Are You a Big Wave Surf Fan?
Surfing is a popular water sport statewide no matter which island you live on or visit. But there are only a few beaches that are known for its winter swells. While I DO NOT RECOMMEND surfing at these places at all, it is common for spectators to drop by and watch the pros work their magic from a safe distance!
If you’re interested in learning to surf (once again, please don’t surf at these areas), scroll to the bottom of this post to find out how you can get started on surfing lessons SAFELY.
North Shore, Oahu
This whole stretch of sea from Haleiwa to Waimea is known for its big winter waves. In November and December, try to attend a Vans Triple Crown surfing competition! Waves will reach 40 feet here and each organization does a great job in making sure everyone is at a safe distance.
Local Tip: Sometimes, “The Eddie” surf competition is held if the waves are consistently above 30 feet. If you’re lucky, do not miss the chance to see this tournament – it’s only been held 9 times in the past 3 decades!
Banzai Pipeline (Ehukai Beach)
This beach is famous for its perfectly shaped waves and is the hot spot for surfing. It’s worth it to come and watch the surfers here because the waves are simply beautiful and really do look like a pipe. There are several warning signs here as well as a dedicated lifeguard, so pay attention to both!
Yes, this is that beach in the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ USA” song! Although they pronounce it completely wrong, they got it right that this is a spot for big waves during the winter swells. If you don’t make it to Waimea to see the big wave surfers in the winter, you can still come here to swim during the rest of the year when the waves have calmed down.
Local Tip: There’s a famous large rock here that everyone climbs up and jumps into the ocean from here. You may have seen pictures floating around on the internet about it!
Nicknamed “Jaws” for a reason. Monster waves of 70 feet hit this dangerous beach and is a magnet for exclusive big wave surfers around the world. There are plenty of YouTube videos out there if you want to see how big these waves can get. This spot is purely for spectators only so please do not get anywhere near the water.
Honolua Bay, Maui
“Da Bay’s” waves are extremely fickle, but if you do make it out here, the view you get is fantastic. This place is also a good spot for whale watching if the waves aren’t too rough. Aim to get here by 8 AM to beat everyone else to the very limited parking.
Punalau Beach, Maui
We call Punalau Beach “Windmills” because of (you guessed it!) all of the windmills in this area. It also goes by another name, the “Maui Pipeline” in reference to Oahu’s Ehukai Beach Banzai Pipeline. Excellent wave watching here, too!
Let's Start With Mini Waves
Watching the pros work their magic on these huge waves may be an awe-inspiring moment for you, but maybe you would be more comfortable starting off with baby steps first…
Believe it or not, Waikiki is one of the best places for surf lessons. The waves are consistent and you’re always going to be watched with a careful eye. They even have SUP lessons at Ala Moana Beach Park, right next door.
Local Tip: If you still want that lesson, but want to avoid Waikiki, head to the North Shore for a different surfing experience.