Like many beaches on Oahu's North Shore, Sunset Beach is considered dangerous for inexperienced surfers, due to extensive coral formations near the surface that present the risk of serious injury. Trade winds will be an advantage and a disadvantage, at the same, as the offshore breeze will make paddling for a wave a difficult task. Conditions for swimming change depending on the particular location and season. Generally speaking, the water is flat as a lake in the summers and has waves in the winters. All the surfing contests take place in the winter around December and January, that being the time of the largest and best waves for surfing. Swimming conditions change from spot to spot along the beach. There is usually a place to swim somewhere, except during stormy weather.
Sunset Beach will pump perfect waves with West-to-Northeast swells coming from the North Pacific. The spot is located two miles east of Banzai Pipeline. It was home to the Duke Kahanamoku Invitational surfing competition until 1985. The Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in honor of Eddie Aikau started at Sunset Beach in 1984. Today Sunset Beach is home to the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, which is part of the World Cup of Surfing. It also holds contests such as the Pipe Masters and a stop on the WSL Championship Tour