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. The wave at the Bonzai Pipeline is arguably the most, or certainly one of the most famous surf breaks in the world. This is not just a wave, it is a legend. This is the wave that pro-surfers flock to when the conditions are right. This is not just a big wave to ride, but its hollow tubular shape makes it what many say is the hardest wave in the world to ride. At heights that can approach 40' these waves break in shallow water and reef but the difficulty involved and the adrenalin rush received by simply attempting a ride here brings the most worthy of watermen here during the winter months to challenge the waves and to challenge themselves.
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing takes place every year on Oahu's North Shore and the surfing of the Bonzai Pipeline is always the premier event. Generally held in December the actual days of competition are decided by the size of the waves at a given time. One would naturally think that this would mean that the organizers would be waiting for the biggest day to hold the competition but often the surf here is too big to hold it and they must wait for the giant waves to subside somewhat. As you can expect the Triple Crown is not only exciting but it is dangerous as well and injuries occur regularly.
The Bonzai Pipeline at Ehukai Beach was really not a famous place to surf until the mid sixties or so with the advent of the smaller and more maneuverable surfboards. The longer boards which were the mainstay of previous generations were not suitable for waves such as found at Pipeline and so technology played a hand in the popularity of Ehukai Beach and its famous surf break. Oddly enough, the name of the beach did not come into existence until that time either and the specifics of its origin are somewhat muddled in popular surf lore but it is generally recognized as being a name that somehow came out of a visit to the break by the surf movie making legend, Bruce Brown, who came to film the wave for one of his surf film classics in 1961.
During the summer months all the excitement simmers down and often the area of Ehukai Beach becomes flat as a pancake. Though still offering the possibilities of danger at this time of year, Ehukai Beach reverts to a much more people friendly location and one could hardly imagine a more beautiful beach to lay-out on with deep white sand extending great distances from the surf to the vegetation line. The best bet during these times would be to check in with the lifeguard to understand the conditions of the day and find out where the best spot to enter the water might be.
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.
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.
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.
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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