Surfing the Sanctuaries

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

banzai pipeline

Banzai Pipeline — O’ahu, Hawai’i
Known simply as “Pipeline,” or just “Pipe,” this iconic break on O’ahu’s North Shore draws world-class surfers every winter with its towering swells and picture-perfect barrels. The wave breaks over a shallow reef, making it one of the most powerful — and most deadly — surf spots in the world.

waimea bay surfing

Waimea Bay — O’ahu, Hawai’i
Home to professional surfing tournaments such as the Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, O’ahu’s scenic Waimea Bay was one of the first big wave surfing destinations to gain international fame.

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Mavericks surfing

Mavericks — Half Moon Bay, Calif.
This infamous wave rumbles off the coast of California’s Half Moon Bay, cresting as high as 50 feet when conditions are right. Fierce currents, shallow rocks and bone-chilling water temperatures pose a daunting test for even the most intrepid big wave surfers. High-Resolution Mapping of Mavericks


Steamer Lane — Santa Cruz, Calif.
Northern California surfing pioneers like Jack O’Neill made Steamer Lane a hub of innovation starting in the late 1950s, giving rise to the modern wetsuit and board leash. While other waves surpass it in size and power, it remains one of the most popular surfing destinations on the West Coast.

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

ocean beach

Ocean Beach — San Francisco, Calif.
Miles of beach break surf near San Francisco offer moody, powerful surf to those up for the challenge of strong currents, cold waters, and year-round exposure to swells from many directions.

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Channel Islands

channel islands

A chain of offshore islands with rocky reefs and thick kelp beds, accessible only by a long boat ride, the Channel Islands hold a few hidden gems for the adventurous advanced surfer.

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Olympic Coast

olympic coast

Publicly accessible sections of this beautiful wilderness coastline offer long, rugged hikes and the chance to discover a few remote and uncrowded waves, perhaps in the company of passing gray whales or soaring bald eagles.

View Sanctuary Surf Spots in a larger map