During the day, this lovely two-mile reach of golden sands and pale turquoise waters is breathtaking in and of itself, with immense cobalt blue waves that can reach up to 30 feet in height, perfect for the experienced surfer. During winter, the sea is rougher, and most of the surfing competitions take place, as the ocean rolls in on itself with great force and height. During the summer, it is calmer and better suited for snorkelers and swimmers, with charming tide pools that collect in the sand, making for fun shell collecting. However, no matter the time of the year there will always a spot on the beach somewhere for the swimmer, just be sure to obey all posted warning signs for your protection.
Located on the North Shore, which is immensely popular for surfers of all skill levels, Sunset Beach enjoys lifeguard watchfulness, showers and restrooms as amenities, with picnic tables available for use. It is also considered Oahu’s most romantic beach, with many weddings taking place here, for no more beautiful background could be asked for on that special day.
The entire North Shore is a haven for active beaches and some historical areas, most notably the quiet, plantation town of Haleiwa, which translates to “house of the Iwa.” Originally the name of a lush and renowned hotel that no longer stands, Haleiwa became a designated historical site in 1984, retaining the same storefronts and small-town charm it claimed in its former glory years. There are art galleries, museums, surf shops and eateries to be explored in this enchanting town. It claims its own beach park, too, and the historical Rainbow Bridge which crosses over the Anahulu Stream. Very relaxed and laid-back, a far cry from Honolulu’s Waikiki beach, no trip to Haleiwa is complete without a visit to Matsumoto Shave Ice for an island-famous rainbow colored treat, topped with sweet azuki beans.
The North Shore is also home to the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is a must-see for visitors to the island, and the famous beaches of Waimea Bay and Pipeline, also surfer havens. Moving west from Haleiwa, the area is hedged by the Waianae mountain range, including Mount Ka'ala, which lays claim to being the tallest peak on Oahu, and Ka'ena Point, which is the western-most tip of the shoreline and faces north. Nestled between Haleiwa and Ka'ena are a good number of white, sandy beaches, including the kite-surfing beach of Mokule'ia.
Sunset Beach is an adventure unto itself, or the gateway to many other amazing places to visit on the north side of the island, all sprawling out before you like a smorgasbord of discovery. See for yourself why Sunset Beach is one the most popular beaches on the island today.