Beneath Pipeline


Brad Scarfe, who is part of a New Zealand crew that has studied surfing breaks since the late 90s for academic and protection purposes, charted Pipeline’s underwater turmoil using information gathered by NOAA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Underwater reefs and sea floor elevations are largely responsible for Pipeline and Backdoor, the waves that break at this particular spot on the North Shore of Oahu.


Backdoor breaks right, and Pipeline breaks left as they approach shore, but waves begin to bend roughly one mile from shore as a headland marks the point when deep water suddenly becomes shallower.


Nearer to shore a coral reef formation forces waves to break over cracks, crevices and ledges with varying levels of intensity and distance from shore depending on wave size, direction and winds.