The most famous, and arguably the most dangerous, surf site in all of Hawaii is the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu. The world-renowned Banzai Pipeline is just west of ‘Ehukai Beach Park in Pupukea. We never did happen upon any sign announcing the Banzai Pipeline or ‘Ehukai Beach Park (the public access point to the celebrated surf site). What we did come across were lots of cars parked along the road and packed into the parking lot of what seemed to be an unsigned beach, across from Sunset Beach Elementary School, off of Kamehameha Highway, on the North Shore of Oahu. That’s exactly where our friendly lunchtime server at Hale’iwa Eats Thai told us we would find what the locals call “Pipeline Beach”. As confusing as all that sounds… the celebrated Banzai Pipeline with its epic waves is an absolute must-see if you are on Oahu!
You probably won’t want to head out into the water in the winter unless you are an expert surfer. That’s the time of the Banzai Pipeline’s most towering wave heights (up to 20+ feet). Swimming is hazardous in the fall and winter months, so feel free to scope out the perfect place to spread out your beach towel, settle in, and enjoy the thrilling spectacle that is the Banzai Pipeline.
The spring and summer boast a wider, gentler sand beach at ‘Ehukai Beach Park, and then the crystal blue water is often just right for swimming.
Any time of year is perfect for beachcombing on the sandy shore of “Pipeline Beach”. You may find a few treasured shells and beach glass, but the real beach treasure here is snail opercula. An operculum (meaning “little lid”) is the structure that serves as a little trap door, closing off the opening of a snail’s shell. These little mineralized pieces are similar to smoothly polished small buttons. Like mini, ivory-colored worry stones!
~In the Hawaiian language, “puka” means hole, opening, or door. I’m guessing that a case can be made that there are a few “puka” shells in the mix, too!
If you are staying on Waikiki Beach you can easily hop on The Bus and enjoy the ride to the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore. It’s certainly not quicker than renting a car, but it’s way cheaper and a great way to see the beautiful Island of Oahu while you sit back, relax, and let someone else do the driving.
See you at the Banzai Pipeline! Aloha!