Best things to know about Banzai pipeline

Banzai pipeline in located in North Shore, Oahu.

As one of the most famous and notorious surf spots on the North Shore, the beach known as Banzai Pipeline sought after by advanced surfers for its for its barreling waves.

If there is one beach in all of Hawaii that you've heard of it's probably Waikiki. But, if there is a second beach it's probably Pipeline which is located in the Haleiwa area on the northshore of O'ahu.

Pipeline is a surf break located offshore and to the left of the beach. However, the name of the beach here is ‘Ehukai Beach Park even if everyone will simply call it Pipeline.

Banzai Pipeline surf report

During the summer months this place is often very calm (unless the ocean is angry) and you aren't going to see those famous monster waves that you've seen in pictures and movies. During the winter months, and assuming the ocean is doing its thing, is when you can see some big waves and amazing surfing.

It's during these winter days when the parking here will be filled up and then some and you'll have no chance of parking anywhere close to this place. Of course, when you see that many people here it's a sign that you want to be here! Find a place to park and walk back to enjoy whatever show is going on.

During the summer, at least during the week, this place is usually not crowded at all and a great place to relax, play in the sand, or jump in the clear, blue waters.

The beach here is very long and wide so there is plenty of room to spread out and you'll even find lifeguards, showers, bathrooms, and a grassy area with picnic tables. It's an all around great beach park.

Reaching its peak during the winter season, massive swells crash on shallow reef.  This makes it an extremely dangerous beach even for the most advanced and experienced surfers.

The Banzai Pipeline, otherwise known as Pipeline, is a reef break located in Hawaii, off Ehukai Beach Park in Pupukea on O'ahu's North Shore. Essentially, Banzai Pipeline is notorious for huge waves that break in shallow water just above a razor sharp reef. Resulting in large, hollow waves of water that surfers can tube ride.

Essentially, there are three reefs at Pipeline in water that gets deeper the further out to sea. Each increasing in size as the approaching swells come in.

The international contest, The Triple Crown of Surfing and the Billabong Pipeline Masters are popping during the winter months. In the summer time Banzai Pipeline is much much calmer. Nothing like it's winter time wave heights.

Unlike the chill surf in Maui, the steep, fast Hawaiian barreling wave breaks almost all year round on the North Shore of Oahu, south of Sunset Beach, north of Log Cabins, and right in front of Kamehameha Highway.

Known for having some of the most thick waves in the world. The short seven second ride will pip left will always spit.

Offering a crazy left-hand experience only for experienced surfers.

For a long time, Banzai Pipline was thought to be an unrideable wave. Especially unsafe, which would surely break bones and boards.

Banzai Pipeline is a deadly wave

In less than a 100 years, Banzai Pipeline is responsible for many medical bills and claiming the lives of many advanced surfers.

However, Banzai pipeline isn't just about the massive wave. It has many different waves. Producing a left-hander known as First Reef and Pipe, Back-Door which is a right-hander, and Second Reef and Third Reef, which only works when a larger swells comes along.

Specifics of the break

The reef at Pipe is a flat tabletop reef, with several caverns on the inside, creating a giant air bubble that pops on the front of the wave when the wave lurches upwards just before breaking. There are also several jagged, underwater lava spires that can injure fallen surfers.

Sand can accumulate on the reef at Pipeline, and that can cause waves to “close out” (meaning the hollow tube of the wave collapses all at once and thus is impossible to surf). A strong swell (a formation of long-wavelength surface waves) from the west clears out the sand in the reef, and after that, a strong north swell can give rise to the best waves.

There are four waves associated with Pipeline. The left (which means the wave breaks from left to right from the perspective of a watcher on shore) known as Pipeline (a.k.a. First Reef) is the most commonly surfed and photographed.

When the reef is hit by a north swell, the peak (the highest tipping-point of the wave where it begins to curl) becomes an A-frame shaped wave, with Pipe closing out a bit and peeling off left, and the equally famous Backdoor Pipeline peeling away to the right at the same time. As the size at Pipe increases, over 12 feet usually, Second Reef on the outside (further out into the deeper ocean waters) starts breaking, with longer walls (the unbroken face of the wave that the surfer slides across), and more size.

At an extreme size, an area called Third Reef even further outside starts to break with giant waves.

Book Your Surf Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book your flight
Find a cheap flight by using Google Flights. They are our favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know you're getting the best flight.

Book your surf hotel or surf accommodation
You can book a really unique and local place with AirBnB anywhere in the world. We used it recently in Sri Lanka to book a place withing a 3 minute walk to a surf break. If you want to stay somewhere other than an AirBnB, use Booking.com, as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, surf gear theft, and cancellations. Basically, you get protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a surf trip without it. We’ve been using World Nomads for close to ten years now.

Protect your personal data
When you travel, you're constantly logging into public Wi-Fi. VPNs are designed to protect all of your Internet traffic. This includes email, streaming music and video, voice calls, and anything else you can think of. We use ExpressVPN when we're on a surf trip.

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out our resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all those I use — and they’ll save you time and money too!