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 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.
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.
Beautiful sandy beach scene at Ehukai Beach
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
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.
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.
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 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
Enjoy a day on the beach at Waimea Bay
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