It’s late March and you think the Hawaii season is done and dusted? Think again. Late season swells still march in, the crowd factor has reached manageable levels and Rocky Point will always offer some type of wave. What are you waiting for?
Located bang smack in the middle of the North Shore stretch, at the midpoint between Pipe to the south and Sunset to the north, Rockies, as its known, is the performance wave in Hawaii. It’s also the most accessible and consistent for ordinary surfers, breaking from two foot till it starts maxing out about eight, providing (most of the time) some relatively light entertainment from the North Shore’s more usual death and glory fare.
As it’s name suggests, the waves breaks in front of a rocky outcrop of lava rock, in between the breaks of Kammies and Gas Chambers. There’s two access lanes that come off the Kam Highway which lead straight to the break. Alternatively simply look for the usual mass gathering of photographers huddled on the beach, their massive lenses trained on the various fin wafts, hacks, tubes and aerials that Rockies throws up.
In keeping with the easy naming, Rocky Point actually has two waves, Rocky Lefts and Rocky Rights. However with the wave being determined by the amount and position of sand over the reef, where each one starts and finishes is sometimes hard to fathom. There is no real defined take off zones, with strong currents and rips forever tugging you out (and rarely) in to position. A strong set of paddling arms is one of the prerequisites for surfing here.
The paddle out for both breaks though is the same. Simply walk 100 metres north up the beach of the rocky outcrop (towards Sunset). There an inshore current will zip you out and even further northwards. Once out the back, the out-shore current will drag you rapidly south, towards the rippy waves and often intense crowds of Rocky lefts.
The lefts throw up on the odd tube, but more likely 100 metres of chunky sections perfect for big turns. While often best at around 4-6 foot, the power of the waves is phenomenal, meaning a bigger boards can come in handy. Be warned though the relatively playful nature of the waves shouldn’t let you forget that underneath is razor sharp lava which if you get caught inside can rip boards, skin and egos to shreds. And as always the local factor is hugely important. It may not be 10 foot death kegs at Pipe, but the locals here still get the best waves.
Often the rip will drag you south and before you realise you have joined the pack on Rocky Rights. Try and aim yourself up with the Jones house which sits directly in adjacent to the lane. The Jones boys, Mikala and Daniel have lived there since kids and understandably rule Rocky Rights whenever it is on (as seen in the clip below).
The Rights tends to be faster and hollower, with a mach speed attainable. Another warning though, they tend to deposit you in a very shallow section of rock that can be diabolical, especially when a set from Gas Chamber, only 50 metres to the south comes in and tries to drag your limbs away from your body. Sometimes its best to make your way to shore, run back up the beach (taking in the beautiful scenery, not to mention the scantily clad sunbaking ladies) and jump back in the rip on the Rocky Lefts side and start one of the world’s most fantastic surfing loops all over again.
And speaking of loops, you can always try one of these.
The perfect day
A February morning sees sunny skies, offshore winds and a six foot swell. Everywhere on the north shore is breaking, leaving you to choose between joining half a dozen crew on the wally lefts or racy rights.
Jan-March: The pros have left the island, the sand has been hammered into perfection and the swells keep marching in.
Fly into Honolulu, hire a car and drive an hour to the North Shore.
Go two or three inches above your normal shortboard. There’s power here, but its enjoyable to have a shortboard under your feet.
The early surf is key here. Get up at dawn and you can have an hour surf with just a few people.
Hit the Plantation village backpackers (backpackers-hawaii.com), close to the supermarket and within walking distance of Rockies
Uhm, just a few secret spots like Sunset, Pipe, Off The Wall and Waimea.