Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu

Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu

Picture of Grace Towle

Grace Towle

Living on Oahu, Grace Towle knows all the best places where locals go.

Sunset Beach epitomizes its name; the sunsets here are rivaled by none other. Regardless of where you spend your day, do not let your time spent in Oahu expire without a chance to gaze at the retirement of the sun here. The surf at Sunset caters to two personalities: docile in the summer and fierce in the winter. Classified as one of the top surfing spots worldwide, Sunset Beach hosts several competitions during the peak surfing months of November-February.

Photo: HTA / Tor Johnson

Water Sports:

During the winter months, the main activity is that of a spectator. Surf conditions limit the waters to only the highest skilled surfers. Summer, however, produces tranquil waters when the waves flatten out leaving an ideal playground for swimming, snorkeling, kitesurfing and windsurfing. Locals also make sport of cliff jumping, but this is strictly considered an “at your own risk” activity. On any given day, sea turtles and dolphins might make an appearance on the Sunset Beach shore. Not a good swogging beach, there are too many rocks in the water, and the slope of the shore makes it difficult to get a level path.


Tree cover is limited so umbrellas and SPF are recommended.


Ted’s Bakery is a must! From the garlic shrimp to the famous pies, Ted’s bakery never disappoints.


Free parking is available in the lot across from the beach.


Do not attempt to navigate the surf during the winter months as the 30-foot waves are unforgiving. Do not leave valuables unattended, especially in the car, as this area is prone to theft

Fun fact:

The original Hawaiʻian name for this beach was “Paumalu” which means “taken secretly.”

Annual events: 

Sunset Beach served as the original home of the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in 1984 in honor of the legendary Eddie Aikau (now hosted at Waimea Bay Beach). Currently Sunset Beach is the home of the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, along with several other competitions.

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