The northern hemisphere winter months on the North Shore see a concentration of surfing activity, taking advantage of swells originating in the stormy North Pacific. Notable surfing spots include Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach.
The spot of Ehukai Beach, commonly known as the Banzai Pipeline, is the most notable surfing spot on the North Shore, and is considered a prime spot for competitions due to its close proximity to the beach, giving spectators, judges, and photographers a great view.
The North Shore is considered to be the surfing mecca of the world, and every December hosts three competitions, which make up the Triple Crown of Surfing. The three men's competitions are the Reef Hawaiian Pro, the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing, and the Billabong Pipeline Masters. The three women's competitions are the Reef Hawaiian Pro, the Roxy Pro Sunset, and the Billabong Pro on the neighboring island of Maui.
Waimea Bay plays host to the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau. This is an exclusive competition and participants must be invited. The competitions has a scheduled window of dates each winter, however the competition has a minimum requirement of 20-foot (6.1 m) waves. Therefore, the competition is not held every year.
In November 2011, Garrett McNamara of Hawaii set the Guinness World Record for riding the biggest wave ever thought to have been ridden, a 78-foot (24 m) wave off the coast of Portugal.