Banzai Pipeline Oahu (Big wave action, surfing competition in winter, calm waters in summer)

Banzai Pipeline Oahu (Big wave action, surfing competition in winter, calm waters in summer)

The Banzai pipeline in Oahu is known throughout the world as the legendary waves of the North Shore in Oahu. The winter season brings up these monster waves with barreling waves that are dramatic and surfers flock to the area for the spectacle and competition that focuses on these amazing waves in the area. The waves formed curl high and wide and creating a perfect hollow funnel that is a desired effect with skillful runs inside called tube riding that professionals can ride for a long time and showcase their skills.

The Banzai pipeline is located just offshore Ehukai beach park area at Pupukea and stretches out over 7 miles of beach area which is also the home of Waimea Bay.

During the quieter late spring to summer months the Banzai pipeline is also known as Ehukai beach park and is a calmer beach area that average visitors can enjoy and even swim in the calm waters of Ehukai.

Short history on Ehukai Beach in Oahu

The area above Ehukai Beach was an old Hawaiian settlement with many burial sites and an ancient heiau (temple) called Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau. With the development of the sugar cane industry in the 1840s, the area around Ehukai was a profitable growing area for sugar cane and Ehukai became a plantation town and community

Afterwards it became a military camp from 1927 to 1953 and then changed again in 1961 with the production of a surfing film that targeted the area at Ehukai with its famous surface break and the film was made and creating the instant Pipeline namesake to how the name was coined.

The Superbowl of Surfing competitions

One of the biggest Hawaiian surfing competitions that happens here in the North Shore area is the Billabong Pipeline Masters Surf Competition which is the finale to the Vans Triple Crown Surfing contest that happens at the Banzai Pipeline. Typically slated around December from Dec. 5th to the 25th, this surfing competition that happens in the area is monumental and worth experiencing in person to see how the masters do it best. This is the ultimate surfing competition that happens along the North Shore during the winter season that everyone flocks to watch and enjoy the tube experienced surfers showing their skills. Along with the Pipe Masters, Pipeline also hosts two other important surf events each year—the Volcom Pipe Pro and the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout 

Waves during this timeframe in the North Shore can get as high as 20 to 30 feet in height until they create their tubing effect into the shallow waters of Ehukai.

With no idea of when the actual big waves will hit the North Shore area, most visitors stick to watching the surf reports happening in the North Shore area and immediately head out to the Banzai Pipeline the minute the surfing contest is good to go.

The wave action here is dramatic with the winter swells bringing up picture perfect waves that roll out into the shallow waters and reef area and creating these rideable waves that are iconic for surfers to experience and are a pro surfers’ dream.

The entire program under the Vans Triple Crown Surfing contest lasts anywhere from 2 to 3 months and takes place over 3 of the major surfing spots or the North Shore during this time fame.

Even non pro surfers flock to the area along the North Shore to seek out their own wave inspiration and their chance to surf the famous Banzai pipeline.

During the winter season Ehukai beach is packed wall to wall with visitors to the area to watch all the big wave action that literally can happen just in front of them less than 40 feet out into the ocean area.

The Superbowl of Surfing competitions

The Pipeline Effect

The swells that happen along the North Shore typically occurs from October to March timeframe and creates west and Northwest swells that create the left breaking Pipeline effect.

There is another effect from North and Northwesterly swells that create the Backdoor effect. Both swells create the Pipeline and Backdoor effect on solid Northwesterly trades. The predominant winds in winter tend to happen in a Northeasterly pattern and trade which creates the clean tubing pipeline.

Finding the perfect wave and tube to ride happens more on the left side pipeline for a longer ride and spits out into the channel area. Right side rides are more fickle to exit from, unpredictable and can close out early and dumping surfers onto the shallow reef area.

With so many hazards at pipeline, it’s no wonder that expert surfers even get knocked around a bit on these waves.

On non surf competition days, people still flock to the North Shore to check out the scene and surfers that are bold enough to try the monster waves.

