Surviving The North Shore

For many surfers the North Shore of Oahu has a unique pull. It is the place where surfing experienced it’s coming of age and where every year pro surfers from around the globe come to compete in the Van’s Triple Crown of Surfing.

With the island experiencing a massive influx of surfers every year tensions have risen and often boiled over, resulting in dressing downs, abuse and on occasion violence. Not a pretty picture but one that is in the back of every travelling surfers mind. As well as the waves, some of those have the ability to switch from the stuff of dreams to the stuff of nightmares in a split second.

So with that in mind here are a few tips to survive your first North Shore trip:

  1. Don’t drop in on people. Goes without saying really but you’d be surprised how often it happens. Locals don’t take kindly to fresh of the plane tourists ruining their waves, especially when many of the heavier breaks have serious consequences if you stuff up.
  2. Respect the locals. Again goes without saying. Be polite and respectful and you won’t have a problem. I stuck by this rule and on a couple of occasions got shouted into waves by local guys, something I never expected.
  3. Know your limits. Don’t paddle out at 12ft Pipe when the craziest wave you’ve surfed was that rogue 4ft one at your local beachie. In fact if that’s the case don’t paddle out at Pipe at all.
  4. Don’t rent a car. The North Shore isn’t that big, you can walk from Waimea to Pipe in less than 20mins. By having a rental you miss out on an essential North Shore Experience, hitch-hiking, you never know who could stop, the hot surf chicks, local charger or even internationally renowned big wave hellman.
  5. Pipeline isn’t the only wave on the North Shore. Sunset Beach is a short bike ride away, as is Velzy’s and various other breaks, look around and you’ll find somewhere without the big crowd.
  6. Get a Foodland discount card. If you plan on staying for anything more than a few days these will save you a few dollars, beer becomes affordable and you pack your sandwiches more so it’s worth the minute or two to sign up.


If you follow these guidelines your time on the North Shore should be pretty easy going, leaving you with memories you won’t forget.

From L to R: Myself, Big Wave Hellman Garrett McNamara, Kyle.



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