Where do you go on your honeymoon when you live somewhere as beautiful as Nosara? Simple… Hawaii. We did it on a shoe string – we had stand-by tickets, which were a gift, and a house sitting gig once we got there. Definitely the way to do it but Oahu still isn’t a cheap vacation. It’s worth every penny though.
The island of Oahu was the birth place of modern surfing in 1920s Waikiki (on the south shore where the waves are gentle). By pure coincidence the north shore of the same island holds the densest concentration of powerful, performance waves anywhere on earth. A seven mile stretch of coast between Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach has been the proving grounds for the world’s best surfers for the last 50 years. As a surfer you have to make the pilgrimage to the North Shore at least once in your life.
It’s actually not that consistent surf wise (Here’s a link to the live webcam pointing at Pipeline). You’ve got to be there in the winter to get any waves on the North Shore but even then there are no guarantees. October is a great time to go as you start getting the winter swells but the media circus that is the WCT (World Championship Tour), doesn’t arrive until November.
On the other hand if you want to see the (potentially) greatest show on earth then The Pipeline Masters is held during the best days surf in the middle two weeks of December. Pipe is an amazing venue to watch a surf contest at, not just because the wave itself is so heavy but because it’s so close to the beach. All the action is happening spitting distance from where you are standing.
If you don’t want to have to rent a car, and you want to see or surf the gnarliest waves the North Shore has to offer, then it’s best to stay between Waimea and Sunset Beach. (Here’s a idea of some of the accommodation options available). You can rent a studio sleeping two people for around $80 per night, that’s probably your cheapest option. Of course you could rent a house on the beach over looking Pipeline for $2500 per night …nice. There’s also the The Turtle Bay Resort if you want an all-the-frills hotel.
We stayed in Haleiwa which I think is perfect. You need a car to get around but it’s a cool little town, cheaper than being right on the North Shore and there are dozens of breaks near by.
If the surf is small under 6′-12′ faces (called a Hawaiian 3 to 6 feet) then Rocky Point is where all the cameras and crowds are. Once the surf starts getting serious (12 foot + faces) then the crowd moves a few hundred yards down the beach to Pipe. This makes for a great show but it can be intense and dangerous in the water. For beginner to intermediate level surfers, there are loads of friendly and mellow surf spots a short drive away. Chuns reef is a good place to start. It’s also pretty fun swimming in the shore break at Wiamea – Gem spent about a week getting sand out of her ears. She got rolled about 15 yards up the beach just after this photo…
One thing that’s really cool is getting to surf with your heroes. Al and I surfed sunset with wondergrom Carissa Moore. The smiley, high pitched, teenage prodigy surfed rings around us and everyone else. It occurred to me that a lot of my heroes are now younger than me … doh! Old time legend Ken Bradshaw was out there too, readdressing the age to hero ratio. He cruised along the 10 foot walls like it was ankle high. I got to surf very small Pipe (which I’m calling “Pipette”) with Sunny Garcia and Al had a chat with Kalani Robb just hanging out on the beach at Rocky Point. The surf geek in me was in heaven.
There’s volcanoes and beautiful beaches to explore. Skydiving is big on Oahu but during our stay this guy hit the ground a hundred yards from where we were sitting when his parachute didn’t open. It was pretty heavy and has kinda put me off the idea.
Waikiki is a blast – bars, restaurants, clubs. It’s like a beautiful, plastic, high-rise tourist town in the middle of the ocean. Great for a day or night before returning to the North Shore. (You could do what Al did and simply hunt down the gayest clothes in the gayest shop he could find.)
The people are just awesome. The surf culture is so… mature. Surfing isn’t cool or uncool anymore than eating is. Everybody does it and it’s fun. One weekend we went along with some friends to their kids surf contest. Mums and Dads in the water helping the kids into waves, everyone cheering and Andy Irons (3x World Champ) on the beach giving out goodie bags.
But of all the amazing people we met in Hawaii our favorites are Dawn, Lulu, Cindy and Ian – thanks guys for making our trip so special, see you soon back in Nosara.
If you’d like to find out more about going to Oahu’s North Shore there some good info at www.aloha-hawaii.com.