Where to surf when North Shore is BIG

Discussion in 'Hawaiian Islands' started by NJSurfer6180, Nov 15, 2016.

  1. NJSurfer6180

    NJSurfer6180 Member

    9
    Nov 15, 2016
    All,

    Wife and I are coming for a couple of weeks this winter, staying in Oahu. I surf in NJ all year and am comfortable in surf up to 3' OH (generally beach break).

    When it's straight pumping like it is now (15-20ft+), are there any more sheltered spots/areas of the island that mortals such as myself can retreat to? Will a N or NW swell bend to the W side of the island to the point that it's rideable?

    Feel free to PM if you don't want to give spots out on here.

    Thanks
     
  2. Valhallalla

    Valhallalla Well-Known Member

    Jan 24, 2013
    Every single one of the six thousand one hundred and seventy nine surfers from New Jersey that came before you started a Hello tread prior to asking questions here such as this. Please include pics and details aboot your sexual preferences and sand reconne skills. Do it. Otherwise eat my f*uck.
     

  3. DawnPatrol321

    DawnPatrol321 Well-Known Member

    Mar 6, 2012
  4. MrMacdugal

    MrMacdugal Well-Known Member

    355
    Aug 19, 2011
    Bring your thickest wetsuite. It will protect you from coral heads and hardened locals.
    No hello threade means no restecpa
     
  5. NJSurfer6180

    NJSurfer6180 Member

    9
    Nov 15, 2016
    Thanks, great advice here
     
  6. NJSurfer6180

    NJSurfer6180 Member

    9
    Nov 15, 2016
    Really insightful, thanks. Do you bring your SUP there?
     
  7. stinkbug

    stinkbug Well-Known Member

    746
    Dec 21, 2010
    Yes there will be wrap on both the west and east sides on a NW swell.
    East sides will get smaller the further you go around. But there is usually a trade wind over there too chopping it up real bad and making conditions less than ideal.
    West side may still be quite big on a NW swell, Makaha etc. can still be very big on a NW swell.
    It's not usually 15-20 feet+ up on the entire north shore. I've seen Sunset and Pipeline pretty big and Chuns and Lani's (mortal waves) like head high little bigger.
    Watch the swell sizes. if you pull onto the north shore and Chuns and Lani's are too big for you, don't even bother with the rest off the north shore, it only gets bigger and gnarlier the further you go.
    The problem it once you are on the north shore, getting to the west side is a long drive.
    Maybe you will get a giant swell 30'+ and just get to watch at Waimea when the entire north shore is washed out.
    Enjoy, you will find waves.
     
  8. stinkbug

    stinkbug Well-Known Member

    746
    Dec 21, 2010
  9. DawnPatrol321

    DawnPatrol321 Well-Known Member

    Mar 6, 2012
    No, but I would bring my short boards and my HPLB.
     
  10. NJSurfer6180

    NJSurfer6180 Member

    9
    Nov 15, 2016
    Thank you! Just scanning google earth led me to Makaha so i'm keeping that on my 'drive' list.
     
  11. Toonces

    Toonces Well-Known Member

    353
    Apr 25, 2016
    It came as a surprise to me that a great deal of the North Shore can't handle really big surf. Like, once you get over about 15' faces a lot of breaks start to shut down. I didn't expect that.

    You're on the right track going and scouting the west side for surf if the North Shore is maxing out. The west side comes with its own set of challenges. One of the more popular and crowded spots on the west side is Tracks. If you don't have anywhere better in mind, this is worth checking on a big swell- it always seemed far more reasonable. Despite the crowds, it is possible to get waves there, especially if you're going mid-day, mid-week.

    A Google search should turn up some of the other more popular west side spots. Some simple advice: be respectful of the locals- simple surf etiquette will keep you out of trouble, absolutely do NOT leave anything valuable at all in your car, and if you don't see anybody at all at what appears to be a rideable break be very cautious about paddling out. While I've gotten solo surf on the west side, it's pretty rare. Regardless, spending some time figuring out the lineup and channels before you paddle out is always a good idea anyway.

    Diamond Head won't get much north swell, but might have tradewind swell and is always an option.

    Kalaeloa is also a choice; if you drive up to the western exposures you can get some wrap.
     
  12. Barry Cuda

    Barry Cuda Guest

    Go to hotel swimming pool....
     
  13. waterbaby

    waterbaby Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2012
    Coming from the east coast, pretty sure you're not going to be able to handle anything other than summer on the north shore. You want to surf winter north shore?, move there and build up to it for about 6 months. If you can't put in that time, just surf south shore.
     
  14. smitty517

    smitty517 Well-Known Member

    713
    Oct 30, 2008
    Puaena Point. East of Haleiwa across the channel. South shore always has waves so definitely an option.
     
