Oahu Surf Spots

Oahu, Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing, and today it remains the sport's
spiritual home. Read through our Oahu Surf Spot guide to learn about this unique surfing mecca.

Oahu’s four coasts each contain their own unique surf culture. Known as the “7-mile Miracle”, The North Shore is home to legendary surf spots such as Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach, and Waimea Bay. It contains world-class waves for more experienced surfers from V-Land to Haleiwa. The South Shore is the birthplace of surfing. The Waikiki surf spots consistently teach more first-time surfers to ride their first wave then almost anywhere else. The West and East Shores each have their share of perfect breaks, while maintaining a very mellow, Hawaiian feel.

No other island on Earth offers such a variety of waves for all ability levels. On Oahu, you can't help but soak in the incredible Polynesian vibe, because their lives revolve around the ocean. Surfing, bodysurfing, sailing, stand-up paddle surfing, outrigger canoe – they do it all in Hawaii.

Oahu has consistent surf year-round; where you go on the island just depends on your skill level and what time of year you visit. Here is a breakdown of the surf seasons on Oahu:

 

North Shore

South Shore

Best Surfing

Summer

Smaller swells – good for beginners

Very consistent swells

South Shore

Fall

North swells begin to fill in.

South swells begin to taper off.

All shores are consistent.

Winter

Consistent North Swells

Smaller swells – good for beginners

North and West Shores

Spring

Fairly consistent North swells continue into early spring, then begin to taper off.

South Shores starts to see bigger, more consistent swells.

All shores are consistent.

Find an Oahu surf school.

North Shore Oahu Surf Spots

There are numerous fantastic surf spots on the famous North Shore of Oahu.
Here is a sampling of the better-known spots, listed from west to east.

Haleiwa (Alii’i Beach Park) - North Shore

Surf Location Off of Kamehameha Highway, next to the Haleiwa Boat Harbor; paddle out is on the left of the jetty
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction Light trade wind
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality First stop of the Triple Crown of Surfing Contest. The right is more consistent and can get hollow. Some lefts come through that are fun and rippable.
The Surfers Can get crowded
Boards Round pin, ripper.
Paddle Out Tough
Skill Level Intermediate and up
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Localism, groms on the inside.
Water Condition Relatively clean

Haleiwa, Oahu - Surf Video

 

Waimea Bay - North Shore

Surf Location Off of Kamahameha Highway, at the mouth of Waimea Falls valley, almost at the exact halfway point of the North Shore surf strip
Best Swell Direction Northwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction Light trade wind
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality One of the first recognized big wave surf spots in the world, and site of the only ASP sanctioned big wave contest. When the North Shore is closing out, Waimea Bay starts to come alive. Right point break that holds swells up to 50 feet. When it is not quite big enough to work, another right called Pinballs can be surfed on the inside close to the rocks.
The Surfers Very crowded
Boards Big wave gun
Paddle Out Moderately tough
Skill Level Intermediate to Pro
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Localism, dangerous shorebreak, very strong currents, freak sets.
Water Condition Relatively clean

Log Cabins - North Shore

Surf Location At the western end of Off-the-Wall, west of the big pile of rocks on the beach.
Best Swell Direction North
Best Tide Medium to high
Best Wind Direction Light trade winds
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality Fast, powerful, very long and often epic.
The Surfers Semi-crowded normally, less crowded on big days
Boards Shortboard, round pin
Paddle Out Relatively easy
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Reef with sand
Watch Out For… Exposed rocks, outer logs bombs that close out on you when its big.
Water Condition Clean

Rockpiles - North Shore

Surf Location Right in front of the first lifeguard tower west of Off-the-Wall.
Best Swell Direction Northwest
Best Tide Low and Mid
Best Wind Direction Southeast, East
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality Hollow, ledgey and powerful right and left reef/coral break. Regional classic.
The Surfers Moderately to very crowded.
Boards Round pin
Paddle Out Easy
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Reef, sand.
Watch Out For… Sharp reef/coral, rip-tide/undertow.
Water Condition Relatively clean, very murky after it rains.

