Location Type: Surf Break
Hale'iwa, Oahu, Hawaii
Banzai Pipeline is one of the most infamous surf breaks in the world and known for its super fast barreling lefts that break over a few inches of water and cavernous, razor sharp reef. Pipeline is infamous because more people have died and been seriously injured here than any surf break in the world. Banzai Pipeline is home to the third jewel of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
Parking for Pipeline is in the small parking lot at Ehukai Beach Park off of Kamehameha Highway. This parking lot is always full with cars and you have to be super lucky or wait for someone to leave to get a stall here on any given winter day. Surfers and beach goers will usually park along Kamehameha Highway or across the street in the Sunset Beach Elementary parking lot or along the road.
Pipeline is the wave that all other breaks are measured by. Pipeline is unique because it will hold a huge swell and on some days surfers can get an in and out barrel the size of a station wagon. With a combination of heavy localized crowd, fast take offs, hollow waves, ripping currents, and the death factor this break is reserved for advanced and professional surfers only. Because of the frequent barrels here, bodyboarders love Pipeline and shortboarders will share the break with the some of the best bodyboarders in the world.
Pipeline works best in the winter months on a big west swell. Depending on the swell size, Pipeline will break over one of three reefs. Waves will break over first reef up to 10 foot (faces), over second reef from 10-18 feet, and over third reef above 20 feet. Paddling out to Pipeline is to the right of the break through a small channel. Unless your name is Jamie O’brien or you know Da Hui pack by name be prepared to be vibed by the locals and pushed out of the lineup.
The right break within the Banzai Pipeline is called Backdoor, which breaks better during north and north/west swells. Backdoor has the same take off spot as Pipeline, but going right can have longer barrel rides than the lefts. Backdoor can sometimes have more consequences than the left with a shallower take off spot and no channel to paddle back out.
Visitors cannot think for a second that they can paddle out to Pipeline and get a stand-up barrel on their first or even second try. There is a regular Pipeline surf pack that will work together and make sure they get all the sets and visitors don’t get any. Pipeline is feared by most surfers because on big days a wipeout or taking powerful sets on the head can be a matter of life or death. Getting an in and out barrel here can be lifetime achievement and for those who have had that privilege most definitely earned it.