In the world of surfing, Oahu’s fabled North Shore is one spot that separates the dudes from the duds, testing their mettle against thundering 30-plus-foot beasts during winter's big-wave season. Yet despite its storied reputation and cheesy surf-movie fame, the North Shore remains refreshingly untouristy. After a few days here, you’ll be living on surfer time.
This sandy crescent at the mouth of the Waimea River was an early hub of big-wave surfing in the 1950s, and continues to host major professional competitions.
In the right conditions, this break curls into an almost impossibly perfect cylindrical wave that’s a marvel to behold even for non-surfers. Nab a spot on the sand to watch the swells roll in, or, if you’re qualified to tackle the wave, beware the razor-sharp reef that punishes those who try and fail.
Like virtually all of the North Shore beaches, Sunset’s turquoise waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling in the summer, but transform into dangerous, expert-only waves come winter.
Shark’s Cove Grill
Order at the bus window, then grab a seat on the covered patio at this permanent food truck that dishes up outstanding local-caught ahi tuna sandwiches, grilled skewers and beautiful salads at locals-friendly prices. Go for lunch, and you’ll want to come back for dinner.
Replenish the calories you’re burning ripping up the waves (or, you know, watching other people rip them) with fresh doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, cream pies and other decadent treats at this Sunset Beach favorite.
Ke Iki Beach Bungalows
Skip the mega-resort up the road in favor of your very own beach cottage. Fall asleep to the rhythmic Pacific serenade, and wake up to step out your door and directly onto the North Shore’s golden sands.