Off the Wall - North Shore

Surf Location Off of Kamehameha Highway, just west of Backdoor
Best Swell Direction North, Northwest, Northeast
Best Tide Mid
Best Wind Direction Southeast, East, Northeast
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality Mostly a hollow, fast and powerful right tube, with some lefts. Closes out on the inside.
The Surfers Can get very crowded
Boards Round pin
Paddle Out Relatively easy
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Reef with sand
Watch Out For… Sea urchins, rip-tide and undertow, sharp rocks
Water Condition Clean

Backdoor - North Shore

Surf Location Just west of Ehukai Beach Park, along Kamehameha Highway
Best Swell Direction West
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction Light trade wind
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality The same take-off zone as pipe, but a right-hand barrel, breaks over very shallow reef, hollow, fast and powerful.
The Surfers Can get really crowded, very localized spot.
Boards Pintail, mini-gun
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… The shallow area shortly after the take-off, you do not want to fall there.
Water Condition Clean

Banzai Pipeline - North Shore

Surf Location Just west of Ehukai Beach Park, along Kamehameha Highway
Best Swell Direction West
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction Light trade wind
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality Probably the only other household name in surfing other than Kelly Slater. Pipe is a legendary wave that demands a surfer’s respect. It is the final stop of the Triple Crown of Surfing as well as the ASP World Tour. It’s a super fast, ledgy left-hand reef break with one of the best tubes in the entire world. Huge gaping tubes that could fit a stationwagon.
The Surfers Extremely crowded, very localized spot
Boards Pintail, mini-gun
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Rip-tide and undertow, strong currents, sharp reef, if you wipeout you will hit the reef.
Water Condition Clean

Pipeline, Oahu - Surf Video

 

Ehukai Beach Park - North Shore

Surf Location 59-337 Ke-Nui Road
Best Swell Direction North, Northwest, Northeast
Best Tide All
Best Wind Direction East, Northeast
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality A hollow, fast and powerful right and left that can break furiously, while giving you a perfect view of the guys being spit out of the barrel at Pipeline. When the sand bars are formed correctly this surf spot will give you the tube-ride of your life over shallow and soft sand.
The Surfers Can get really crowded
Boards Ripper, round pin.
Paddle Out Easy when small, can be the toughest when big.
Skill Level All
Bottom Sand, rock, reef.
Watch Out For… Sharp rocks, riptide, and undertow
Water Condition Clean

Rocky Point (Rocky Lefts) - North Shore

Surf Location Off of Kamehameha Highway, between the Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach
Best Swell Direction Northwest
Best Tide Varies
Best Wind Direction Light trade winds, East-Northeast
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality A hollow, fast and powerful right and left rock/reef break, normal in length
The Surfers Can get crowded, especially on weekends
Boards Ripper
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Reef and rocks
Watch Out For… Sharp rocks, shallow shelf on the inside, rip-tide and undertow.
Water Condition Clean

Sunset Beach - North Shore

Surf Location 59-104 Kamehameha Highway
Best Swell Direction North, Northwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East, Southeast
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality Site of the second stop of the Triple Crown of Surfing, this wave is one of the more famous surf spots in surfing history. There is nearly a 200-yard takeoff zone, with three main spots: The Point, The Main Reef, and Backyards. Generally hollow, fast, powerful and ledgey right reef breaks, with some lefts at Backyards.
The Surfers Can get crowded
Boards Pintail, mini-gun
Paddle Out Moderate, currents in the channel take you out, but the same currents can make it hard to get in. Tough at Backyards.
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Rip-tide and undertow, strong currents, sharp rocks and reef, localism.
Water Condition Clean in summer, murkier in winter

Sunset Beach, Oahu - Surf Video

 

Velzyland - North Shore

Surf Location Off of Kamehameha Highway, just north of Ted’s Bakery, first stop on the North Shore.
Best Swell Direction Northwest
Best Tide Varies
Best Wind Direction Light trade winds, East-Northeast
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality Named after legendary surfboard shaper Dale Velzy, this wave is an amazing right-hander that will give you rippable walls and long barrels. When it gets really big, there is a left called Freddies on the south side of the same bay, and behind them both is a big wave spot called Phantoms.
The Surfers Crowded
Boards Ripper, pintail, big wave gun
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Sharp reef, strong currents, localism.
Water Condition Clean

