North Shore Neighborhoods
Thousands of surf enthusiasts make the pilgrimage from their Waikiki hotels up to O‘ahu’s North Shore every winter to observe some of the largest, surfable waves on the planet pounding an otherwise tranquil shoreline. Here, legends have been born, and lives have been taken. Every year. Proceed with caution: From November through February, if you’re not an extremely experienced surfer and swimmer, best bet is to enjoy the thrills from the safety of the beach.
Former pro and father of organized surf contests Randy Rarick pieces together the Triple Crown of Surfing every December/January. The top riders from around the globe arrive to bunk in houses owned by the biggest names in surf sponsorship—Billabong, Volcom, Quiksilver and more—in order to get the pre-dawn call that the contests are “a go.”
There will be crowds on the beach before the sun breaks the horizon; surfers are already stretching, putting on competition jerseys, picking out and waxing their gun-shaped boards, and announcers turn on the PA to explain what is happening beyond the break. The energy—both in the water and on the beach—is kinetic. Everyone is charged.
If you want to get caught up in the action, head check the surf reports before bedtime, and plan on an early morning trek north to see what can only be described as death-defying marvels of one man, one board and the majesty that is a perfectly-formed wave that traveled half the planet for him (or her) to ride.
In between watching surf contests, there’s a lot to explore on the North Shore. Head to historic Hale‘iwa, where you can browse through an array of art galleries, boutiques for every budget, surf shops and more. Hungry? From grab-and-go beach fare to sit-down restaurants, the North Shore has something for everyone: island cuisine, Mexican fare, pizzas, burgers and more. Looking for adventure? Check out one of the many shrimp trucks that dot the landscape. You’ll probably also run into a fruit stand or two. And, no North Shore jaunt is complete without a sampling of shave ice. Check out Matsumoto’s Shave Ice (matsumotoshaveice.com)—it’s an institution.