^^ absolutely right, I was just out there in May. Waikiki was crowded as hell, BUT I hung on the outside and got the clean up sets - Got 5 looooooooong waves in 45 mins, then did the 15 min paddle in. The other spots were empty and clean, but make sure you talk to somebody before heading out at an empty break - sometimes there's a reason nobodys out. But give respect and be friendly and wait your turn, and you'll get plenty of waves. At least I did, and I'm as pastey white as they come.
Sandblaster: Not to tie up this thread either, but you may want to add a few other choices on the CA coast. As many of us have stated on here, don't fall to the misconceptions of crowds, earth quakes and high prices. There are empty, outstanding waves for the taking all over southern CA on it's best days. The prices are no higher than anywhere else you mentioned and the earthquakes aint sh**. Plenty of schools ALL OVER soCal, with some of the most insanely hot Wahines on earth. Like I said, it's all about what you want out of life.
If it's just school and waves, move anywhere from San Diego to Oregon, or any island in Hawaii and you will be set for all of your needs. The rest is just splitting hairs about water temps and crowds. If you don't mind a wetsuit, CA is the bizness. Water gets colder on HHI in the winter than anywhere in the state of CA.
ive had some cold ass days here and in the obx i know cali temps dont compare, maybe northern ca or Oregon but it seems like its muggy and 20foot half the year. i dont think i could live in san diego big cities kind of intimidate me, im not used to all the concrete and people, traffic drives me nuts. so cal would be nice but it looks like its just city after city after city. santa Barbara might be cool but it looks like the channel islands would block a lot of south swell. im under the impression that morro bay and pismo beach areas wouldnt be as good as like santa cruz down to mont. i have no real risk in moving to any of these places other than going back to the ec. if waves are awesome i dont mind a 4/3 year round. night life...i could give or take it.
oh and mis did you ever ship a car to hawaii?
hey if i could leave the states it would be easy...nz/aus or indo, maybe costa. def wouldnt go north of santa cruz i would have to turn into a lumber jack or perhaps a hipster...damn i hate them, ive noticed colleges have a lot of those. i bet Copenhagen cost 5$ a can in cali or hawaii. do people in California wave dixie flags? i.e on their cars and such?
Blasters, maui is good times. Can get just as crowded as anywhere. The crowds are annoying, generally filled with white guys who have lived here a few years so they think they own the place. It really makes you see why the locals hate whitey.
Other than that its like 4-5 small towns on one island. Kahului/wailuku, paia/haiku, upcountry, kihei, and lahaina/westside/upper westside. Oh and hana, but thats really only to visit.
California is nice, nor cal is cold. Above SF you will be in AT LEAST a 4/3 all year. Santa Cruz you can maybe cheat in the summer in a 3/2.
The Monterey Bay turns on and gets every bit as big and gnarly and epic as Hawaii. It takes some effort, and the locals aren't much help (I found many of them to be jerks), but it's not too hard to figure out. I lived there for one year and found dozens of spots that work on swell and wind from any direction. It's fun to explore, though it can get lonely. From one who lived in both Monterey and Oahu, I found the former to be much scarier on a big day, but I rarely had to fight crowds. Sure, Steamer Lane and all the Santa Cruz spots get packed, but there are plenty of sketch reefs on the Monterey Peninsula that offer a unique experience very similar to New England reefs. I loved the place, but that's just me.
Can't speak for Hawaii but I'm sure it's awesome. Monterey or Santa Cruz more specifically is somewhere I've been and I would go there in a heart beat, surf is consistent and world class, cool people from what I found, not a big city but stuff to do. You'll fit in a lot better there too. It's a bit Country out that way, I bet fishing and hunting is a blast. Easy access to many nearby cities with various cultures and unique landscapes, and a short flight to Hawaii if you still wanna go.