During the summer months from late April to September-ish (when the surf is small), Sunset Beach is one of the best on the island of Oahu for snorkeling and summer fun. It's definitely by far the best on the North Shore. But even when it gets cold and the water unruly, there's surfing to see.
In other words, no matter the season, Sunset Beach is a fun and amazing place to spend time - summer, winter or anytime in between. Although the immediate stretch of crescent-shaped beach that's considered Sunset is good-sized itself, it's part of seven miles of fine white sand, a truly exquisite beach year-round.
Looking west at Sunset Beach — Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt
Also known as Paumalu Beach (Paumalu means "sunset" in Hawaiian.), the beach is home to water fountains, cold showers, restrooms and lifeguards. The ocean bottom here is covered mostly with sand and just a bit of reef, which is where the best snorkeling is. Body boards and other water toys are fun here, but only during the summer.
But even when the surf comes up - way up (Think 20 feet plus!) - in the cold months, it's time to stay out of the water and watch the world's top professional surfers brave the huge surf.
Parking is right on the side of Kamehameha Highway, which is often full, so look in the parking lot across the street by the restrooms. There's a paved bike path lining the top of the beach, and locals jogging or taking a leisurely bike ride are a common sight.
Sunset at Sunset Beach — Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt