When one conjures up iconic images of Hawaii, dazzling beaches, volcanoes and surfers riding the waves immediately come to mind. Long considered the mecca of surfing, Hawaii’s way of life is one shaped largely by a beach culture inescapable as part of an island chain. From the master surf championships on the North shore of Oahu to beginner schools in calmer coves off of Maui, surfing remains one of Hawaii’s favorite pastimes for locals and tourists alike.
Host to the “Triple Crown of Surfing” which include tournaments such as the Reef Hawaiian Pro, the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing and the Billabong Pipeline Masters, the North Shore of Oahu is home to some of the world’s most ideal surf conditions as well as the famed Banzai Pipeline. The Banzai Pipeline is a series of three reefs at varying depths which create tube like waves with a perfect barrel for surfers to ride. Only for the more advanced athletes, the Banzai Pipeline is a famed spot at which the biggest surf enthusiasts convene to hone their skills.
Further south on Oahu is Waikiki Beach, a well known tourist destination with calmer waves perfect for beginner surfers and learners alike. The first thing visitors notice when visiting Waikiki Beach is the statue of Olympic Gold Medalist and “Father of Modern Surfing” Duke Kahanamoku. Having grown up around Waikiki Beach and gone on to excel in the summer Olympics, Duke Kahanamoku is a Hawaiian hero, famous athlete and icon to surfers around the world.
Maui is another of the islands ripe with Hawaii surfing opportunities. Much like Oahu, the largest waves can be found off of Maui’s Northern coast; a spot best suited for well versed surfers and experienced watermen. However, Maui does offer many coves which produce smaller waves and calmer water, perfect for those just starting out. Under the knowledgeable instruction of a surfing teacher, Maui offers plenty of surf lessons and surf school options for beginner surfers or those who’ve never touched a board.
As with any sport, there is a level of sportsmanship and respect that should be bestowed upon fellow surfers. Being aware of your limits, your surroundings and respecting the beach are all an integral part of both surf and aloha culture. Hawaii surfing is a true test of athleticism and allows surfers to harness nature’s immense power. Treating both the islands and the sport with the reverence they deserve is a requirement for sportsmanship and safety alike.