It’s a ‘must see’ attraction in Haleiwa that welcomes people on their drive into the historic North Shore surf town. A road sign doesn’t seem like much, but this particular one is meant to capture the essence of the town — with none other than a surfer.
The stylish little dude’s getting tubed by the ‘HALEIWA’ place name. He’s wearing bright red shorts and riding the slick yellow board like a pro. There are actually two signs — one at each entrance to the town. The wave that the surfer’s riding could be at any break, really, since the North Shore’s known for its massive winter surf. Haleiwa, however, has its own popular big-wave break called Alii Beach. During advisory-level swells, it’s likely there will be surfers towing in with jet skis.
Everything about Haleiwa’s so simple. That’s why there’s an arrow on the sign with the words, ‘FOOD GAS SHOPS BEACHES’ written on it. These are the bare essentials for the laid-back ways of the North Shore; leave your worries behind and hit the beach! Definitely the kind of attitude to have on a Hawaiian vacation.
The signs have been there for decades, too, with as much history as the town itself. They attract tourists to their roadside locations, while some drive past for a swift snap-n-go pic. Either way, it’s a sure thing that both methods will end with the famous Hawaii landmarks dipping into the digital realm via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. #HistoricHaleiwa
Sadly, it’s not only tourists who are drawn to the Haleiwa signs but thieves and vandals as well. Over the years, the signs have been stolen and graffitied on more than one occasion. It happens overnight, and quickly, too. As you can imagine, the 5-by-8-feet signs are very heavy, and it’d be a difficult task for even two people to walk off with one; let alone, two of them!
If you were on Oahu several years ago, you might have noticed that the surfer “dude” was actually a ‘dudette.’ Wearing a bikini but still riding a shiny yellow board, a female surfer once welcomed visitors into the town — until those eventually got stolen, too. The community has since taken extra precaution to prevent theft and vandalism.
And it’s a good thing they did. The signs are a symbol of Hawaii. When visitors go home after a trip to the islands, they’ll remember the sign and then remember the refreshing strawberry shave ice they had at Matsumoto’s. Not having the signs around would not only leave Haleiwa incomplete but also, the memories visitors have of their Hawaiian vacation.
Posted by: Bruce Fisher