10 Things You Shouldn’t Do When You Go On A Surf Trip To Hawaii
Surfing in Hawaii might sound like paradise. Just make sure you don't do this...
Every surfer should go to Hawaii. It’s the birthplace of modern surfing and has amazing waves and incredible history.
However, if you do go, there’s a few rules that need to be adhered to. Sometimes it’s easier to know what not to do, so here are the 10 Hawaiian Anti-Commandments.
Read carefully, then book your flights.
Don't Bring Boards
With airlines traveling to Hawaii now charging on average $US200 per board, each way, taking your boards to the Islands is now a very expensive business.
When you add in the fact that you are very likely to snap at least one or many of your sleds from your favourite quiver, it makes more sense to pitch up and buy your boards there.
Check out the surf shops in Haleiwa or on the stretch around Pipeline which all have a stack of good second hand boards, with the benefit of being shaped by Hawaiian shapers for Hawaiian waves.
You effectively have 400 bucks to spend before you are behind and if you snap them it’s no big deal.
If you manage to keep them intact, even better, find a place to stash them and you’ll have the start of a Hawaiian quiver for your next trip.
Don't Surf Pipeline
Okay, so you may have vision of paddling out at Pipeline (one of the heaviest breaks in the world), catching the wave of your life and flying home a hero.
Well, sorry but it ain’t going to happen. If it does, it is going to take a long long time.
“I waited ten years for that wave," Nic Von Rupp told Mpora, after catching a Pipe bomb last December. “I have surfed it every year since I was 14, and that was first time in a decade I was sitting in the right position for a proper Pipe set."
Now we don’t mean to be all negative. Why wouldn’t you want to surf the world’s most famous wave? Well it’s gnarly for starters, and it’s crowded for seconds. Plus it is always being watched, so any mistakes can come back to haunt you.
A whistle coming from the Volcom house that overlooks the break, signalling that someone has dropped in or done something wrong at Pipeline, is one of the most panic inducing sounds in surfing.
Additionally there are so many other waves in close proximity that there is no need. Even the stretch from Waimea to Haleiwa has at least 20 different breaks, from easy rollers at Chuns to lumbering racers at Laniakea.
Pipe is Pipe. It is special, crazy wave, but we’d recommend you leave it for the pros.
Don't Arrive On 15th November
November and December see around 200 of the world’s best surfers arrive in Hawaii to prove themselves.
They have stickers, they have talent, they have youth and they have a lot of photographers who want to take their photo.
When you add that to the fierce locals and normal tourists, you can see why it might be a good time to avoid.
We advise to arrive mid December, that way you might still luck into the final of the Pipe Masters and then settle in as all the pros leave town.
The time between Christmas and New Year often feature great waves and very little crowds, while January and February have the classic offshore days and consistent swell. The locals are (hopefully) surfed out and life is a whole lot easier.
Don't Go Unfit
Hawaii is not the place to kid yourself or wing it.
Almost every break features powerful swells and deep strong currents. Some of the best waves, breaks such as Sunset, Jockos and Haleiwa, need a super strong rip to make the waves happen.
By being as fit as you have ever been in your life, you will not only be able to stay calm when (not if) things go wrong, but you will also be able to catch a lot more waves.
There is nothing more dangerous than being physically tired when confronted with true Hawaiian power. At least three months of proper gym, swim and flexibility training is needed. Every session at home, will mean a better surf session in Hawaii.
Don't Believe The Hype
Hawaii is not the unfriendly, aggressive place it is portrayed to be in the media.
The North Shore, remarkably, still has a small town vibe, with a lack of development and a cruisy alternative vibe. The bars, shops and supermarkets are staffed by great friendly crew, and the melting pots of travel and surf culture mean it is ridiculously easy to strike up conversations and make friends.
The little roadside vans selling Thai, Mexican and local food are great places to pull up a chair and have a chat.
Sure, violence does happen. There can be an edge in the water, but by showing consideration and respect, most people leave Hawaii with a love of its waves and its people.
Don't Leave Your Shit In Your Car
This may go against what we just said, but it is still not a good idea to leave any valuables in your car when you go surfing.
This is a transient place with people coming in from all over the world and who can disappear easily. Additionally Hawaii has one of the highest per capita problems of drug addiction in the whole USA, most notably crystal meth.
Now ice addicts are not known for their work ethic and long term financial stability, so any surfboards, cameras, phones, wallets and loose change tends to be fair game.
There is only one thing worse than coming in from a surf to find your stuff nicked, and that’s dealing with the Hawaiian State Police and nasty insurance companies.
Don't Wear Shoes Indoors
For some reason, wearing shoes indoors in Hawaii is the most disrespectful act you can perpetrate on the Islands.
In fact in terms of crimes against humanity, it lies just above having sex with your sister and drowning children.
Only last year, a senior Go Pro executive made the mistake of wearing his shoes into the Volcom House. His penalty? Ten new cameras to the boys in the house.
Other rules to remember - never to drive too fast in the side streets (people have been dragged out of cars and taught that lesson) and never surf the break of Velzyland.
There are many others, but if you remember those three, you should be sweet.
Don't Get Stuck On Oahu
The North Shore is a fantastic part of the surfing earth, but at only five miles long, it is very small slice of Hawaii.
The East Coast of Oahu offers beautiful scenery and uncrowded waves, while Makaha on the west coast is an undervalued big wave spot with an iconic history.
"Kauai is quite possibly the best surf destination in the world," Joel Parkinson, 2012 World Champ, told Mpora before adding a caveat, "if you know the right people."
It is a paradise and has (well guarded, but accessible) waves of mind-numbing quality.
Maui also offers way more than just the incredible Jaws (although watching that break is worth the trip alone) and Honolua Bay, as seen in the recent women's World Title decider.
Inter-island flights are cheap and regular, plus accommodation is often easily sourced. Sometimes it's easy to get caught in the North Shore bubble with its waves and exciting atmosphere, but exploration will bring rewards.
Don't Do Two Nights In Waikiki
Waikiki isn’t all bad. When the waves are big on the North Shore, small perfect rollers come into Waikiki providing the perfect loggers waves and a welcome de-adrenaline fix from the North Shore’s bone crunchers.
The bars are fun, both the normal kind and ones featuring ladies swinging around poles. The Outrigger is justifiably famous. To sit and share a few lagers here after a day at the beach is a true pleasure.
But however much fun you are having in Waikiki, do not do a second night. You are in Hawaii to surf and Waikiki, while a fun diversion, will stop you surfing.
You might think shopping malls are fun for a change or that room service in a fancy hotel beats cereal at the Backpackers.
Forget all that. Waikiki is not a place for surfers. Get in, get out, go surfing.
Don't Go Just Once
“I’ve been coming here for 26 years, and I never tire of it," said two times World Champion Tom Carroll to Mpora. “It’s like a second home and I learn something every time, be it about the waves, or the people. To get the most out of Hawaii, you really need do the time."
See, there’s a reason surfers keep coming back to Hawaii every year. No where else has the power, the history and the waves. With so many waves packed into its waters and so many moods for each and every wave, you can’t go just once.
It takes time to get your surfboards right. It takes time to find where the best Mai Tais are. It takes time to build your knowledge and your courage, to meet the right people who will teach you the right lessons.
Not going to Hawaii is a crime for anyone who calls themselves a surfer. Going just once is far, far worse.