The towering North Shore waves start here in Waimea Bay. The winter swells that roll into the famous Oahu North Shore beaches, generally top out at Waimea Beach Park , on the right hand side of the bay. Surfing Waimea Bay, along with Sunset Beach and the Banzai Pipeline, is considered almost a pilgrimage among many pro-surfers that fly in from all around the world to partake in the daring action. The fun generally begins when the National Weather Service issues high surf warnings for the North Shore. Waimea Beach Park is located just past Haleiwa Beach, and across from Waimea Falls Park .
Waves generally start around 10 to 20 feet in height and sometimes jump up to 30 feet plus – that is a measurement from the backside of the wave. The front side peak usually measures twice as high! Imagine riding down a 60 ft face wave!
Waimea Bay is an exhibition playground for big-wave riders, including Hawaiian surfing legends like Eddie Aikau, Greg Knoll, Ken Bradshaw, and Laird Hamilton. Andy Irons, a three-time world surfing champion who recently passed away often competed here.
Waimea Beach Park, from the hillside, is a great spot for spectators to view daring surfers play with death defying rides. Wiping out on these waves can be extremely hazardous to your health and life as we know it!
The waves become so monstrous at times, that they roll past the bone yard of boulders and rocks and spill onto the roadside above, which usually leads to beach and road closures.
Visiting Waimea Bay Beach Park during the summer is like driving up to a completely different North Shore Beach scene. The waves go flat and the waters remain calm, surfers are scarce, and all the keikis (kids) and families takeover the Oahu beaches and ocean waters.
Join the local kids swimming out to “Da Big Rock”, located just off shore on the left hand side. The idea is to climb up 30 feet, build up your confidence, and take a leap of faith! Most people take a running start before they soar off the edge and into the deep blue ocean below.
You will also find a lot of kids playing around in the Waimea River that sometimes gets carved out by the locals, helping release river water back into the ocean. The Waimea River then becomes perfect tube ride back to the ocean, creating another summer fun thing to do on the North Shore.
Take precaution entering the ocean at Waimea. The shallow shoreline drops off quickly - a good 20 feet plus deep! There are no fish in the area, but it can be a humbling experience to bring a mask & snorkel to just check out the deep blue ocean, giving you a feeling of the abyss.
Also be careful of the shoreline breaks, which could be very powerful and dangerous when present. Always ask the lifeguard about beach conditions and which part of the beach would be best for the activity you would like to do.
From Waikiki , take the H-1 Freeway headed West…
Take the H-1 Hwy West to the H-2 Hwy North
Follow the H-2 Hwy to the Kamehameha Hwy (hwy 99)
Take Hwy 99 and continue into Haleiwa Town
Or bypass Haleiwa Town, and continue on Hwy 99 and merge onto Hwy 83, which will lead you to the coastline.
As you continue on Hwy 83, keep going until you see a Waimea Bay Beach Park sign on your left hand side.
Turn into the parking lot and you are there!
Take the 98A bus from Kuhio Ave to the Wahiawa Armory (ask the bus drive to notify you), and transfer to Oahu Bus number 88A. The Oahu Bus 88A will take you into Haleiwa Town and onward to the North Shore Beaches. Ask the bus driver once again to notify you once you have arrived at Waimea Bay Beach Park .
Ehukai Beach – more popular known as the Banzai Pipeline! If the surfing action isn’t close enough for you at Waimea Bay , then head up the road to Ehukai Beach and watch surfers dropping into perfect barrels, that will feel like watching a 3-D movie.
The Banzai Pipeline curling waves are world renown and play a big part in the North Shore experience. The trick to finding Ehukai Beach , is looking for the Sunset Elementary School , which is located right across the street.
Old Town Haleiwa – before heading off to Waimea Bay Beach you might want to stop in the old town Haleiwa to checkout the North Shore rustic surf shops, local art galleries, enjoy a Matsumoto’s Hawaiian shave ice, and grab some lunch to take with you to the beach.
Also consider stopping at Haweiwa Joe’s or Cholo's for dinner, before making the journey back to town.
Waimea Falls Park – Extend your day of North Shore fun with a family stroll that ends at this stunning Oahu waterfall. The walking trail is set along some beautiful botanical gardens as you make your way towards the Waimea Falls.
This Best of Oahu waterfall is located directly across from Waimea Bay.
Make sure to bring your bathing suit so you can swim up to the ledgendary Waimea waterfall. Changing rooms and life jackets are on site, as well as lifeguards on duty. Also spend a little extra time to check out the Hawaiian cultural activities as you enter the Waimea Valley estates.