The Pipeline Effect

Summer time conditions and calm waters at Ehukai Beach

During the summer months, the opposite effect takes place with very calm ocean waters around Ehukai beach. The beach area is more family friendly with swimming and snorkeling fun that is safe to do around the beach park area and some of the best beach areas to visit and enjoy in Oahu.

There are lifeguard stations located in the beach park watching for any problems that may surface, so always make sure to check in with the local life guard to see if everything is fine before you enter into the water and enjoy some fun water activity here.

Summer time conditions and calm waters at Ehukai Beach

Beautiful sandy beach scene at Ehukai Beach

Beautiful sandy beach scene at Ehukai Beach

Ehukai beach is calmer during the summer and safe to swim and snorkel in

Ehukai beach is calmer during the summer and safe to swim and snorkel in

How to get to the Banzai Pipeline and Ehukai Beach

From Honolulu, take the H1 highway to the North Shore until you hit H2 North

Follow the H2 until you see the signs for Hwy 99 (Kamehameha Hwy) and take that directly into Haleiwa town.

Continue on Hwy 99 until it merges directly into Hwy 83 which goes directly to the coastal areas.

Continue on Hwy 83 until you see the signs for Waimea Bay Beach Park and turn left into the parking lot area.

If the parking lot is full, you can just look for street side parking and walk to the beach park area.

Facilities at Ehukai Beach Park / aka Waimea Bay
Facilities at Waimea Bay and Ehukai Beach Park

Facilities at Ehukai Beach Park / aka Waimea Bay

You’ll find most of the park amenities complete here at Ehukai to include the following:

Parking lot area – yes

Toilet and showering areas – yes

Picnic bench and bbq pits – yes

Grassy Park area – yes

Life guard on duty – yes

Tent camping is also allowed with permits to camping here

Other attractions to visit in the area

Along the North shore of Oahu, there’s plenty to see and do in the area if you are looking for outdoor adventure, food experiences or visiting small cute towns like Hale’iwa town.

A visit to waimea-falls

Waimea Falls

Right next to Waimea Bay and across the road is Waimea Botanical Gardens and Falls which is one of the safest and easiest hiking trails to visit the waterfalls and take a swim fronting the falls. You can also explore the gorgeous botanical park and the various gardens in the area.

Check out more to visiting Waimea Falls here for more information.

Enter Waimea Falls directly opposite from Waimea Bay and follow the road to the main parking lot area.

Sharks Cove

Sharks Cove

A family friendly beach area in the North Shore that is a popular spot for snorkeling with protected lagoon areas filled with gorgeous coral, tropical fish and occasional marine life in the area. There’s a nice grassy and beach area along with the tidepools and lagoons to explore here.

Turtle Beach on the North Shore of Oahu

Turtle Beach

Turtle Beach also known as Laniakea Beach fronts the Turtle Bay Resort on the northeastern part of Oahu. The Turtle Bay resort is the only large scale resort area located here in the North Shore but Turtle Beach or Laniakea Beach is open for all the public to enjoy.

The wide expansive beach has a nice sandy beach with snorkeling and swimming as the fun activities that you can enjoy on the beach here.

Check out these other posts on the North Shore of Oahu

Visit the North Shore of Oahu and places to explore

Visit to Haleiwa on the North Shore

Explore and hike Waimea Falls

Enjoy a day on the beach at Waimea Bay

Top things to do in Honolulu

Top things to do in Waikiki now

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Banzai Pipeline Oahu (Big wave action, surfing competition in winter, calm waters in summer)
Banzai Pipeline Oahu (Big wave action, surfing competition in winter, calm waters in summer)

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18 Comments

  1. Manjulika Pramod

    I have great admiration for surfers, how to play around the waves. Its thrilling to watch them do that. I don’t know how to do it but the beach in Oahu looks absolutely inviting. It was interesting to learn about different moods of the water. I think summer is the period when I would love to see the calm ocean waters around Ehukai beach. I did not know about the Billabong Pipeline Masters Surf Competition. I bet it would be so much fun to watch it live. Some day, for sure.

