Surfing the wave of your life at Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach: the moment you catch this wave... | Photo: ASP/Cestari

Sunset Beach is one of the most famous big wave surfing spots on the North Shore of Oahu. Between the 1950s and the 1980s, it was considered the ultimate test and the most important surf beach in the world.

Originally named "Paumalu," Sunset Beach offers a dangerous lava-rock reef and, at least, six wave peaks: Val's Reef, The Bowl, West Peak, Sunset Point, The North Wall, and Backyards.

Home to the Duke Kahanamoku Classic, Sunset Beach will pump perfect waves with West-to-Northeast swells coming from the North Pacific.

The spot is located only two miles east of Banzai Pipeline.

Trade winds will be an advantage and a disadvantage, at the same, as the offshore breeze will make paddling for a wave a difficult task.

Add shifting peaks, heavy lips, and currents, and the game level gets an extra star.

Lorrin Harrison, Gene Smith, and John Kelly are the first wave riders of modern Sunset Beach. In 1939, they rode big wave faces in finless boards.

Jeff Hakman, the co-founder of Quiksilver America, has earned the title of "Mr. Sunset" after collecting three Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championships.

Being in the right spot and at the right time is one of many secrets hidden in the Sunset Beach wave.

The good thing is, you might ride the best and longest wave of your life right here. Or get pounded by the well-known, heavy lip.

Joel Parkinson, (3) Michael Ho (3), Hans Hedemann (2), Ian Cairns (2), Jake Patterson (2), Mark Richards (2), Sunny Garcia (2), and Tom Carroll (2) have claimed the highest number of titles in the history of the World Cup of Surfing, held since 1975, at Sunset Beach.

The Sunset Beach Equation

Best Tide: Any
Best Swell Direction: Northwest
Best Wave Size: 6-10 Feet
Left/Right: Mostly Right-Hander
Bottom: Reef/Coral and Sand
Quiver: Longboards, Shortboards, and Guns
Level of Experience: Intermediate and Advanced
Best Season: Fall and Winter
Crowded: Yes
Hazards: Reef/Coral, Rip Currents, Crowd, Localism, Shore Break, Jellyfish
Access: 24/7
Water Quality: Clean