Turtle Bay - North Shore

Surf Location 57-091 Kamehameha Highway, at the Turtle Bay Beach Resort
Best Swell Direction North, Northwest, Northeast
Best Tide All
Best Wind Direction Southwest, South, Southeast
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality On the west side of the resort, a hollow, fast and powerful right reef break when the swell is up, and a fun longboard wave that can take you over a hundred yards when its smaller. On the east side of the resort there is a right called Rainbows that gets fun when there is more east in the swell. Further east from Rainbows is Baggers, a very long and hollow left tube over shallow reef.
The Surfers Semi-crowded on weekends.
Boards Ripper, longboard
Paddle Out Can be tough
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Sandy, flat rocks, reef.
Watch Out For… Rocks, shallow spots on the east side of the resort, Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish when the wind is blowing hard.
Water Condition Clean

South Shore Oahu and Waikiki Surf Spots

While the North Shore is known for its crashing winter waves and professional contents, the South Shore and West Coast can also provide a variety of great waves year-round. Many travelers take their first lesson from one of the many surf schools in Waikiki. Here are some South Shore surf spots, listed from west to east.

Makaha - West Coast

Surf Location Take Kamehameha Highway west past Nanakuli and watch for the signs
Best Swell Direction Northwest, West
Best Tide Any
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality A fast, powerful and fun right reef break.
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends
Boards Round pin, Mini-gun, Longboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Rock and sand
Watch Out For… Sharp reef and localism.
Water Condition Clean

Ala Moana Bowls - South Shore

Surf Location At Ala Moana Harbor
Best Swell Direction South
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality Long, hollow, powerful, fast and ledgey left tube.
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends
Boards Pintail (longboard and shortboard)
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Coral reef
Watch Out For… Heavy localism, sharp rocks and reef
Water Condition Can be polluted after rain.

Ala Moana Bowls, Oahu - Surf Video

 

Kaisers - South Shore

Surf Location At the Ala Moana Boat Harbor, break is located to the right of the Atlantis Submarine by the boat channel
Best Swell Direction Southwest, South, Southeast
Best Tide Rising tide from all directions
Best Wind Direction North, Northwest, Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality A ledgey, fast and powerful right and left reef break, can get hollow
The Surfers Very crowded
Boards Ripper, Round Pin
Paddle Out Tough
Skill Level Experienced
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Sharp rocks and coral, buoys, sharks and locals.
Water Condition Semi-clean

Three's - South Shore

Surf Location In Waikiki at Kuhio Beach near the statue of Duke Kahanamoku; parking available in the Fort Derussy lot
Best Swell Direction South
Best Tide All
Best Wind Direction Southeast
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality A long, fast and powerful right and left reef break, can get hollow
The Surfers Semi-crowded on weekends
Boards Ripper
Paddle Out Tough, half-mile out.
Skill Level Experienced and up
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Rip-tide and undertow
Water Condition Relatively clean

Canoes - South Shore

Surf Location In Waikiki at Kuhio Beach near the statue of Duke Kahanamoku; parking available at the zoo
Best Swell Direction South
Best Tide Medium to low
Best Wind Direction Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality Short, easy right and left reef break.
The Surfers Can get extremely crowded.
Boards Longboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Beginners and up
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Outrigger canoes
Water Condition Relatively clean

Queens - South Shore

Surf Location Off of Kalakaua Avenue, near Kapiolani Park
Best Swell Direction Southwest, South, Southeast
Best Tide All
Best Wind Direction Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality A fun right and left reef break, can get long on a good day
The Surfers Very crowded on weekends
Boards Longboard
Paddle Out Easy
Skill Level All
Bottom Reef with sand
Watch Out For… Sharp rocks
Water Condition Mostly Clean

Publics - South Shore

Surf Location Walk from the Kapiolani Park
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest
Best Tide Mid-tide
Best Wind Direction Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality A consistent long left
The Surfers Can get crowded
Boards Longboard and mini-gun
Paddle Out Tough
Skill Level Beginner and up
Bottom Coral reef
Watch Out For… Very sharp coral that pops up out of nowhere, especially in low tide
Water Condition Relatively clean