    Reply
    • emorata

      Yes the winter time brings in the big waves and the Banzai Pipeline is just one of those famous natural occurances off the beach areas.

      Reply
  2. Ossama Alnuwaiser

    I have been to Oahu during winter in 2019. I was able to visit Waimea Falls, Banzai Pipeline beach, turtle beach, and many other places. I can agree that the wave is incredibly huge in winter. My brother and II tried to do boogie boarding, but the wave was not in our favor. It could really suck you in. Thus, we decided to stay and watch the surf instead. It was fascinating and scary at the same time. It is incredible how they are able to manage and get their way through the waves.

    Reply
    • emorata

      Wow good for you that were were able to visit the North shore and these attractions in the area

      Reply
  3. Linda (LD Holland)

    I have always thought of surfing when I thought of Hawaii. We certainly would love to watch some surf action when we visit Oahu. It would be great to eat the Banzai pipeline. I guess we will see how the waters look in October. A great reason to head out to the north shore and watch early practices.

    Reply
    • emorata

      Might be a little early but visiting the North shore and the road trip would still be fun to do

      Reply
  4. Umiko

    I’m not a surfer, but I enjoy watching surfing competitions on television. I believe I have watched the one in Banzai Pipeline a few times. The waves look brutal and beautiful at the same time. However, I prefer the summer months to enjoy the beach when it’s calm and safe for people like me.

    Reply
    • emorata

      Yes the Banzai Pipeline is televised all around the world for people that are into surfing or just seeing amazing waves

      Reply
  5. Pilar

    Wow, I would like to experience those big waves by watching them from the beach. I have only surfed once in Bali and I would be very scared and not prepared to ride these big waves but watching the show from a safe place seems pretty enticing. Turtle beach and Waimea waterfall looks very attractive also. I really hope I can visit Hawai and these beautiful places one day.

    Reply
    • emorata

      Yes, the Banzai Pipeline is an amazing experience worth seeing in person if you are in the region.

      Reply
  6. Joanna

    I have a friend who actually went there to watch one of the big surfing competitions. She loves surfing and had an amazing time watching the surfers do their acrobatics on the waves. And no wonder, those waves are insane. I’d love to see a competition there in real life as well.

    Reply
    • emorata

      The Banzai Pipeline in the North Shore is totally insane and just a must watch for the competitions that happen here.

      Reply
  7. grasya

    I saw the video and those were big waves.. i’m not really a fan of big waves considering that I’m from the Philippines which is also surrounded by sea.. but im sure it’s a delight for surfers indeed.

    I do like that there are other tourist attractions like the falls, sharks cove and turtle beach as options for the non surfers. Snorkling sounds fun, maybe there’s an option to freedive too.

    Thanks for giving us a glimpse of what it’s like to live in Hawaii 🙂

    Reply
    • emorata

      People come to see the Banzai Pipeline for the show and seeing this unique experience

      Reply
  8. Jackie

    Wow! It’s hard to comprehend that there is such a drastic contrast in the waves at Ehukai beach throughout the season! I am not someone who surfs, but would definitely want to visit in the winter months just to see those magnificent waves and expert surfers. The terms Pipeline and Backdoor effect are new to me, but it’s easy to see how surfers would love these conditions. Beyond the winter shows, the summer scene looks like a perfect backdrop for a few (or more!) lazy beach days. This is my kinda place! I hope to get the chance to see this incredible force of nature in person. So beautiful!!

    Reply
    • emorata

      Yes winter to summer at the North Shore and places like Ehukai beach is so amazing in contrast and experiences.

      Reply
  9. Iuliana Marchian

    I always have admired surfers and their majestic movements on and under the waves. These beaches in Oahu look like a fairy tale and the videos are a clear proof of the surfers’s paradise. I don’t know if I will ever learn surfing, but sunbathing on those beaches is a must.

    Reply
    • emorata

      Surfers love to flock to big waves and challenges like the Banzai Pipeline in the North Shore

      Reply

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Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.