The North Shore: an Introduction to the Proving Grounds


The North Shore of Oahu is the place to be if you’re an aspiring surfer, bodyboarder, or waterman looking to make a name for yourself in the industry. It’s got incredibly consistent, quality surf, and the ideal backdrops for jaw-dropping, print-worthy images. But don’t think it’s as easy as packing your board and hopping on a flight. Swells are big, powerful—sometimes rogue—and the lineup is fiercely competitive.

Good luck paddling out at Pipe and think you’re entitled to getting a set wave. Ain’t happening’, brah. Locals take priority.

The stretch of varying reef breaks and treacherous shorey is referred to as the Seven-Mile Miracle. Essentially, there isn’t much need to travel elsewhere on the island in search of surf. The season starts around October, peaks between December and February, and runs through April with north and westerly swells hitting the coast after being generated by powerful storm systems in the North Pacific. The winters on the North Shore attract a circus of surfers and photographers, crowding lineups competing for the perfect barrel, potential wave of the winter, cover shot, and of course, physical licking of a lifetime.

We ventured to the Pacific Island chain during one of the most publicized surf competitions, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, a three-part series consisting of events at Halewia Beach Park (Reef Hawaiian Pro), Sunset Beach (Vans World Cup of Surfing), and Pipeline (Billabong Pipe Masters). During our visit we spent some time hanging at the GoPro Media Shack at Rocky Point with three well-established professional surfers and GoPro athletes—Mark Healey, Jamie O’Brien, and Anthony Walsh.

Healey discusses his big wave surfing expeditions and the physical and mental demands; O’Brien breaks down Pipeline, one of the scariest (and beautiful) waves in the world; and Walsh shares some secrets to shooting with the GoPro like a real professional.

Congratulations to John Florence for taking the #1 spot in the SURFER POLL; ending Kelly Slater’s 10 year reign.

Dusty Payne for winning the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Halewia Beach Park

Michel Bourez for winning the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach

Billabong Pipeline Masters is currently running. Head over to for on-going coverage.

Additional footage provided by GoPro. Additional photography provided by Shawn Parkin.

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