Pipeline from above

Oahu Surf Report: Best Places to Surf on the Island of Oahu

Oahu is the third largest island in Hawaii, and is home to most of the state’s residents. It’s also home to some of the best surfing spots in Hawaii. The north shore of Oahu has been popular with surfers for many years because of its consistent waves and great breaks offering year round surf. While there are other spots around the island that are good for surfing, none can rival the north shore when it comes to quality of waves and ease of access.

Waikiki and the South Shore

The south shore of Oahu is a great place to go surfing, especially for beginners. The waves are generally smaller than those found on the north shore, (unless there is a large South swell), making them easier to navigate. Additionally, this area is located near Honolulu, so it’s easily accessible for residents and tourists alike. Most beginners generally surf in Waikiki, (this wave is somewhat similar to San Onofre in California), but has consistent (smaller) surf most of the year.  The rest of the South shore is good for more intermediate-level surfers and many of the North Shore surfers come down to surf Ala Moana aka Moana bowls in the Summer months when the swell is bigger.


South Shore Surf Spots:

  • Ala Moana Bowls – Experts Only (Breaks in front of the Ala Wai Boat Harbor)
  • Fours – In Front of the Army Museum
  • Populars – Good Longboard spot, East of Fours
  • Canoe’s – Good long board spot, straight out in front of Kuhio Beach
  • Queen’s – Fun wave on the East end of the Kuhio beach park
  • Public’s – Just East of Queen’s, which is pretty shallow
  • Old Mans / Tongg’s – Outer reef for longboarding
  • Diamond Head (West End near Makalei Beach)


Oahu’s North Shore

The North Shore of Oahu is known for its world-class waves and is generally only for expert surfers in the winter months (September – March). The stretch of coastline from Turtle Bay to Haleiwa is home to some of the most famous surf spots in the world. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only place you can find waves on Oahu’s north shore. There are a number of hidden gems along this stretch of coast that are accessible by car, or just a short walk from your hotel, just stay humble, show respect and don’t hassle the locals. Whether you want to catch small waves or find monster surf, there’s an ideal break for everyone here.
Oahu North Shore Stormsurf map

North Shore Surf Spots:

  • Banzai Pipeline / Backdoor – Is the most famous break on the North Shore, and the world’s most dangerous surf break. It earned that reputation during the ‘60s and ‘70s when the “bullet” waves there were ridden by only the bravest surfers. It requires a long paddle out, and the waves are extremely powerful and unpredictable. The Banzai Pipeline can be accessed from the Banzai side. You’ll know once you see the crowd of people waiting to catch a glimpse of the surfers in action. The Banzai pipeline is best for experienced surfers. The “Backdoor” is a break almost directly opposite the Banzai Pipeline. It’s the calm water behind Banzai Pipeline.
  • Turtle Bay – This break is right in front of the Turtle Bay hotel, so it’s great if you’re staying nearby. It’s a break with small, gentle waves that are ideal for beginners.
  • Sunset Beach – Is a long stretch of reef & sand where you can find a number of breaks to suit your skill level. The main Sunset break is for experts only, as the surf goes XL here in the winter and is challenging for the best surfers in the world.  There is an inside section towards Haleiwa called Keiki’s, which is usually a bit more tame than the main Sunset break.
  • Waimea Bay – This is a great place to watch XXL surf in the wintertime. The traffic comes to a stop here in the winter, when the swell is pumping, but it’s worth the wait.
  • Velzyland
  • Rocky point
  • Off The Wall
  • Haleiwa Aliʻi Beach
  • Chun’s Reef
  • Ehukai Beach
  • Lani’s


West Coast of Oahu

The east coast of Oahu is a great place to go surfing, particularly if there is a straight West swell. The waves can be smaller than those found on the North Shore (during winter), making them easier to navigate. The east coast is also home to one of the best surfing spots on the island.
  • Makaha Beach Park – is widely considered to be one of the premier surf breaks in the world. The Makaha Beach Break is best for experienced surfers, but you can have fun on a longboard here. The rest of the east coast is good for more intermediate-level surfers. There are hidden gems on this side of the island as well if you’re willing to explore


East Coast of Oahu

The East side of Oahu has surf from Kahuku to Makapu’u, but you will have a difficult time getting directions to these spots. There are a few places to surf if you’re willing to explore.

Hawaii 10- Day Surf Reports

Winter Swell Slamming the North Shore of Oahu

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