Sunset Beach Oahu
North Shore Oahu
59-104 Kamehameha Highway
Pupukea, HI 96712
Directions By Car From Waikiki
Head west on the H-1 Highway .
Take the exit for the H-2 Highway heading North toward Mililani and Wahiawa.
Take Highway 99 (Kamehameha Highway) and continue into Haleiwa Town.
Merge onto Highway 83, which will lead you to the coastline.
Continue on Highway 83 for approximately 7 miles until you see a Sunset Beach State Park sign on your left hand side.
Limited parking is available onsite.
Further North than the more famous surfing beach, the Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach is an often-missed gem of the North Shore of Oahu. Its 2 miles of sand and multitudes of perfect wave peaks make it a beach loved by locals and tourists alike.
While driving between Waimea Bay and Turtle Bay, Sunset Beach park is one of the only stretches of sand that can be seen from Kamehameha Highway. Beach facilities, such as limited parking and bathrooms, can be found right across the street from the beach.
Due to the sheer size of its sand, the beach is a great place to lounge and escape the crowds of Waikiki. But Sunset beach is not good for beginning swimmers. It’s known for strong rip currents, dangerous lava rock reef and barreling waves in winter. There is a lifeguard on duty from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m daily.
But if you’re just looking for the post-card view or to watch some pro surfers, then this beach is the right spot for you! If you don’t feel like making the long drive from Waikiki yourself. it’s a common destination for some weekday circle-island bus tours of Oahu.
Sunset Beach was originally called “Paumalu”, which means “taken by surprise” in Hawaiian.
According to Hawaiian legend, a woman who was known for her octopus-catching ability was told by an elder to limit her catch. After she caught more than the permitted amount, a shark came and bit her legs.
But as time wore on and people realized that sharks were very rarely seen off of the beach, the stretch of sand was ready for a new name.
In the mid-1920s, a real estate developer sold sections of the sandy area beyond Bonzai Pipeline as high-end real properties. The developer claimed that they were the best locations in the North Shore of Oahu to take in the sunset. That led to the name ‘Sunset Beach’.
Sunset Beach may be good for watching sunsets, but in winter it’s even better for watching surfing.
Not long after it earned its new name, Gene Smith and John Kelly became the first known wave-riders there. In the years since, more and more surfers have risked falling on the area’s dangerous reef to catch the longest wave of their lives.
In the 1950s, vintage surfing movies were often filmed at Sunset beach, putting it permanently on the map as a global surf destination.
Now home to the Pipe Masters and the HIC Pro, Sunset Beach draws in fans from all over the island for its surfing events. Sunset Beach is also one of three famed locations for the renowned Vans Triple Crown surf competition, which is part of the World Cup of surfing.
Fall and winter are the best time to watch surfing. But head out early to catch these events, because parking tends to fill up quickly!
Visit Sunset Beach (And see the rest of Oahu)
Join an Island and You Tour
Island and You: Oahu Bus Tour
Use the code ALTERNATE10 for $10 off!