Makaha Rules Oahu’s Beach Scene

Oahu’s North Shore—home to Pipeline, Sunset, and Waimea Bay—is known world-wide as the capital of surfing. But ask the pros who dominate the North Shore and many will tell you that the real heart of surfing is on the West Side at Makaha Beach Park. Here, surfing is a way of life that spans generations. At Makaha is a wave machine that rolls huge sets onto scorching sands.

Makaha is home to Oahu’s royal surfing family led by Richard Buffalo Keaulana, his two sons Brian and Rusty, and other world-class surfers. Brian, pictured here teaching his tandem skills to a gymnast from the Mainland, is a legendary waterman (lifeguard), whose pioneering work on jet skis has saved many lives. He has been an advisor and actor in several Hollywood films. Each year in January since 1976, Makaha hosts Buffalo’s Big Board Surfing Classic, a potpourri of events ranging from six-man canoe surfing to trick-riding on long boards. The Buffalo is unlike any other surfing event.

The west coast of Oahu becomes an undeveloped beachscape as you drive north from Makaha. Scenes from the movie Hawaii were filmed here at Makua Beach. The Farrington Highway ends at a long sandy beach at Yokohama Bay, where a trail to rugged Keana Point begins. The West Side may be a little gritty for some visitors, but others will rave. See Oahu Trailblazer, beginning page 200 for the ins and outs.