Sunset Beach

When people daydream about a beach on Oahu, Sunset Beach is often that image. Expansive and inviting, this broad sandy beach on the island’s fabled North Shore just off Kamehameha Highway is one of the most famous surfing spots in the world. Originally called Paumalu, Sunset Beach hosts one of three contests in the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing competition, luring top pro surfers every winter. And it’s no surprise why: the outside peaks here are mountainous and steep, often reaching heights of 20 feet or higher. And the inside waves are thick, hollow, and powerful. It’s not uncommon to see surfers stagger out of the water, cradling their broken boards. During the summer months, though, the ocean is considerably tamer, making it a great spot for snorkeling and shell-collecting.