People watching the sunset at sunset Beach in Oahu

Sunset Beach: Guide to Visiting This Popular Beach on the North Shore of Oahu

Are you looking for a breathtaking beach to visit in Oahu? Look no further than Sunset Beach!

This world-famous spot is known for its perfect waves in the wintertime and its amazing sunsets. It’s the ideal place to come and relax, catch some waves, and take in the incredible beauty of Oahu’s North Shore.

Come see why Sunset Beach is one of the most popular destinations in Hawaii. With its stunning scenery and perfect waves, it’s easy to see why this beach is a favorite for locals and visitors alike.

Disclaimer: Swimming or any water activity can be dangerous. Please assess your own mental and physical health before getting in the water. Content on this site is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical, health, or safety advice.

Gorgeous blue water and golden white sand at Sunset Beach on Oahu with palm trees in the background
The sun setting at Sunset Beach with a few people watching the sunset

Overview of Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach is situated between Waimea Bay and Kahuku Point on Oahu’s North Shore.

It was initially called “Paumalu” and was renamed “Sunset Beach” in the 1920s.

The beach is about two miles long and is wide with golden sand. This is one of the best beaches in Hawaii so be sure to check it out.

The waves at Sunset Beach are some of the most consistent and challenging in the world, making it a popular spot for surfing competitions in the winter (November-April). The waves can get up to 30 feet high!

Sunset Beach Facilities & Amenities

Sunset Beach has the following facilities and amenities:

  • Free Parking (You can park at one of the the beach parks)
  • Bathrooms and showers (across the street from the beach)
  • Picnic tables (across the street from the beach)
  • lifeguard on duty
  • Limited shady areas
Gorgeous blue water, golden sand and palm trees at Sunset Beach in Oahu

Sunset Beach Activities

There are plenty of activities to take part in at Sunset Beach.

Swimming: In the summer months (May-October), the water is usually calm and perfect for swimming. Sunset Beach is one of the best beaches in Oahu for swimming, so definitely check it out if you are there in the summer months.

Surfing: As mentioned previously, the waves at Sunset Beach are some of the best in the world for surfing.

Snorkeling: There is also good snorkeling to be had at Sunset Beach. Only attempt to snorkel here during the summertime. The waves in the winter can be dangerous.

Watch a surfing competition: If you are in town during a surfing competition, be sure to check it out. For many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Catch a sunset: As the name suggests, one of the best things to do at Sunset Beach is to well, watch the sunset! With its incredible views and perfect location, Sunset Beach is the ideal place to watch the sunset over the ocean.

Fishing: Sunset Beach is also an excellent spot for fishing. If you love fishing, make sure to bring your pole and try your luck!

The sun setting with a palm trees in the shote at Sunset Beach in Oahu

What to Bring

Here are some things we recommend bringing with you to the beach:

Beach umbrella or sun shelter: There is limited shade at Sunset Beach. If you plan to be there for an extended period, I highly recommend bringing at least a beach chair or a towel to sit on.

Reef-safe sunscreen or a rashguard: The sun is incredibly strong in Hawaii, making it very easy to get a bad sunburn. Make sure to add some reef-safe sunscreen and/or a rashguard to your Hawaii packing list.

Food and drinks: Make sure to pack some snacks and enough water before heading to the beach. You don’t want to be dehydrated and hungry while you’re there.

Sunhat: Again, the sun is very strong in Hawaii, so a beach hat is always good to protect yourself from the sun.

Sunglasses: These are a requirement for us. Eyes are too precious not to protect, so make sure not to forget your sunglasses.

Tips for Visiting Sunset Beach

Arrive early: Sunset Beach is a very popular spot that tends to get crowded, especially on weekends. If you’re not a fan of big crowds, we recommend arriving early to get a good spot.

Note: Sunsets here tend to be super crowded, especially in the summer months. If you don’t like big crowds, try going to the neighboring Kawela Bay. The sunsets there are just as spectacular but with fewer people.

Check the surf conditions before you go: As I mentioned earlier, the waves at Sunset Beach are some of the most dangerous in the world.

Make sure to check the surf conditions before you go to ensure it is safe for any water activities. We don’t recommend getting in the water in the wintertime unless you are experienced and know what you’re doing.

Check surfing competition schedule: If you’re interested in watching a surfing competition, check the schedule before you go. There is nothing like making the drive there to see the competition only to find out no competitions are going on at that time.

Lastly, the weather is never a guarantee. A surfing competition was set up and ready to go last time we visited Sunset Beach, but it ended up being canceled since the waves weren’t big enough.

How to get to Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach is located on the North Shore of Oahu in the town of Pupukea. The best way to get there is by car. You can also take Uber or Lyft if you prefer that option. 

The drive from the Waikiki/Honolulu area should take about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

You can also take a bus, but it takes longer for you to get there since buses make multiple stops.

Below is a map and directions on how to get there:

Link to Directions: Sunset Beach Park, Pupukea, HI 96712

Map Of Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach Frequently Asked Questions

Is Sunset Beach, Hawaii nice?

Yes, Sunset Beach is one of the best beaches on Oahu. It’s well known for its world-famous waves and beautiful sunsets.

Is it safe to swim at Sunset Beach?

We recommend only swimming here in the summertime. The waves at Sunset Beach can be dangerous, so it is important to check the surf conditions before getting in the water.

Is Sunset Beach a private beach?

No, Sunset Beach is open to the public.

Why is it called Sunset Beach?

The beach is named after the gorgeous sunsets that you can experience here.

What’s in the Area

Visit some of the nearby beaches: If you are looking for more beaches to explore, then you’re in luck. The north shore has some of the best beaches in Oahu.

Here are some of our favorite beaches on the North Shore: Waimea Bay, Turtle Bay, Laniakea Beach, Haleiwa Beach, Ehukai Beach (AKA the Banzai Pipeline)

Visit the North Shore food trucks: One of the best things about the North Shore is the food trucks. Make sure to check out some of the tantalizing varieties when you get a chance; there are shrimp trucks, shave ice, acai bowls, tacos, and more!

Visit Haleiwa town: After a day at the beach, make sure to explore the town of Haleiwa. There are some great shops and restaurants to explore.

Visit Laie Point: Laie Point has some of the best views on the island. Be sure to check it out if you are in the area. 

For adventurous people, Laie Point is one of the best spots on Oahu to cliff jump. Please be warned: cliff jumping is a very dangerous activity. If you decide to do this activity, do so at your own risk.

Snorkel at Shark’s Cove: Located just north of Sunset Beach, Shark’s Cove is one of the best places on Oahu to snorkel. Be sure to check it out if you’re looking for some fantastic snorkeling.

Hike some of the best hiking trails on Oahu: If you’re looking for a good hike in Oahu, check out some of the top hikes on the North Shore, such as the Ehukai Pillbox Hike and the Kaena Point Trail.

The Wrap Up

Sunset Beach is one of the most popular beaches on Oahu for good reason: It has amazing views, perfect waves for surfing, and is a great place to watch the sunset.

If you’re visiting the island, make sure to add Sunset Beach to your list of places to visit.

Mahalo for reading our post! Until next time, Aloha!