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The North Shore – O’ahu

Ahhhhh, we’ve all heard about it and seen it in many TV shows and movies.  We know it’s the center of the Hawaiian surf scene and that it’s a really cool place; it’s also the home of “Matsumoto’s,” a great place to get “gen-u-whine” Hawaiian “Shave Ice.” (Please note that it is “shave” ice, not “shaved” ice.  The devil’s in the details…)

The North Shore, in the context of geography of the Island of O’ahu, refers to the north-facing coastal area of Oʻahu between Ka’ena Point and Kahuku Point. The largest settlement is Haleʻiwa. This area is best known for its massive waves, attracting surfers from all around the globe. The great advantage the North Shore has is that the waves that strike it come from the great storms in the northern Pacifc Ocean, and build over several thousand miles of unbroken “fetch” between the storms and O’ahu.  (It is interesting to note here, that when big waves travel long distances through the ocean, it is energy that moves, not the water itself.  But that’s a whole different story.)

Notable North Shore surfing spots include Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach.  The spot of Ehukai Beach, commonly known as the Banzai Pipeline, is the most notable surfing spot on the North Shore, and is considered a prime spot for competitions due to its close proximity to the beach, giving spectators, judges, and photographers a great view.

The North Shore is considered to be the surfing mecca of the world, and every December hosts three competitions, which make up the Triple Crown of Surfing. The three men’s competitions are the Reef Hawaiian Pro, the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing, and the Billabong Pipeline Masters. The three women’s competitions are the Reef Hawaiian Pro, the Roxy Pro Sunset, and the Billabong Pro on the neighboring island of Maui.

Waimea Bay plays host to the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau. This is an exclusive competition and participants must be invited. The competitions has a scheduled window of dates each winter, however the competition has a minimum requirement of 20 foot waves. Therefore, the competition is not held every year.

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