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Surfers are known, notorious even, for going to extremes to find quality, uncrowded surf. And as surf culture continues to spread across the globe, uncrowded surf is increasingly hard to come by. Surfers suffer endless air travel fraught with hassles, purposefully endure third world conditions, even brave perilous war zones in the pursuit of uncrowded perfection.
But some surfers in Waikiki have the savvy and the guts to take advantage of the night to enjoy (relatively) empty waves at one of the most crowded breaks in the world, Queen’s Beach. Every surfer knows the frustration of waiting through the night during a good swell to get in the water. It’s dangerous to be out in the ocean at night for a number of reasons, not being able to see being chief among them.
But Waikiki offers more advantages for night-surfing than most other breaks around the world. Clear skies throughout most of the year allow starlight and moonlight to reflect on the surface, which helps surfers discern subtle changes in the shimmer that indicate an approaching wave at night. And the number of high rise hotels greatly increases the amount of light at night. The biggest advantage, though, is the super-bright spotlighting that’s cast onto the break by the hotels fronting it.
It’s important to note that those who do surf at night in Waikiki are intimately familiar with the lineup at Queen’s. They know where to be and, more importantly, where not to be. There are several peaks at Queen’s, and it’s easy to be caught in a bad spot on even the sunniest afternoon. The people out at Queen’s at night could probably surf it with their eyes closed anyway.
Also, night-surfers never paddle out alone. There are no lifeguards on duty. And it’s dark. If you get into trouble, you’ve only got your mates to look after you. Otherwise, you’re on your own. It’s cold, too.
There’s nothing quite like getting a perfect wave to yourself, and getting one at Queen’s Beach on any given day is a rarity, a unicorn even. Getting one to yourself under the light of the moon as the stars spin overhead and Waikiki bustles in the glow of streetlights and neon is an entirely singular experience.
Night surfing in Waikiki is no great secret. When the waves are good and the night sky is clear, and particularly when the moon is brightest, there will always be a group of surfers in the water after sundown and well into the night. But it’s a fraction of the daytime crowd, and one that is categorically friendly. Maybe because everyone shares the feeling of getting away with something, scoring empty waves by simply taking a different approach.