to relax and play the day away. After a day of sun at Kuilima Cove, grab food and drinks from the Roy’s Beach House takeout window and continue the relaxation into the evening on a peaceful piece of paradise.


Mokuleai Beach
Distance from Ambassador Hotel Waikiki: 33.6 miles

If you want to feel like you have been shipwrecked on a secluded island, visit Mokuleai Beach. Once here, you may think that the scenery looks familiar. This beach was featured in the television series Lost, and it is the perfect place to get away from Oahu and North Shore civilization.

Mokuleai Beach is located about 3 miles from the start of Kaena Point trail, a dirt pathway that overlooks the Pacific and leads you to the westernmost tip of Oahu.

This Oahu Travel Blog article: Oahu Things to do: Guide to North Shore Beaches features just some of the amazing beaches for surfing, sun and fun on Oahu’s North Shore.

If you have any questions about visiting the beaches on the North Shore after reading this guide, please feel free to ask our Concierge for more information. 

Visit our Oahu Visitors Guide for more recommendations for all there is to do, see and experience when visiting Oahu.

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