by Barry Morrison

So, as we depart Honolulu and travel East we leave the last safe haven of Henry Kaiser known as Hawaii Kai, and begin the glorious ascent from the neighborhood of convenience to the true East End of Oahu. The four-minute trip initiated by the pedestrian bridge at Lunalilo Home Road brings us to Hanauma Bay, a significant geological sight to take in, but, leave your surfboards at home. There is no one here to watch your boards. Beyond the bay we come to Bamboo Ridge, a barren outcropping of lava flow from Koko Head Crater. The name comes from all the fisherman that have, and continue to fish from the cliffs in the deep, blue-purple water. Even though fishing poles have evolved thru modern technology the area is still remembered for the locals and their bamboo poles.

The short drive is stunning as the geology of the region is right on you. Check it out, the push from this caldera (Koko Head Crater) is here. The coast road cuts thru the stratification of the lava flow, revealing a rich spectrum of colors that any surfer on any substance will appreciate. Primordial rock on the Mauka side and the blue of the channel on the Makai side of the road. On a clear morning, rounding the bend, you can see the islands of Molokai, Lanai, and beyond, Maui.

All of a sudden we are at the Blow Hole, a tourist stop, but well worth it. Abrupt cliffs, deep water, strong swells, a hole in the shelf, and, bingo, we get big spray.

Alas, from the Blow Hole we look more East to the Sandy Beach area. Very desolate and remote in the fifties and early sixties, this straight away between the Blow Hole and the rise to Makapuu was the place to drag race your Heavy Chevy against the Fast Fords and anything else that showed up. No drinking allowed, yeh, right.

Well, here we are, it's Sandy's. The ultimate roadside attraction beckons you, and we succumb. Hey, this is beautiful, the people look friendly, the ocean is beautiful, and, did you see those girls over there…quick, see if you can find parking.

Sandy's has, and will continue to be the destination for high school and college kids as a place to do your thing with your friends. Welcome to Sandy's Shore break. You are standing on the Eastern corner of Oahu and looking at an area that is wind driven with a swell backing it. The prevailing trade winds or strong East winds produce continuous action on this corner of the island. Taking an East swell, a South- east, and maybe a big South, and with the ideal north winds you will find this surf spot packed with name brand surfers found on the north shore and everyplace else. The shore break is but one facet of this region. Beware to the novice and the skilled. Sandy's will maime and hurt you. There are many recorded incidents of broken necks, spinal injuries, wrist, elbow, knee, and, how about total anatomy mishaps. But, hey, we go! The lifeguards are strong and truthful, ask about conditions and tell them your ability if you have any doubts. Talk to them anyway. And, by the way, I hope you changed clothes and stashed all your valuables in the car while you were back at the Blow Hole, because one is ill advised to make these adjustments in full view of the needy public down the road. Waves from one to eight feet can move in to this zone. An ongoing attraction is the wave action upon the women's bathing suit tops and bottoms that are displaced at random from these unsuspecting ocean participants. YaaHoo!

Sandy's is probably best between two and four feet. Bodysurfing and bodyboarding are both allowed. Outside the shorebreak as a swell increases in size, Middles or Chambers will start to show. It is a deep beach right that can be bodysurfed or bodyboarded. Outside of this is Generals that is a deep water spot that is boardsurfed, bodyboarded, and bodysurfed. Keep in mind that this beach area can hold three hundred people and more in the water. Elbows and assholes. I know someone who broke another guys jaw with the left side of his face on a wave. Both apologized and went in to swell up and get medication. Remember, Sandy's means impact…sand, loose coral chunks, people, and banging yourself with yourself, all for free.

Moving down the beach where the black volcanic rock becomes visible and the point projects we come to Pipelittle. This spot is good up to four feet and then will start to connect with Middles (Chambers) as size increases. Primarily a left break, for bodyboarders and surfers (before and after lifeguard duty for boardsurfers). The knowing waterperson can take the occasional right that peels over the sashimi rocks that protrude everywhere, right or left. Outside of Pipelittle is HalfPoint. This spot is rights and lefts and can connect thru Pipelittle producing a screaming left with boils and barely submerged rocks to greet you as you fly past. A guy who knows his stuff will take off at HalfPoint end at Pipelittle, ride to the shore, walk back up the beach near lifeguard tower #4 B and weave his way thru the rocks out to the lineup for more action.

