Surfing in Oahu North Shore

Surfing guide to Oahu North Shore, , ,

Oahu North Shore has 23 surf spots and 2 surf holidays. Go explore!

Overview of surfing in Oahu North Shore

The North Shore of Oahu is hailed as the Surfing Mecca of the World. This stretch of sand on the North side of the island is famed for its top quality surf breaks that are concentrated in a very short stretch of land. For this reason this area is known as the “Seven Mile Miracle,” and is compared to all other top surf destinations such as the Mentawai Islands, Maldives, and Bali. Surfing also has a long history in Hawaii, a place where many believe it was invented, and at the very least pioneered. The North Shore has also become a sort of proving ground for the top surfers in the world. Winters see everyone with a sticker in the water ripping into the swells over the reefs. The North Shore can also be the ideal place to hone your power game and get used to heavy water waves. And be sure to bring the whole family for a plethora of activities to enjoy when its flat!

Best Surf Spots

The concentration of top of the line spots here is insane, so here are three that give some variety and are among the best.


What can be said about Pipeline that hasn’t already been written. Many waves have been named after it (such as Puerto Escondido or El Gringo in Chile), but most pale in comparison to the original. This wave is one of the most photographed in the world and for good reason. The barrel is awe inspiring and terrifying at the same time. Being in the lineup is a whole ‘nother story as the crowd itself will intimidate even the most experienced surfers. Read more on Pipeline here!


Haleiwa is a heavy but high performance reef break that offers a long right hand wall that can barrel, have air sections, and always has a big open face to carve. Take care, even when smaller there is a lot of water moving here, and the currents are known to sweep unwary surfers out all the time. Learn more here!

Rocky Point

Out of the three mentioned here Rocky Point is by far the tamest. This peak will serve up both lefts and rights that offer high performance sections as well as the odd barrel. This spot will also be least crowded of the three listed, although still full. Learn more about this break here!


The summer months see much smaller swell, most head to the South shore of the island to hit the South swells. The North shore will tend to be picking up any scrap of windswell or small storm in the North Pacific but generally won’t get over the chest to head high range. This is the time of year to learn to surf as the waves are not nearly as dangerous as the winter month.


The North Shore is a far cry from what it once was. Luxury villas and some of the most expensive real estate in the world is found along this stretch of coast. Forget about camping near this area, you’ll need to rent either a room, hotel, resort, or full villa. Therefore costs for accommodation are not cheap. A single room will run you at the minimum $700 a month, which will be the cheapest option. From there you can go as high as you’d like on the cost and luxury scale. Only your billfold and imagination aare your limits in this department.


The Good
World Class Surf
Diverse Surfing Opportunities
Historic Surf Culture
Amazing Natural Beauty
The Bad
Dangerous Waves
High Cost
Limited Connectivity
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2 Best Surf Resorts and Camps in Oahu North Shore

Getting there

Geographical Information

The Hawaiian Islands are found almost directly in the middle of the Pacific. This leads to a 360 degree swell window and year round waves. The North Shore of Oahu is positioned facing NNW which leaves it open to the full force of almost any Northern Hemisphere winter swell. The fact that there is no continental shelf to degrade the swell before it hits makes for some of the most powerful waves in the world.

Generally the reefs here will be lava rock, due to the fact that the islands owe their existence to the active volcanoes still belching lava to this day. They have since been carved by water outflowing from shore creating channels and crannies for paddle outs and amazingly shaped waves.

Getting around

Plane, bus, boat, car – all these means of transportation are available in Hawaii. Airlines are quite good and you can find virtually all flights between the islands. And you can actually save money and time by planning “triangle routes” that arrive in Hawaii on one island and leave on another. Of course, booking in advance will save you money as well.

If you want to travel by car, book in advance (Waikiki is the only exception) and note that insurance coverage is very expensive – it can pretty much double your daily rate or more. Gasoline won’t be cheap as well. In this situation renting a scooter or taking a bus can be good alternatives. Renting a scooter won’t be as expensive as renting a car (about $50 per day), plus the gas is cheaper as well. And Oahu has an excellent public transportation system – TheBus. The route information on how to get around the island is available from the booklet “TheBus” at local ABC Stores. There are buses on the neighboring islands, but the system is less developed.

If you prefer to get around by water than the following options are for you.  There are ferries that operate between Oahu, Maui, and Kauai daily, as well as charter boats between some islands, especially the Maui-Molokai-Lanai area.

The 23 best Surf spots in Oahu North Shore

Overview of surfing spots in Oahu North Shore

Banzai Pipeline

Left | Exp Surfers
150m long

Off The Wall

Peak | Exp Surfers
100m long


Right | Exp Surfers
100m long


Peak | Exp Surfers
100m long

Outside Puaena Point

Right | Exp Surfers
200m long


Peak | Exp Surfers
200m long


Right | Exp Surfers
300m long


Right | Exp Surfers
100m long

Surf spot overview

Surf Culture and Etiquette in Hawaii

The North Shore of Oahu is known worldwide for having a history of localism. The infamous “Wolf Pack” and “Da Hui” were two of the most well known local crews. This phenomenon has been even depicted in multiple Hollywood films, most notably “North Shore”. No matter who you are, especially if you are not Hawaiian, you need to show respect for the locals and those that have put hours upon hours over many years at the spot you are surfing.