  15. BassMon2

    BassMon2 Well-Known Member

    Jan 27, 2015
    Never been to Hawaii. A buddy of mine hopes every year though and has been for awhile. He's like 20 years older then me. Anyway, he's told me basically what others have already mentioned. If the north shore is huge there are other options west and even south. Can't help with exact details since i don't have experience there but just saying from what i hear there should be options for you. And watching the pros on the north shore should be fun
     
  16. stinkbug

    stinkbug Well-Known Member

    746
    Dec 21, 2010
    This is an ignorant response. Look at all the east coast guys that rip Hawaii all winter long.
    It's not 20-30 feet on the north shore every day, nor it is all Pipeline or OTW where you have to be a expert surfer to surf it. There are plenty of "mortal" spots to surf on the north shore, even in winter.
     
  17. kidde rocque

    kidde rocque Well-Known Member

    Mar 6, 2016
    I gotta ask...

    Isn't the West Side still a kind of place where non-West Siders (aka, "haoles") might seriously get their sh!t thrown in da waddah?
     
  18. JayD

    JayD Well-Known Member

    Feb 6, 2012
    I think waterbaby makes a pretty good pointe! If we assume that OP has never surfed outside of NJ/East Coast, there is a good chance the North Shore in the winter will be challenging and possibly dangerous.

    If OP has some experience in traveling or has been surfing the EC for 20+ years and surfs some heavy dayz in the Dirty Jerz, he may be able to pick and choose some sessions.

    I would first get very familiar with the buoy reports. The reports work a bit different out there due to the location of buoys (you have a little time on a rising swell to prepare...to not be in the water). The one thing that I want to underscore (by experience) is...If you are out, under gunned, and the swell is rising quickly, you could find yourself in a tough situation and with no experience, that could be a struggle. The Hawaiian waters tend to move a lot...tons of current, and strong paddling is a requisite.

    Still, with all of that said, you can score on the North Shore in the winter. Work within rising swells and dropping swells. Know when a swell is peaking. I would say that 4-7' at 13-15 seconds should be your threshold. If you start seeing the buoy jump then you know...don't go. 8' @ 15+ seconds is a pretty strong swell for all of the name brand spots on the North Shore.

    The West side gets a wrap (Especially with some West in the swell). Whoever said Tracks, may or may not be giving good advice. It definitely is not as big there and can get very good. You will definitely wait your turn and don't look at anybody wrong. There are other lesser known spots on westside that can get very good to on a big WNW swell....you will need to do some homework to find those.

    Now, if it is a big N swell, there are some spots around the island that can get very good too...that are not on the NS. Depending on winds and you even being able to find said breaks. And finally, diamond head picks up wind swell and you could get waist to head high surf just about anytime and it can be fun and may be more appropriate.

    If you are not used to surfing waves with consequence and large open ocean swells drilling you to the reef, I would be very careful. my .02.
     
  19. smitty517

    smitty517 Well-Known Member

    713
    Oct 30, 2008
    I have been there many times. Guess how many sessions at pipeline or sunset.....ZERO. There are tons of places to surf that aren't in the magazines. Best surf of my life at a no-name spot. The other advice is solid. Be very weary of rising swell. I've been out in slightly overhead surf and been obliterated by huge sets. It's actually kind of interesting as the sneaker sets roll the whole lineup. Looks like a yard sale after the sets roll thru.
     
  20. Toonces

    Toonces Well-Known Member

    353
    Apr 25, 2016
    That was me that said Tracks. It's a crowded break, and that typically turned me off from surfing there for years. Since it's on Surfline I'll just throw it out there- my personal favorite west side spot is Ma'ili. For some reason Ma'ili wasn't breaking right one day, and I was already on the west side so I decided to just throw myself into the crowd at Tracks and see what happened. I got plenty of waves, and it's a fun spot for what it is. And you can see it right from the road and there is a huge parking lot, and enough of a crowd that you don't really have to worry about too much agro in my experience. I only surfed there maybe a half dozen times.

    Ma'ili is a great spot, but -again, in my opinion- it's an intermediate to advanced spot. I'm reluctant to recommend it to an east coaster's first trip to Hawaii. I've always found current out there, sometimes a lot. There is that dry reef in front of the peak, and if you don't have the lineup locked down it is very easy to get drawn too far south and get into trouble. That's a break where a board that paddles really really well- like a thick 7'6 - is warranted on a good day.

    There are more nooks and crannies all along the west side, but through time I just figured if Tracks and Ma'ili weren't good there was no sense in continuing up the west side. It only gets more localized the further up you go. But I never had any trouble at all between Kalaeloa and Ma'ili. Just don't leave anything in your car- and that goes for most of Oahu in general.

    Puaena Point can handle a really big swell. But everyone that's avoiding the really big surf on the North Shore will also be there.

    If it's really macking on the North Shore, I'd head to the west side, check a couple spots, and if you're not comfortable work back to Kalaeloa and then browse the south shore on the way to Diamond Head.

    The North Shore isn't 20' every day in the winter. A competent east coaster should be able to deal with Ehukai or maybe Lani's up to about double overhead. There's value it maybe chatting up a lifeguard before paddling out to get the deal on the channels and such first. Lani's can be a real ***** to get in from if you don't know what you're doing.