During the winter surf season, Oahu’s north shore starts to look a lot like Waikiki. Hundreds of beach-goers scatter throughout the stretch of sand, hoping to get a good view of the wave show in front. They ooh and ahh as each towering tube swallows surfer after surfer and gasp at the monster sets rolling in from the outside.

If it’s the time of the Van’s Triple Crown contest, then expect it to be especially crowded at Haleiwa Beach, Sunset Beach and Pipeline. The contest series moves from one beach to the next during a month-long period on the north shore, but the Pipe contest is always the most popular. That’s because Pipe is not only one of the heaviest waves in the world, but it’s also where the Triple Crown victor will be crowned.

Every year, we try to make it out to the Pipe contest. Finding parking can be a challenge, so we usually just grab the first roadside opening we see and walk from there. It’s always best to be prepared, so make sure to pack sun protection, beach towels, a cooler of drinks and snacks, and most importantly, your camera! There will be several food trucks and stands around the area, but just be prepared to pay a pretty penny.

There’s no doubt that winter on the north shore (of any island) can be an exciting time for everyone. You can almost feel the buzz surrounding this part of the island, as it radiates within each surfer, spectator and sunbather. So if you’re in Hawaii during the winter months, be sure to make the north shore a stop on your list!

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