About Sunset

This is a waterman’s wave. Open-ocean power unloads on a football-sized playing field at Sunset Beach, forcing surfers to ride different equipment and approach the wave differently than they would their everyday beachbreak or even at a world-class reef. The most successful surfers at Sunset push past any fear and are willing to adjust their approach to suit the reef’s wide variability and moody nature.

The Sunset arena is made up of many different spots or sections of the reef, starting with a spot not far off the beach called Val’s Reef. It’s a shifty, bowly peak that can offer up fun little waves when there’s not much swell running. The Inside Bowl is an end section directly outside Val’s Reef about 200 meters offshore and is a bit separate from the main break. It links up with the main sections on a more NNW/N swell and is an unpredictable and often violent portion of Sunset that is responsible for many casualties to board and rider.

Outside of Val’s and the Inside Bowl is the West Peak, where WNW/NW swell energy (especially more westerly angled swell) rises quickly from the deep channel, refracting back in toward the portion of the wrapping swell line.

Next across the reef is The Point. Wave shape and the takeoff point at the Point depends heavily on the swell direction. North to NE swells will fold crosswise over the reef fingers that extend out from the shore, breaking up the swell lines to create different takeoff spots with unpredictable, sectiony waves. More westerly swells focus better over at the West Peak/Bowl, amplifying the wave into a very powerful, bowling wedge peak. For the Point to behave like a right pointbreak, northwest/north-northwest angled swells allow the wave to bend in and run along the reef.

Past the Point is an area known as Backyards, where waves break across a broad lava platform that slowly drops away offshore. Double overhead+ sets can break far off the beach, however, the best shape tends to be around head-high to a few feet overhead, where it can produce peaks with excellent rights and lefts.

Sunset is also known for lots of paddling, especially the bigger it gets, as there is lots of water moving around out there. Rides can be long, so the distance to get back out is long. However, if you make good use of the Kammieland Rip running out in the channel of the bay, then getting back out to the lineup is not so bad. Bigger, more westerly angled swells will sweep the rip back toward the inside of Sunset, which getting out of there can take all your energy and tons of water on the head over shallow reef.

Source: Sunset Surf Guide

Ability Level

All Abilities

Beg Int Adv

All levels, but depends on size.

Local Vibe

Doable

Welcoming Intimidating

Spread out across the broad playing field and friendly for the most part. Humility and respect a must.

Crowd Factor

Heavy

Mellow Heavy

Moderate to heavy, but spread out along all the spots of this playing field.

Spot Rating

Fun

Poor Perfect

Wide variety of spots along this huge playing field that offers something for pretty much everyone, depending size of course.

Shoulder Burn

Exhausting

Light Exhausting

Lots of paddling, especially the bigger it gets. Long rides, and lots of current.

Water Quality

Clean

Clean Dirty

Clean. Beautiful, clear, blue water.

Additional Information

Hazards

Hold-downs, lots of paddling, getting caught inside on a huge set, especially during a west swell and the reverse current that comes with it.

Access

Easy: Public parking spots on the side of Kam Highway right at Sunset Beach, or park along Kam Highway where authorized.

Bring Your

Shortboard, funboard, longboard, fish, gun

Seabed

Reef

Best Season

Winter

Swell Consistency and Wind Overview

Photos & Videos