Point Panic - South Shore

Surf Location Near the Kawalo Basin boat channel.
Best Swell Direction South
Best Tide Any
Best Wind Direction Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality A right and left reef break. Mostly a bodyboarding spot, but some fun rippable waves come through for everyone.
The Surfers Can get crowded.
Boards Ripper
Paddle Out Easy
Skill Level All
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Sharp reef, watch out for the rock jetty that you’ll slam into if you don’t pull out in time, hence the name “Point Panic”.
Water Condition Semi-clean

Cliffs and Lighthouse (Diamondhead) - South Shore

Surf Location Look for Diamondhead
Best Swell Direction South
Best Tide All
Best Wind Direction North
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality A long right and left reef break
The Surfers Can get very crowded
Boards Rippers and longboards.
Paddle Out Easy
Skill Level All
Bottom Reef and rocks
Watch Out For… Sharp rocks, sea urchins
Water Condition Clean

Sandy Beach - South Shore

Surf Location Pass Hanauma Bay, surf is visible from Kalaniana’ole Highway driving east.
Best Swell Direction East
Best Tide Mid-to-low
Best Wind Direction Southwest
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality Very consistent left and right break; can be biggest available summer break
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends, especially with bodyboarders
Boards Ripper
Paddle Out Easy
Skill Level Intermediate and up
Bottom Shallow rocks
Watch Out For… Strong rip current, ultra shallow shore break
Water Condition Clean

East Shore Oahu Surf Spots

The East Coast of Oahu is way less explored by surfers than the other sides. It may be because of the increased population of tiger sharks or the seasonal man-o-war jellyfishes that frequent the area. But there are still a lot of surfers in the water, and there are some really good surf spots. Here are just a few of them.

Goat Island – East Shore

Surf Location After passing through Laie heading towards Kahuku, turn right into the Malaekahana park.
Best Swell Direction East, Northeast, Southeast
Best Tide Mid-to-low
Best Wind Direction Southwest (Kona’s)
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality A super fun left that can get really hollow or rippable depending on conditions. Most of the time it is powered by wind-swell and is surfable almost everyday of the year. The best days are when the wind dies down.
The Surfers Crowded when its going off, but normally pretty mellow.
Boards Ripper
Paddle Out Tough, Really far out on the south side of Goat Island.
Skill Level Intermediate and up
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Sharp reef, strong currents, Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish when trade winds are blowing, sharks.
Water Condition Clean

Chevron’s, Bill’s Bowls, Gutters - East Shore

Surf Location Right offshore from the Chevron gas station in Laie.
Best Swell Direction East, Northeast, Southeast
Best Tide Any
Best Wind Direction Southwest (Kona’s)
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality A series of waves that get really hollow and perfect when those odd east swells come, and the big north swells wrap around. These three surf spots are as good as the North Shore when the conditions get right. Chevron’s is mainly a right. Gutters and Bill’s Bowls are lefts.
The Surfers Mellow
Boards Ripper, round pin
Paddle Out Tough, hard to even see from shore.
Skill Level Intermediate and up
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Sharp reef, strong currents, Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish when trade winds are blowing, sharks.
Water Condition Clean

Boiler’s – East Shore

Surf Location Paddle out from Temple Beach in Laie.
Best Swell Direction East, Northeast, Southeast
Best Tide Mid-to-Low
Best Wind Direction Southwest (Kona’s)
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality Though a fickle wave, when it works it produces a thick and heavy left barrel that can take you in for hundreds of yards. Paddle toward the Island out in the middle of the bay to find it, or jump off Laie Point.
The Surfers Crowded when its going off, but normally pretty mellow.
Boards Ripper, round pin, pintail
Paddle Out Tough, further out than Goat Island.
Skill Level Intermediate and up
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Sharp reef, strong currents, Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish when trade winds are blowing, sharks.
Water Condition Clean

Crouching Lions – East Shore

Surf Location In front of the Crouching Lion Inn near Kahana Bay.
Best Swell Direction East, Northeast, Southeast
Best Tide Mid-to-Low
Best Wind Direction Southwest (Kona’s)
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality Very fun, rippable lefts and rights.
The Surfers Mellow.
Boards Ripper
Paddle Out Tough, very far out.
Skill Level Intermediate and up
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Sharp reef, sharks...there have been several attacks and sightings in recent years.
Water Condition Clean

 

 

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