Sunset Beach


The most famous coastline for big wave surfing in the world is the 7 mile stretch of beaches and intermittent rocky shore known as the "North Shore" of Oahu. One of the most famous beaches along this shore is Sunset Beach. This long beach is the widest beach on Oahu spanning a full 200' during the summer months. When the big waves come in the winter the sand retreats to the sea but the beach still remains wide by normal beach standards.

The Wide Soft Sands of Sunset Beach

The Wide Soft Sands of Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach is known for its enormous wintertime surf which can range in the twenty-foot plus range. Of all the waves along this shoreline the waves at Sunset Beach are best known for maintaining their amazing hollow-wall shape even when other North Shore locations have closed out. The perfect shape and immense size of these waves have made it famous the world over and it is usually the site of one of the three major prongs of the triad of events known world over as the Triple Crown of Surfing. Though the dates can vary, the Sunset Beach portion of the competition is usually held somewhere between late November to early December.

The Waves at Sunset Beach are Calm during the Summer

The Waves at Sunset Beach are Calm during the Summer

The powerful waves found at Sunset Beach in the winter-time are spread over three separate break locations. The first two are powerful right breaks known as the "Point" and "The Main Reef" and Sunset Beach also provides a left break at "Backyards". The perfect barrels that can be seen here are amazing to watch but are so dangerous that only professional surfers should be out in these waters at this time of the year. The power of the waves is obvious but what might not be as obvious are the shallow reefs that prop the wave up and are mostly responsible for their shape. Injuries are commonplace here but the adrenaline level and risk tolerance of these amazing athletes keeps them coming back year after year to immerse themselves in the thrill that is Sunset Beach. The fact that people compete here on this level is even more remarkable given that these waves are so large and powerful that they weren't even considered ride able (at least for the record) until the mid 1950's. The full scope of the deadliness of waves of this size was driven home to the Oahu populous in 1943 when two well known surfers went out to brave Sunset Beach during a big swell and the waves were so large that they could not make it back in. They paddled the three mile distance over to Waimea Bay hoping for an easier exit but only one of the two managed to make it to shore. The other was never found.

A Dog Surfing at Sunset Beach

A Dog Surfing at Sunset Beach

Oddly, Sunset Beach does a complete flip in the summer months and creates a bathers paradise. The summers on Sunset Beach can be completely flat at times and are suitable for swimming and ocean sports (even in the summer time there is something referred to by the lifeguards as the Sunset Riptide which is very strong so all would be advised to speak to the lifeguards even during the summer before entering the water to make certain the conditions are safe at the time). The fact that the beach provides two-miles of luscious, wide and uninterrupted sand makes it all the more attractive. There are probably very few beaches in the world that rival the beauty and appeal of Sunset Beach in the summer months. Even when it is busy there always seems to be enough room for more to come and enjoy. Parking can of course become a problem but the sheer length of the beach allows for more opportunities to find a space along the side of the road than other North Shore beaches like Waimea Bay. Regarding parking however, all bets are off on days when there are big swells or competitions during the winter and on these days you would be well advised to drive up to the beach before the break of dawn because the traffic jams found at these times become quite literally "grid lock".

Ocean Caution

Please be advised that all beaches and ocean locations in Hawaii can be potentially dangerous including this location. Be completely aware of the ocean conditions prior to entering the water and of course, never turn your back on the ocean when you are on the shoreline. It should also be noted that all shorelines and beaches in Hawaii, including this one, can be frequented by sharks, jellyfish and other sea creatures which can provide potential harm to people entering the water.

Ocean Caution




Oahu Beaches

Ala Moana Beach Park is located equidistant between Honolulu and Waikiki and consists of a large park and two beaches, Ala Moana Beach and Magic Island.

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Bellows Beach is one of the best beaches to be found along Oahu's south eastern shores. It is not particularly wide but it is very long and the quality of sand, although somewhat rougher, is comparable in color and cleanliness to beaches like Lani Kai.

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There is no question that Hanauma Bay is an excellent place to snorkel. Unfortunately it, unlike any other snorkeling spot in the State of Hawaii, costs money for an admission charge and costs money for a parking fee.

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Hukilau Beach in Laie on the north-eastern coastline of Oahu is a beach that in an odd way provides a tribute to the multicultural nature of the island of Oahu.

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One of the few beaches that has the look and feel of old Oahu is Kahana Beach on Oahu's windward coastline. The fact that this beach is located in a section of the island that is normally simply a gateway for island visitors to pass by on their way to visit what are presumably more spectacular attractions is the saving grace of Kahana Beach Park.

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Without question, the most popular beach on the windward side of Oahu is Kailua Beach, and with good reason. This large expanse of white sand beach is simply "drop-dead" gorgeous and is the perfect location for water sports and beach activities.

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The Ko'Olina Resort area located on Oahu's west-facing coast boasts a total of four almost identical looking, side-by-side man-made lagoons. If you're an ocean purist and like your beaches created by the hand of nature, you're out of luck at these beaches.

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Kualoa Beach Park is both a beach and a park with perhaps a heavier emphasis on being a park. The beach itself is extremely narrow having eroded over the years but the grass portion of the park is extremely wide.

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Lanikai is a delightful and secluded "bedroom community" isolated from the windward town of Kailua by a ridge that allows access to the coastal homes only through one entry point.

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Makapu'u Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches to be found on Oahu. It is located at the very eastern tip of the island at the base of tremendous sea cliffs providing a spectacular back drop.

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You know it's a big wave when the sand you're sitting on at the beach shakes like an earthquake when the waves pound the shoreline. Welcome to the "Bonzai Pipeline" at famous Ehukai Beach on Oahu's North Shore.

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Forgive me for this but the following descriptions regarding Sandy Beach on the south shore of Oahu may to seem a bit more like a "rant" than a description of a beach.

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Sans Souci Beach is a small but beautiful beach with a big history. This lovely white sand beach is in Kapiolani Park just about a fifteen-minute walk from Waikiki.

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Shark's Cove on the North Shore of Oahu is not really a beach, but rather a snorkel and diving spot; and what a snorkel spot it is! This small cove is ringed in rocks and coral providing very little in the way of sand to lay out on, but if you are looking for a great place to snorkel, Shark's Cove is, at many times of the year, an excellent option.

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Waikiki Beach is certainly the most famous beach in all of Hawaii and is a probable contender for the most well known beach in the world. This of course, was the beach where it all started regarding tourism in Hawaii.

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Waimea Bay on Oahu's famed North Shore is home, in the winter time, to a wave that is so large that no one had successfully surfed it until the late 1950's.

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Yokohama Bay is the large stretch of beautiful white sand that extends up to the Kaena Point area of western Oahu. Yokohama Bay is truly amazingly beautiful.

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Related Information

A listing of all Oahu Beaches can be found on these pages. Check for the Oahu Beach that will be perfect for you!

It's a good thing you're going to the beach on Oahu! Not only does Oahu have some of the most beautiful beaches in the state, have some of the best snorkeling to be seen in the state, have some of the best surfing, kayaking and stand-up paddling locations in the state and some of the largest waves for you to watch in the state, but Oahu beaches have more lifeguard locations and more lifeguards all toll than any other island in the State of Hawaii.

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