Oahu’s North Shore has shot to fame as a big-wave surfing mecca, as well as a Hollywood backdrop in movies from Forgetting Sarah Marshall to Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Its 11 kilometres of sand are the home of Hawaii’s big winter waves (November to February), including the deadly Banzai Pipeline at Ehukai Beach, with swells up to nine metres that break on coral reefs. You can watch the pro surfers tackle the big waves during the Vans Triple Crown event each November, from such spots as Alii Beach Park on the west side of the Haleiwa Boat Harbour, or take up viewpoints along Waimea Bay or Sunset Beach.
More tranquil waves can be found during summer (May to September), so it’s a good time for beginners to hit the surf. The North Shore is about a one-hour drive from Waikiki. Make a stop in Haleiwa Town, where you can shop, eat like a local, and cool off with a shave ice.