NORTH SHORE, Oahu In the world of surfing, they say you haven’t
made it until you’ve made it in Hawaii. If you live on Oahu, the
locals agree that you haven’t seen real surfing until you’ve
visited the North Shore.
It behooves visitors, then, to make the 45-minute drive from
Honolulu to the North Shore during the winter months, when mammoth
waves stand as high as 40 feet.
“There are very few places in the world like the North Shore,
where you can find waves so big and so close to shore that they
make the earth shake,” said Jodi Young, Hawaii surfing promoter and
North Shore resident.
“We call the North Shore ‘the country,’ because we still have
farms and unaltered landscapes, without any high-rise development,”
said Young. “This time of year, it’s beautiful, green and
thundering with waves.”
Each November and December, the world’s top-ranked surfers and
best big-wave riders converge on the North Shore for the Vans
Triple Crown of Surfing series, the grand finale to the annual
international professional surfing season.
Scheduled this year from Nov. 12-Dec. 20, the series of events
is free to spectators, and all of the contests provide excellent
viewing opportunities from the beach.
On the days of competition, clients are sure to witness some
hair-raising sights, said Young.
“The atmosphere is electric, the conditions for surfers are
life-threatening and world titles and credibility are on the line,”
Entering its 21st year, the Triple Crown is comprised of three
men’s and three women’s events. The women take to the waves for the
Roxy Pro at Haleiwa’s Alii Beach Park (Nov. 12-22), Women’s Pro at
Turtle Bay Resort (Nov. 24-Dec. 7) and Billabong Pro in Honolua Bay
on Maui (Dec. 8-20).
The men, meanwhile, challenge the waves in the Vans Hawaiian Pro
at Alii Beach Park (Nov. 12-22), the Rip Curl Cup at Sunset Beach
(Nov. 24-Dec. 7) and Pipeline Masters off Ehukai Beach (Dec.
“Without a doubt, Pipeline is the king of all surfing venues,”
Young said. “The waves are nothing but dangerous, barreling off
like a pipeline over just two to three feet of water and gnarly
coral heads. Coupled with that, the waves break just 50 feet off
shore, so it’s like watching a movie screen in front of your eyes.
The thrills and spills are always fantastic, as are the perfect
tube rides that this venue provides.”
Each event within the series features a 10- to 12-day window,
and competition takes place on the biggest and best days within
that period. In Hawaii, clients can call the surf hotline each
morning for the status of competition. It’s also posted first thing
each morning on the Triple Crown Web site.
Even on the days when the competition doesn’t run, clients can
find plenty to do on the North Shore. Haleiwa town is a bustling,
rustic hamlet with boutiques, art galleries, restaurants and ocean
sports outfitters. North Shore attractions include Waimea Valley
and the Polynesian Cultural Center. Sports-minded visitors can
hike, bike, ride horses and go rock climbing in the rural
Young shared some important tips for clients who want to watch
one of the upcoming Triple Crown surfing contests.
“Don’t talk to surfers as they prepare for the competitions on
the shore,” she said. “With their lives and careers literally on
the line, tension levels run high.”
She emphasized that clients should check with lifeguards and
heed signs on the beach when considering entering the ocean to surf
“It’s not uncommon in the winter time for ocean conditions to
change dramatically in the course of just one or two hours,” Young
said. “I’ve seen the ocean jump from flat to 20 feet in no
As the place where surfing began centuries ago, Hawaii and
particularly Oahu’s North Shore is a logical place for the end of
the year’s pro surfing circuit, Young said.
“We can guarantee big waves during the months that competition
is held,” she said. “The North Shore is a laid-back community where
surfers can come and live for the two months of competition.
“Over the decades, legends have been made and broken here, and
every competitor is out to prove themselves,” Young added. “This is
the heart of the industry and the lifeline of the sport. If it
matters, it happens here.”