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In the world of pro surfing, the North Shore on Oahu is considered “Mecca.” Famous “Sunset” and “Pipeline” beaches are where the professionals come to surf. But for me, one of my favorite places is on Oahu’s South Shore – Waikiki. I know you may think I am crazy, it’s crowded, there is no parking and it’s full of tourists getting surf lessons. But to me – it is always a party surfing wacky wonderful Waikiki.
In Hawaiian, “Waikiki” translates to “spouting fresh water” for streams and springs that once fed the wetlands in the area. Historically, the Waikiki area has long been a place for leisure. Popular for fishing, surfing and outrigger canoeing with ancient Hawaiians and later in the 1800’s, a retreat for Hawaiian royalty and a playground for celebrities and the wealthy.
While my sister is not a celebrity or wealthy nor royalty, she does live in England and a few years ago I took her for a lesson not knowing what to expect. She had the time of her life! The good news is that if you are a beginner, Waikiki is truly the best spot to learn. There are rental spots all along the beach and for lessons, the iconic “Waikiki Beach Boys.” These guys are amazing and for decades have been teaching celebrities, children and tourists from all over the globe. Many of them even speak fluent Japanese. The most famous beach boy is Duke Kahanamoku, who grew up on the shores of Waikiki and became the world’s greatest ambassador of surfing and aloha.
Now even after living in Hawaii for over ten years, the best thing I can do after working inside an office all day, is hitting the waters of Waikiki. Even if the waves are super small, I always enjoy myself. The energy of the other surfers, views of Diamond Head and the “pink hotel” and the spectacular sunset and hope of seeing that infamous “green flash.”
Waikiki is such an iconic spot, the backdrop for countless movies and commercials, weddings and serving as the hub of the Hawaii tourism industry. It is campy and kitschy and surfing the famous waves of Waikiki should be on everyone’s “must do list.” And also on that list, be sure to include a post surf Mai Tai to celebrate your rite of passage surfing wacky wonderful Waikiki.