Waimea Bay is located in Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands at the mouth of the Waimea River with Waimea Valley extending behind it. Waimea means “Red Water” in Hawaiian.

History of Waimea Bay

Captain Clerke aboard HMS Resolution stopped at Waimea Bay on 28 February 1779. Clerke had shortly before taken command of the ship after Capt. James Cook was killed at Kealakekua Bay. Waimea Bay was the only O‘ahu anchorage visited by the expedition. The Waimea Valley was densely populated at the time, and the remains of a Pu‘u o Mahuka, an important heiau (Hawaiian temple) can still be seen.

Pu‘u o Mahuka can be visited by driving up Pupukea Road and taking the first right through the cattle guard. A short hike down the hill brings you to a spectacular view Waimea Bay and the North Shore towards the Wai‘anae Mountain range.


In winter, Waimea and other North Shore locations such as Pipeline and Sunset Beach host a number of surfing contests because of the large waves found here. These waves are created by winter storms in the North Pacific. Their arrival on O‘ahu’s North Shore are typically forecast accurately several days in advance. In summer, Waimea typically has clear and calm water.The surf break at Waimea Bay was significant in the development of Big wave surfing. Larger surf at the bay went unridden for years until November 7, 1957 when a handful of surfers finally paddled out and rode the giant waves. While the surf only breaks big several times a year, Waimea was the most prestigious big wave surf break in the world for decades.

With the advent of tow-in surfing, more and more big wave breaks have been discovered that are far superior in quality than Waimea. However, the bay still holds a significant place even in today’s world of big wave surfing. The well known Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau takes place in this point to honour the legendary surfer and the first lifeguard of the North Shore of Oahu.
Since 1984, the tournament has been held seven times. This is due to a precondition that waves must be at least 20 feet high. The most recent tournament was in December 2004, when waves in the bay reached 30 to 50 feet high.


In Summer, Waimea Bay is a playground of fun for freedivers, S.C.U.B.A. divers, and those who desire to jump off “da Big Rock” or “Jump Rock”. A rock that is perfectly positioned in the bay (for use at your own risk!). You can also find rock climbers practicing their skills on the cliff and in the dry cave on the beach. The Bay- as well as Three Tables, Pupukea, & Shark’s Cove- are protected waters. The diversity of life in these waters is astounding.


Waimea Bay is one of the filming locations used for the television series Lost, which is an American drama-adventure television series surrounding the survivors of a plane crash on a mysterious tropical island. (The location of the downed plane – not there anymore – is Mokuleia at the end of Dillingham airstrip almost to road’s end at Ka Ena Point.)

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