Further out we come to Fullpoint, another left of some merit. On an exceptionally great day the surf will connect from FullPoint right on thru HalfPoint and Pipelittle.

Just behind us Mauka of the beach is a large grassy area that in years gone by was used for rock concerts. People were having way too much fun so the city put an end to it. Nowadays, kite flying takes over the grassy plain offering visual excitement with colors and movement. Check out the lunch wagon that pulls up daily for that surfer food that gets gravy over everything. Solid.

Up the road a bit we come to Irma's, a spot for the not so hard core, but very challenging with plenty of rocks. Best at three feet and better at five feet Irma's is a left with a right if you are ready for doom and a beating. Next we come to LeftPoint which maxes out at four feet unless you catch it at a super high tide. The next spot up the coast is Alan Davis or A-D's. Rocks and concrete pilings block the way for auto entry so it requires a short walk to this right slide. Good up to five feet with an inside spot called Doubles.

The whole Sandy Beach area has strong currents and you will find yourself always paddling to stay in the lineup. Due to so many rocks, timing is everything when paddling out at all spots. There are stories of fifteen to twenty foot waves from a big East swell in the very early sixties that guys surfed from way outside FullPoint to nearly the Blowhole. Yikes, and no more leashes either. The important thing to remember is "All the chicks go Sandy's".

Leaving Sandy Beach and winding our way around the corner to Makapu'u get ready to pull over at the tourist lookout for a fantastic view of the Windward coast. Shear, green cliffs, blue ocean and islands in the stream is what you will see. Makapu'u provides a long, wide beach that ends at the cliffs of a huge point that wraps back around to Alan Davis the end of the Sandy Beach area. Bodysurfing, bodyboarding, and inflateable rubber mat are used here. The McDonalds brown plastic food tray has been a favorite both here and Sandy's for the guys with no more equipment. The amount of lost swim fins due to being sucked over the falls and explosive impact is great. A local entrepreneur searches the shoreline and dives for single swim fins and sells them from the trunk of his car to those who need. Makapu'u can get ten feet out in the middle of the bay but the average is the two to four foot range. Glassy conditions, southwest or west winds are best. There is a boardsurfing spot on the Rabbit Island side of the parking lot called Suicides for some reason. A right break in front of rocks that has the push of a North Shore wave awaits you. There are several ways to paddle out, depending on tide and swell direction. Beyond this we come to Kumu Cove or Cockaroach Bay just before the marine laboratory pier. A sandy beach with rollers that come in and break and reform again. Family action, small kids and grown ups surfing side by side.

Rabbit Island or Manana Island is directly offshore from Kumu Cove. The paddle out is an easy thirty minutes non stop over a pretty deep trench that is dark blue, making the mind very alert. The reward of making it to this fabulous right is the beauty of the surroundings and waves that come from the North, Northeast from two to ten feet. The take off is near a large suck out ledge that boils then a submerged rock confronts you for your first turn, then the green wall that fans and bends around the corner. Looking in toward the distant shore you left three hours ago one realizes it may take me longer to go in than coming out. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. While paddling in you do envy the guys that arrived in their boats with food, water, shade and no doubt, beer.

A fine story was written by Ted Gugelyk that appeared in the first Surfer's Journal about his Rabbit Island surf adventure.

There are spots on the outside reef of Waimanalo but you've got to live there to know when it is good. All of Waimanalo Beach on thru Bellows Beach is fun shorebreak for bodyboarding, bodysurfing and surfing. Beware of the Portuguese Man of War jelly fish with its blue bag and blue tentacles blown in by the tradewinds.

To get to Lanikai you travel thru Kailua town and go beachside to the East. Off shore in Lanikai are the twin islands called the Mokuluas. Looking out to the island on the left we see a right hander peeling. This paddle out is just like the one we just did at Rabbit Island except it is not as deep. This spot is called Wraps and breaks well up to about six feet with a Northeast swell. West winds are best but very rare. Glassy is great. Some of the residents paddle out in their four man canoes with their boards strapped on or in tow.

Kailua has an outside reef that holds many secrets. If you live there they get told to you.

On the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station at the end of Kailua Bay are several spots but a military ID card is required for access. North Beach is open to active duty Marines only. Previously open to anyone with an ID card. Base commander decision. North Beach (sandbar city) is similar to surfing Ehukai at the North Shore. The angle of the beach allows a full North swell to march right in. Good at two to four feet, maybe five, max. The Kailua side of the beach has sort of a point break that can be ridden up to eight feet. Pyramid Rock is on the opposite end of the beach. Civilians are allowed on this corner of the beach only on Sundays. A left\right combo up to four to six feet as the waves come in and mutate around the rock. Glassy, South, Southwest, West winds are best.

Outside reefs in Kaneohe Bay hold secrets too.

Way up the coast at Kualoa Point near Chinamann's Hat or Mokoli'i there is an outside left that just waits for southwest winds or west winds. It picks up the big North swell wraps as well as the Northeast swells.

Moving along the coast heading north we can see the ocean but access is thru residential farming areas. More outside reefs that require a boat,
glassy conditions, and a big Northeast swell.

Crouching Lion surf spot is visible from the highway where you will park. Very deceptive from shore as to true wave height, it always looks smaller than it really is. A good long paddle takes you to this screaming right that breaks over a shelf. Be prepared for a demanding take off and a pull in tube ride or a good thrashing. Two to five feet is the range and watch the tide.

Kahana Bay and the points on either side , mainly the right has a lot to offer but you have to live there or drive by at the right time. More outside reefs require a boat to explore all the way to Pounders Beach. Now, how did it get that name? Heavy hits while bodysurfing that's how. Two to four feet is fine, but with the right swell direction bigger waves are ridden.

PCC's across the road from the Polynesian Cultural Center is the freight train smoking left on the Windward side. From two feet to ten feet get ready for a fiercely demanding push on your equipment and soul. You will make the sections and bowl areas or you won't. When it is big and breaks outside then doubles up beware, not good to be caught inside. A fair paddle out but not to far. Respect the locals and wait for your turn, it will come when they have had enough or you are obviously in the pit and they hoot. Try not to blow it on your first wave.

Up the road we arrive at La'ie Beach. Looking out and to the left you see Goat Island or Moku'auia. A walk down the beach to the point and a fair paddle to the lefts can bring some fun. Two to four feet, maybe bigger, all depends on tide and wind. We are near the Northeastern tip of Oahu where the winter swells can wrap to the island--way cool.

Driving to Kahuku we pull over to the public golf course, and, hey! Get waves outside. Seventh Hole. Four to eight feet, rights and lefts, mostly rights. Excellent wave with glassy or South winds., lotsa current. Best when wind is favorable and tide not too low. Two to six feet is a good range.

From here over you have entered the North shore and left the East behind you.



RSS Oahu Surf

  • EHUKAI reported 0-1 ft at 2:30 PM HST.
    Wind is E 10-15.
  • MAKAHA reported 2-3 ft at 2:30 PM HST.
    Wind is W 10-15.
  • MAKAPUU reported 3-5 ft at 2:30 PM HST.
    Wind is ENE 20-25.
  • SANDY BEACH reported 6-8+ ft at 2:30 PM HST.
    Wind is ENE 10-15. SHORE BREAK
  • WAIKIKI reported 6-8+ ft at 2:30 PM HST.
    Wind is ENE 10-15. CANOES
  • SUNSET reported 1-2 ft at 7:30 AM HST.
    Swell direction from the NNW. Wind is ENE 10-15.
  • DIAMOND HEAD reported 8-12 ft at 7:30 AM HST.
    Swell direction from the SSW. Swell period is 15 seconds. Wind is ENE 12-14. COR
  • Surf Forecast for Oahu
    NOTE: Please check with local authorities regarding beach closures. Surf along north facing shores will be 3 to 5 feet today, lowering to 1 to 3 feet Friday. Surf along east facing shores will be 2 to 4 feet through Friday. Surf along south facing shores will be 2 to 4 feet today, rising to […]
  • Oahu Surf Hazards
    No high surf advisory or warnings.