The North Shore of Oahu boasts the Mt. Rushmore of pro-surfing venues—Pipeline, Haleiwa, Sunset Beach and Waimea Bay—where real-life beach boys and girls ride unreal waves. The shore also has a few dozen other named surfing breaks. The place is Surf City, Planet Earth.
When epic surf rolls in, 25-feet and up (way up) you won't see anything like Waimea Bay. Breaking surf closes out the mouth of the bay, the kind of waves that make beachcombers tremble—and make the best surfers of the world paddle out to meet the challenge.
On normal days, Waimea has a big swath of sand, nice park amenities, and a wide stream that creates a pool at the shore. The Waimea Valley Arboretum and Botanical Garden lies just inland.
The shorebreak can be huge, the main event on some days. But the real surfing action is at the bay's mouth. You can park at the church (pictured above) and take a ringside seat on the bluff.
Yearly—but only if surf is 30 feet or so—Quiksilver surf company hosts a big-wave surfing event in the name of the great Eddie Aikau. Surfers fly in from around the world at the spur of the moment. Aikau was a North Shore legend waterman (lifeguard) and surfer, who heroically gave his life in an attempt to save the life of crew mates on the maiden voyage of the Hokulea (authentic Hawaiian sailing outrigger) when the craft was disabled in a storm. Aikau was lost at sea, as he left the boat on a surfboard to get help. The crew survived.
Throughout the Islands you'll see "Eddie Would Go" bumper stickers.
The scene changes on the north end of the North Shore. Snorkeling is excellent at several wild beaches.
Anchoring this part of the North Shore is the Turtle Bay Resort, with condos, a golf course, trails, and lots of open spaces.
Oahu Trailblazer has all the deets on the notorious North Shore, a place that is really down to earth.