Ehu Kai Beach Park - Banzai Pipeline
One of the world's most famous big wave surfing locations, this beach park is a mile of light sandy beach connecting to 1.2 acres of grass lands. This mecca of surfing is the center of activity during large northern swells that reach the area generally October through April. In the summer the ocean here calms, and you may snorkel out and view the very same reefs that sculpt and catapult the waves into such powerful breaks. Besides being legendary powerful, the ocean and beach here are equally beautiful and worth visiting during both surf and calm times.
AT A GLANCE:
HIGHLIGHTS: A mile of white sand beach in either direction, with world-class surfing during north and northwest ocean swells, calm and swimmable during summer months, with amazing sunsets.
ACTIVITIES: Swimming, body surfing, body boarding, expert surfing, fishing, walking, jogging, sunbathing, surf watching.
LIFEGUARD: YES 9am to 5:30 pm, 7 days a week.
WARNINGS!: Surf and current conditions here can be deadly during big wave episodes. Look for warning flags posted on the beach, and if in doubt please check in with the lifeguards regarding the day's conditions.
AMENITIES: Parking, public restrooms, picnic tables, and showers. Several local food trucks are parked across and along Kamehameha Highway.
There are actually six different and distinct surf breaks along the long interconnected beach fronting the park. This is due to the large complex structure of the reefs stretching from near-shore far out into the ocean. Wave faces and shape are determined by direction of the swell and the amount of sand covering the reef. If you are facing the ocean, break to your left is world-famous "Banzai Pipeline" or "Pipe", one of the three breaks comprising the Triple Crown of Surfing competition locations (its Billabong Pipe Masters (Board Surfing) part). It hosts several other top surfing competitions including the Volcom Pipe Pro, the IBA Pipeline Pro (Bodyboarding), and the Pipeline Bodysurfing Classic.
This area is packed when surf's up and the waves are large, leading to much traffic congestion and limited parking. In case you are stuck in slow-moving traffic approaching this park, access to the beach is possible at several locations south of the Ehu Kai entrance. Parking along Kamehameha Highway on the oceanside of the road is permitted as long as you do not see "no parking" signs. Shoreline access is marked by blue signs with white lettering stating "beach access". This is often not more than a sandy pathway between beachfront homes, but can be easily located by watching people going to and from the beach.
To truly appreciate the power of this ocean playground, take a look at this great video of "Pipeline" breaking big and being surfed by experts.
During the summer the area is much less congested, and is a great place for swimming on mellow surf days or simply basking in the sun on this world-famous stretch of sand. This video shows the summer conditions : http://youtu.be/vlosW1GyJQk
If making the trip from the other parts of the island, "Pipe" has several webcams. You can check the conditions and weather in advance. Here is a link to one: http://explore.org/#!/live-cams/player/hawaii-pipeline-cam
Ocean Safety Ehu Kai link:
If choosing to come up to this area for the high surf days, start out early in the day to have a more relaxing drive and easier parking time when you get here. A good idea is to pack your supplies for the day so you can stay parked and relaxed once you reach your destination.
Closest town: Pupukea/Haleiwa
Heading in from the north: go south on Kamehameha Highway aka HI-83, past Sunset Beach, then past mile marker 8, and look for the Sunset Beach Elementary School on the left, beach access and parking lot for the park is on the right just past the school entrance.
Heading from the south: go north on Kamehameha Highway aka HI-83 past 7 mile marker and then look for the Sunset Beach Elementary School yard on the right side of the road. The entrance to the park is on the left across from the school's tennis courts. If congested on a high surf day, look for roadside parking before you reach the park, after you pass a street and lifeguard tower named Ke Waena on the left.
Address for school across the street if using gps:
59-360 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712