The surf in Hawaii is predictably unpredictable. It is a safe bet that waves on the North Shore will be higher in winter than in summer, but just how high they will be varies by day. This requires flexibility, as pro surfers demonstrated this week.
The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing got underway this week, drawing crowds to the North Shore of Oahu. The men’s competition is the Reef Hawaiian Pro and the women’s competition is the Cholo’s Women’s Pro at Haleiwa Alii Beach Park. Monday provided big waves for the men’s competition, but yesterday the women had much smaller waves, with three to six foot wave faces. A Kauai surfer, Nae Melamed, told the Star Advertiser newspaper that she traded in her big board for a smaller wave board and was more successful.
The surf contests do not run every day, they are held only when conditions appear to be suitable. The weather forecast for today includes a prediction that a new ocean swell will provide North Shore waves of six to twelve feet, which will allow Day 3 surfing to proceed. The surf contests usually begin around 8 am and conclude around 4 pm.
We were on the North Shore yesterday, and Haleiwa was hoppin’ with locals and tourists alike gathered to watch the waves and surf competition. Perhaps because all the attention was focused there, we found nearby Sunset Beach to be nearly empty. It had a great view of the waves with none of the crowds.
If you want to watch professional surf competitions, you can plan to be on the North Shore in Hawaii during the winter, but you will still need to be flexible as the competition is dictated by the waves. If you’d like to avoid crowds but still see the surf, you can do as we did and pick a nearby beach with no organized activities. Either way, whether you see the epic big waves always includes an element of luck.