The Hawaii surf season has roared into life with huge waves and the world’s best surfers arriving en masse to its epicenter, the North Shore of Oahu. If you’re thinking of heading to surfing’s spiritual home, there are a few rules to remember.
As in life, it’s not so much a case of what to do, but what not to do. Here are the Hawaiian Anti-Commandments.
Don’t Bring Boards
With airlines traveling to Hawaii now charging on average $200 per board, each way, taking your boards to the Islands is now a very expensive business. Instead when on the North Shore buy a board from one of the surf shops in Haleiwa or on the stretch around Pipeline.
All have a stack of good secondhand boards, with the benefit of being crafted by Hawaiian shapers for Hawaiian waves. When you leave, either sell it or stash it there for your next visit.
Don’t Surf Pipeline
If you have visions of paddling out at big Pipeline, catching the wave of your life and flying home a hero, forget about it. The wave is too dangerous and the crowd too heavy for such fantasies.
“I waited 10 years for that wave,” Nic Von Rupp told GrindTV about the one seen in the above video. “I have surfed it every year since I was 14, and that was the first time in a decade I was sitting in the right position for a proper Pipe set.”
Additionally, there are so many other waves so close by that there is no need. Even the 3-mile stretch from Waimea to Haleiwa has at least 20 different breaks, from easy rollers at Chuns to lumbering walls at Laniakea. Leave Pipeline as a purely spectator sport.
Don’t Go Unfit
Hawaii is not the place to wing it. Almost every break on the North Shore features powerful swells and deep, strong currents. Some of the best waves — breaks such as Sunset, Jockos and Haleiwa, for example — need a super-strong rip to make the waves happen.
By being properly fit, you will not only be able to stay calm when or if things go wrong, but you will also be able to catch a lot more waves. Oh, and a few extra muscles won’t hurt when you are chatting up the bikini babes or boardshort beaus on the beach.
Don’t Believe The Hype
Unlike much of what is seen in the media and online, Hawaii is not the unfriendly, aggressive place it is portrayed to be. The North Shore, remarkably, still has a small-town feel with a lack of development and a cruisey alternative vibe.
The bars, shops, roadside kitchens and supermarkets are staffed by great friendly crew, and, it being a melting pot of travel and surf culture, it is ridiculously easy to strike up conversations and make friends. By showing consideration and respect, most people leave Hawaii with a love of its waves and its people.
Don’t wear shoes indoors
For some reason that involves sweeping sand, wearing shoes indoors in Hawaii is seen as the most disrespectful act you can perpetrate in the islands. In terms of crimes against humanity, it lies just above murder.
Only last year a senior GoPro executive made the mistake of wearing his shoes into the Volcom House, one of the most infamous local haunts that sits opposite Pipeline. His penalty? Ten new cameras to the boys in the house.
If you don’t have access to loads of high-value tech goods, it’s easier just to take your sandals off.
Don’t Go Just Once
“I’ve been coming here for 26 years, and I never tire of it,” two-time world champion Tom Carroll told GrindTV. “It’s like a second home and I learn something every time, be it about the waves or the people. To get the most out of Hawaii, you really need to do the time.”
That’s because it takes times to get your surfboards right. It takes time to find where the best Mai Tais are. It takes time to build your knowledge and your courage and to meet the right people who will teach you the right lessons.
Not going to Hawaii is a crime for anyone who calls themselves a surfer. Going just once is far, far worse.
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