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Exploring: Island Tours > Oahu > North Shore
The North Shore of Oahu is world famous as the surfing capital of the world. During the winter season, giant swells generated in the north Pacific produce the most consistently spectacular waves in the world. There are a number of popular surf breaks lining the coast. The most famous are the Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay.
During this winter season, the north shore is transformed from a quiet country setting into ground zero for the entire surfing industry. The Hawaiian Triple Crown is held here during December. This is comprised of three contests which traditionally end the professional tour's season.
If you have the opportunity to witness these contests, do so. Nowhere else in the world do you have the chance to see the top surfers riding some of the largest and most beautiful waves on the planet. Add to that the tension of a world championship, and you've got a truly Hawaiian spectacle.
The center of all this energy is a small town named Haleiwa. Here you'll find plenty to do. Naturally there's great shopping for those looking for surf gear. Whether it's boards, clothing or souvenirs, the north shore offers the genuine article. There's also a growing art scene, with galleries featuring world renowned artists as well as local works.
During the summer months, the ocean turns placid and safe, making it a great place for swimming, snorkeling and diving. There is also Waimea Valley, home of beautiful gardens and numerous activities in Waimea Falls Park. The only major hotel in the area is the Turtle Bay Hilton, which serves a cornucopia Sunday brunch with a lovely ocean view. The North Shore's major visitor attractions include:
Sunset Beach: with waves cresting at 15 to 30 feet, and powerful shoreline currents and rip tides, the surf is best left to experienced surfers much of the year. Generally, one of the three Triple Crown Events is held here. During the summer, it's a great beach for the family.
Ehukai Beach Park/Banzai Pipeline: possibly the most famous, beautiful and treacherous wave in the world, the pipeline is an expert-only area in winter. It is good for swimming, boogie-boarding, and body-surfing in the spring and summer though. The wave forms a giant tube when it moves from the deep water on to a shallow coral reef. On days when the waves are 10-15 feet, they will be breaking in 6 feet of water -- challenging and dangerous even to the best surfers.
Pupukea Beach Park: a marine life conservation area that offers good snorkeling and diving at Shark's Cove and Three Tables from May to October.
Pu'u 'o Mahuka Heiau: once the scene of human sacrifice, this ancient temple area is now a quiet spot affording spectacular views of the entire coast.
Waimea Valley and Waimea Falls Park: an 1800 acre valley that is home to one of the finest gardens in the world. Lush with 2500 species of flora from around the world, the gardens are also a wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary. At Waimea Falls Park, visitors can play the sports and games of old Hawaii, watch the resident hula halau perform hula kahiko (ancient hula), and witness amazing cliff-diving performances over the 45-foot high falls. There are also all-terrain vehicle wilderness rides, downhill bike tours, river kayaking, and evenings of moon walks. You can easily spend a day or more exploring the place.
Waimea Beach Park: another legendary surf spot where waves reach 30 feet in winter. The Eddie Aikau Memorial contest is held here. This contest is held only when the surf is at least 20 feet. In summer the bay is calm and great for swimming, diving, and snorkeling.
Haleiwa: a funky kind of place with plenty of character, charm, and creativity. A delightful mix of old and new in its restaurants, shops, and galleries.
If you drive south from Haleiwa, you'll enter the area of Central Oahu, home to pineapple and sugarcane fields, small farms, and new housing developments.
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