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The largest settlement is Haleʻiwa. This area is best known for its massive waves, attracting surfers from all around the globe.
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.
Although the North Shore is known for its large winter surf, there are a number of surf schools that can teach a beginner the basics of surfing in coves that are protected from the larger waves.
Due to its natural beauty, proximity to Honolulu, and large waves, the North Shore is a popular area for filming.
The Fox Network TV show North Shore ABC's Lost was also filmed almost entirely on O'ahu, with much of it filmed on the North Shore. The area of Turtle Bay features rock formations and constant rolling surf, making it ideal as a backdrop for Lost.
The North Shore was also the setting for the movies Ride the Wild Surf, North Shore, Blue Crush, The Big Bounce, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, as well as being fictionalized for the animated film Surf's Up.
The North Shore only houses one large commercial hotel, the Turtle Bay Resort, which also has 2 world-class golf courses. Other accommodations are available in privately run condos, house rentals, and a youth hostel.