The biggest example of this is the lineup at Pipeline, in which the hierarchy lends itself both to safety and proper wave distribution. Due to the level of difficulty and danger at the breaks here, a good stratification of lineup order goes a long way in preventing drop ins and injury. Your best bet is to be as respectful as possible. If it is your first time at a break know that it is unlikely that you will luck into a set wave, and be okay with that. Above all else, don’t be those guys that tried to paddle out at pipe on foamies and then didn’t listen to the lifeguards when they told them not to go out. (which are the best in the world).

Surf seasons and when to go

The best time of the year to surf in Oahu North Shore

Due to it’s orientation the North Shore of Oahu turns on during the fall and winter months. During this time it is exposed to the full swell potential of the North Pacific. This time of year is best for those looking to surf big and powerful waves. From massive canvases to carve to gaping pits to get spit out of, this is the time of year to test your mettle. Wind patterns ted to be good, although if the trades blow most spots will not be working.

General Weather Overview

The North Shore of Oahu boasts a tropical climate characterized by two distinct seasons: the dry season, which spans from April to October, and the wet season, extending from November to March. During the summer months in the dry season, the North Shore experiences warm, sun-filled days with temperatures often hovering around the mid-80s Fahrenheit, while nights are pleasantly cooler. The trade winds, a signature element of Hawaiian weather, frequently grace the coastline with their gentle and refreshing breezes. Conversely, the winter months bring increased rainfall and cooler temperatures, generally ranging from the mid-60s to the high-70s. Despite these seasonal changes, the region’s weather remains relatively mild, making it a year-round destination for both surf enthusiasts and sun-seekers alike.

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Oahu North Shore surf travel guide

Find trips that fit a flexible lifestyle

What to pack

Definitely take along some bug repellent spray, good sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses! Better take your medicines with you (esp. antihistamine tablets), as the brands can be unfamiliar and cost more. Take your snorkeling gear with you – you won’t regret.
Don’t forget beach clothing & sandals and take some warm clothes (plus socks and shoes) for evenings.

Camping is not going to happen on Oahu, but hiking is! Bring comfortable shoes and plan to do a lot of walking.

Also, bring cash with you in case you can’t find an ATM to withdraw money. You would probably find a bank but it will charge you a hefty fee! So be warned.


Oahu, like the rest of Hawaii, uses the U.S. Dollar (USD) as its official currency. Credit cards are widely accepted, especially in more commercial areas like Haleiwa Town, but it’s always a good idea to keep some cash on hand for smaller vendors, local markets, or remote locations. When planning a trip to the North Shore, it’s crucial to set a budget in advance, given the range of accommodation and dining options. While the North Shore can offer luxurious resorts and upscale dining experiences, there are also more budget-friendly alternatives such as vacation rentals, hostels, and food trucks. Regardless of your budget, it’s recommended to book accommodations well in advance, especially during peak surfing season, to secure the best rates and availability.

Wifi/Cell Coverage

The North Shore of Oahu has seen significant improvements in connectivity over the years. Most accommodations, from high-end resorts to local cafes, offer free Wi-Fi to guests. However, the strength and speed of connections may vary, especially in more secluded areas or during peak usage times. As for cell coverage, major U.S. carriers generally provide reliable service in the region, but there might be occasional dead zones or weak signals in more remote parts or rugged terrains. If staying connected is vital for you, consider investing in a local SIM card or a portable Wi-Fi device, and always check with your accommodation about the quality of their internet connection in advance.

Activities other than Surf

While the North Shore is globally renowned for its epic surf, it offers a plethora of other activities for those looking to diversify their Hawaiian experience. Nature enthusiasts can embark on hikes through lush landscapes, like the trails in Waimea Valley, leading to cascading waterfalls and providing panoramic views of the Pacific. The region also beckons history and culture buffs to delve into its rich heritage, with attractions like the Polynesian Cultural Center showcasing the traditions of Pacific Island nations. Laniakea Beach, affectionately termed “Turtle Beach,” offers visitors a unique opportunity to observe green sea turtles in their natural habitat. Additionally, shopping aficionados can find delight in Haleiwa Town, with its boutique stores, art galleries, and local markets. No trip to the North Shore is complete without indulging in the local cuisine, whether it’s savoring fresh poke bowls, enjoying a plate lunch, or cooling down with the iconic Hawaiian shave ice.

All in all the North Shore is a must visit for any serious surfer looking to try themselves in heavy conditions. This region is the perfect place for either a hardcore surf trip or a relaxing getaway with the whole family. Come see why Hawaii is one fo the top destinations in the world

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