4 Beginner Surf Spots on the North Shore

Originally Published on PACSAFE blog

The North Shore of Oahu has attained legendary status as one of the most talked about coastlines on the planet.  The seven-mile stretch of coastline from Haleiwa to Sunset Beach, colloquially known as the “Seven Mile Miracle” is home to legendary waves like Pipeline, Waimea Bay, Rocky Point, and so much more.

Many people come to test their skills and live the surf bum lifestyle, and even more come to watch the riders in action.  But I have noticed a large portion of people are interested in surfing but feel that the legendary breaks are too overwhelming, opting to watch the pros from the beach instead of jumping in the water themselves.  What these people don’t realize is that although there is an abundance of massive technical waves, there are also a few breaks that are safe for people of all skill levels – even those just starting out.

When the conditions are right, it can be surprising just how clean and easy some of these spots can be, even if it’s giant and barrelling at pipeline or sunset just down the road.  Of course, you must always use your discretion, and judge the currents and conditions every time to make sure it’s safe.  But starting with these spots will hopefully be the beginning of a long love affair with surfing on the North Shore.

Puaena Point (Haleiwa Beach Park)
This wave is the go-to for many surf schools in the area for both it’s proximity to the town of Haleiwa and for the fact that the waves here can be much smaller during big swells than other spots.  It can be crowded on weekends and holidays, but it’s still nothing compared to Southern California or even Honolulu breaks when it’s busy.  To Get Here: Puanea Point is directly north of the parking lot at Haleiwa Beach Park.  Look for food trucks and surf school vans. 

Chun’s Reef
While it can get big here on large swells, Chuns’ is one of those breaks that can pick up smaller waves closer to shore, and have good long rides on days when the swell isn’t massive.  Come here if you don’t mind surfing inside breaks.  When the waves are good it can get crowded, so be sure to respect the pecking order if you are visiting.  To Get Here: Take Kamehameha Highway from Haleiwa toward Waimea Bay.  Look for a white fence where cars are parked.  You will see a small river with a bridge – that is a good spot to head out to the beach.

Kawela Bay
Remember that in Hawaiian the “w” sounds more like a vay.  So if you are asking people how to get to “Ka-vell-ah” bay they will tell you the right way.  This is one of the best spots for getting smaller waves when it’s huge everywhere else.  To get here: Kawela Bay is almost at the top of the North Shore, right before Turtle Bay Resort if driving eastword on Kamehameha Highway.  

Turtle Bay Resort Pool Bar
I tried asking a few people the “official” name for this break, and the closest thing I got to an “official” name was “Pool Bar’s”. Sounds good to me.  This right-hand point break works great in small to medium sized waves. Due to it’s proximity to the northernmost point in Oahu, it picks up wraparound easterly swell from the tradewinds, meaning this wave breaks when the season has died down on other spots only picking up northerly and westerly swell.  The big bonus here is the spectator affair of tourists staying at the hotel.  Even if you aren’t a great surfer, you’ll feel like one with the peanut gallery eagerly looking onward and not knowing the difference between a good and bad surfer.  Also, when you finish your session, you can waltz up to the pool bar to watch other fellow surfers dazzle the crowd and enjoy one of the island’s best Mai Tais.  To get here: Get yourself to Turtle Bay Resort and find the pool.  From there it’s across a small wooden bridge to the paddle out spot.