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The Best Surfing Locations in Oahu


Hawaii is a state known for its unique heritage and surfing plays a huge role. Surfing is one of the most popular recreations today. This thrilling activity is done by riding sea or ocean waves by standing or lying on a surfboard. 


Many people love surfing, and science can prove why. The endorphins, adrenaline, and serotonin combined with dopamine people receive from surfing create an unexplainable reward that makes surfers feel good and want more. 


Do you know where this recreational sport originated? 

You guessed it! – Polynesia.


The first references to surfing were found in cave paintings of people riding on waves from the 12th century. The Polynesians are known to be great seafarers. Through their sea travels, they were able to bring surfing to Hawaii, where it became viral. 


At present, many Oahu circle island tours offer experiences where you can see surfers at some of these iconic surf spots. Oahu is definitely the place to be if you are interested in witnessing epic surf competitions with waves reaching up to 40 feet tall! Talk about an extreme sport that is extremely dangerous for the surfers involved and very fascinating to witness nature at its fiercest.


The best time of year to catch a glimpse of this kind of action is during winter months because the ocean conditions are more ideal for surfing. In addition to being able to observe these majestic waves, you can also acquire some valuable information about the sport itself and its history from one of the tour guides who will accompany your group throughout most tours.


Not only is surfing a recreational activity, it also plays a significant role in the religion of Hawaiians. Religious rituals are practiced, from the tree selection to the shaping of the surfboard. This ceremony is performed to seek protection and secure the Gods’ goodwill. Everybody surfed – men, women, children, kings – but there was a strict rule system that regulated who could surf on which spot.


Where to Surf in Hawaii? 

Hawaii is composed of eight islands, one of which is Oahu. This island is the third largest among the eight and is known as ‘The Gathering Place.’ Oahu boasts some of the best surfing locations in the world.


North Shore

Are you looking for the perfect waves? Then you have come to the right place! 


Stretching for more than seven miles, Oahu’s North Shore is a legendary Hawaiian surf mecca that offers towering, glassy winter waves. North Shore also hosts some of the world’s premier surfing competitions during peak winter months. 


There are so many surf beaches on Oahu’s North Shore that it’s hard to keep track of them all! 


Here are some of our favorites:


  • Sunset Beach

Home to the ever-famous Triple Crown Surfing, Sunset Beach is a perfect place for professional and aspiring surfers for its big waves. This beach is a two-mile stretch of sand located at 59-104 Kamehameha Highway in Pupukea. 


There are reputable surf instructors located on the North Shore Sunset Beach if you are just starting to learn to surf and even first timers. 


Travelers visiting Sunset Beach can also have an awesome time swimming, especially during summer. Just remember to look out for lifeguards on duty and swim between the flags. We always advise you to speak to the lifeguard before jumping in the water because there may be an under current that is not visible from the surface. If there is no lifeguard at the beach you want to go swimming we advise against it.


  • Waimea Bay

Located in Haleiwa, you can expect big deepwater waves in Waimea Bay. This area is known for its open water power and size, specifically during winter when the waves can go as high as 30 feet. Hence, only experts are encouraged to surf during that time. 


But during summertime, the water of Waimea is calm, making it ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.


You might also be interested in visiting nearby tourist attractions, such as the Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens. You can check out Go Tours Hawaii’s Waimea Botanical Garden tour if you want to do a day tour that stops there to swim in the waterfall.


  • Banzai Pipeline

Looking for waves that are both awe-inspiring and treacherous? Go visit the Banzai Pipeline. This shallow, ragged, and dangerous reef is perfect for professional surfers. 


Like Waimea Bay, the waves of Banzai can also reach up to 30 feet high during wintertime. You can still swim at this beach in winter, but it is best to go during the summer when the water is calmer. 


Waikiki Beaches

If you want to be close to the main city and have surfing as an option, visit Waikiki Beach. Home of the most popular tourism hub in Hawaii, Waikiki can be busy and booming with people. Its neighbors include Kakaako, Chinatown, and Kaimuki. The area has many restaurants, shops, and places of entertainment that you can visit after a good surf session on the most famous beach. 


One particularly favorite surf spot in Waikiki is called Ala Moana Bowls AKA: Bowls. Waikiki’s main attraction to long, hollow, draining barrels and high-performance surfing is Ala Moana Bowls. This area is known to be one of the premier waves in Honolulu. Ala Moana Bowls is an exposed reef break that has consistent surf that advanced and expert surfers would definitely love. If you decide to surf in this area, summer offers the most favorable conditions. 


For beginner surfers, Waikiki beach is actually a great place to start, with many surf instructors available there.


West Side

Locally known as the West Side, Kauai’s Leeward coast is a geologist’s dreamland. This area has breathtaking landscapes, rolling white beaches, vast canyons, deep rivers, and desert land. Unlike the east part of the island, this area only experiences about 10% of the rainfall each year, making it mostly sunny days on the West Side. 


Aside from having a gorgeous landscape, the west side offers excellent spots for surfing, like Makaha. Just be aware that the sand can be extremely hot on a sunny day and perhaps bring water shoes for a better experience. 


  • Makaha

This town is located along the Pacific coast, west of Makaha Valley, and at the foot of Mt. Kaala. It is famous for its surfing waves reaching up to 25 feet high breaking off Makaha Point. 


With its numerous beaches that sport big and thrilling waves, Hawaii has proven to be a true surfing haven. If you’re looking for a vacation spot with lots of variety, then the island of Oahu is the perfect place for you. The island has so much going on that it’s hard to decide where to start. You can go on a day tour of the island and explore it all with the help of a local guide. From there, you can decide which beach is calling your name.


Beaches are amazing, but they aren’t the only thing Hawaii has to offer. 


This island takes pride in the various activities you and your loved ones can try. 


Want to have a relaxing stroll and swim in a waterfall? Checking out Hawaii’s Hidden Gems – Waimea Botanical Gardens


Seeking to explore and enjoy serenity? Check out Hawaii’s Hidden Gems – Byodo In Temple. Exploring history? You can visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial or Iolani Palace. 


Want to connect with nature and agriculture? Visit the exclusive one-of-a-kind Dole Farm Tour. Seeking adventure? You can go snorkeling with turtles or dolphins!


Hawaii can offer you the best of many worlds. If you want to check these out, visit Go Tours Hawaii.


Have Fun in the Surfing Mecca with Go Tours Hawaii

Go Tours Hawaii is a local tour operator specializing in Oahu tours. Our primary goal is to make our clients experience an authentic Hawaiian experience by bringing the aloha spirit wherever we go. 


Our friendly tour guides will take you to the best of the best Hawaiian experiences we have to offer in Oahu and make sure you have everything you need the entire time.


Want to know more about us? Visit our website at or check out some other articles: