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What You Need to Know about the Banzai Pipeline
Find out why the Ehukai Beach Park in Oahu’s North Shore is called the “Banzai Pipeline”, and why surfing it is something you have to try at least once.
If you’re a newbie to surfing, you may wish for the most challenging waves that can give you ultimate surfing experience. You can find those waves on the North Shore of Oahu, where the 7 miles of beaches offer huge waves during the months of November until February. Among these beaches is the legendary Ehukai Beach Park. It’s considered one of the best beaches in the area, and it’s particularly known for its huge waves.
Here’s a lowdown on what you can expect:
During the summer months here, the waters are flat and the conditions are ideal for snorkeling. But when November comes, the surfboards come out while surfers converge on the beach from all over the world. Here they hold the Billabong Pipeline Masters, which makes up the final part of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing contest. It’s usually held between the 5th and 25th of December, depending on the Surf Report.
The waters here can rise up to 30 feet high, and they push off an extremely shallow reef. This combination results in truly perfect waves that create barrels that calls to every surfer who wants to try their skills (and their luck). This can be dangerous, which is why some of the more experienced surfers are content to just watch from the shore. Every year, hundreds of surfboards are broken and sometimes you have broken bones as well. There’s even the risk of death (much like motorcycle and car racing), so it’s understandable if you just want to watch. When you’re just 40 yards away from the action, it can still be that exciting.
How to Get to the Banzai Pipeline
First you fly a plane and get to Waikiki. From there, take the following route if you’re going to drive:
- Take the H-1 Hwy West then follow to the H-2 Hwy North
- This will take you to Hwy 99 (Kamehameha Hwy) which gets you straight to Haleiwa town.
- You can bypass the town and continue on Hwy 99 and then merge onto Hwy 83. This gets you to the coast line.
- Drive on until you get to Ehukai Beach Park.
The drive should take about an hour. You can also take the bus instead, especially if you’re not bringing a surfboard.
- You can get to Kuhio Ave in Waikiki where you can board the 98A or 52 bus. Ask the driver to tell you when you get to the Wahiawa Armory, so you can disembark and switch to the Oahu Bus number 88A.
- The Oahu 88A bus gets you all the way to the town of Haleiwa, and then past that along the various North Shore beaches. Ask the driver to tell you when the bus arrives at the Ehukai Beach Park.
Amenities at the Ehukai Beach Park
You’ll find the usual amenities here. The parking area is free. There are beach showers and restrooms, and then you can find shady trees, grassy areas, and some picnic bench tables.
Other Attractions in the Area
Once you’re there at the Banzai Pipeline and you’ve had your fill of big-wave surfing, you don’t need to go just yet. You may as well visit the other attractions in the general area. These include:
- The Turtle Bay Resort. You can just get a room here instead, if you suddenly wish to visit the Banzai Pipeline and the other North Shore beaches every day. It’s right in front of the beach.
- Ted’s Bakery. If it’s time for a meal, it may be time to visit this place. With Teri beef, barbeque chicken and mahi mahi meals, you can fill up and then head out for another great adventure at the beaches. But you can’t leave without trying the crème pies.
- Sunset Beach. Here’s an alternative beach to visit when the Banzai Pipeline gets a bit too crowded. You just have to drive 5 extra minutes up the road, then enjoy 2 miles of gorgeous sand and amazing waves,
- Ehukai Pillbox Hike. When you’re in the mood for hiking, cross the street from Ehukai Beach to take this rather obscure hike. It takes half an hour to climb the top hillside ridge, where you can find WWII bunkers with great views of the North Shore coastline.
The Banzai Pipeline is amazing, but the truth is that the whole North Shore area is truly a wonder. A visit here is part of many surfers’ bucket list, so take the time cross it off your own list!
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