What is it? A volcanic island chain almost smack bang in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, when someone says they are ‘Going to Hawaii’, they usually mean the main island of Oahu. Oahu gets surf on four sides, but the best, the most famous, and that in prime season with the northern hemi winter, is the North Shore, aka the Seven Mile Miracle. While it might be seven miles long, there’s not a great deal miraculous about it. I mean, the surf is good but there’s little evidence of feeding the five thousand, healing the blind, resurrection, virgin birth, etc etc.
Why go there? Why not? There’s only so many times a man can go to the Maldives, Costa Rica or Sri Lanka and still call himself a man. You have to look at yourself in the mirror, you have to sleep at night. You are a surfer. Thus, somehow, in some strange way, part Hawaiian! The thing is, nobody – except round the world backpackers – goes to Hawaii once. Once you go once, you’re hooked.
What boards to bring? Probably just a couple of shortboards and get the rest over there. They’re reasonably priced second hand, and it just feels a lot cooler stroking out in the channel at Sunset on an island gun rather than one made by your shaper back home, whose otherwise respected logo will suddenly look wack on the North Shore.
Where to surf? As a general rule, heroes, legends, pros, sticker darlings and anyone radder than you will surf the stretch between Waimea and V-Land. Actually, let’s narrow that down, they will surf OTW, Backdoor/Pipe or Rocky Point 95% of the time. The stretch between Waimea and Haleiwa is mainly made up of breaks further from shore and thus less photogenic. Sunset is the ‘world’s best straighthander’ and should be surfed as much as possible as big as you can handle. Surfing Sunset is one of those ‘legit’ things you must do in life, whether you actually enjoy it or not.
Will I get knocked the fuck out? Unlikely. You’ve surely heard all the stories but in truth, you are much more likely to have enjoyable sex than suffer violence. Statistics don’t lie: I know loads of people who have made love on the North Shore, and only one who has ever been beaten up, and it was pretty much her own fault.
General hazards: Obesity (think high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oil in everything that comes in a packet), drugs, bankruptcy.
Will the waves hurt when they land on me? Probably, yes. Oahu’s North Shore is paddle surfable from 1ft to 25ft, (which, incidentally, is about ‘60ft’ in recent units) and there is a good chance a wipeout or perhaps worse – getting caught inside – will be extremely unpleasant. You could stand on the beach pondering should I, shouldn’t I, perhaps saying something like, “It’s the things we don’t do in life that we end up regretting…” to yourself. But then, you notice an 11-year-old girl paddling out and deliberation stops. You’re out there!