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How To Survive the North Shore

June 18th, 2013

While surf board designs and surfing styles may change over the years, the North Shore of Oahu will always remain surfing’s greatest home. As a spot that prides itself on its unrelenting punishment, it’s a wonder at anyone returns, but come November, the surf world returns with dreams of Pipeline’s deep barrels. Thankfully we have some tips that might ensure your survival when taking on some of the best waves on the planet.

Keep it slow

On the North Shore it’s important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Make sure you are know of the size and consistency of the surf. Seek landmarks on the beach, keep an eye on the currents, be aware of the hole situation situation, it will keep from unnecessary danger.

Get a good position

The best waves tend to break in same place. Find where this is and position yourself there. You don’t want to be paddling around the lineup like a loon. You need to position yourself so that you’re in a best place to get the best waves. The don’t you want is to find yourself on the inside or in someone’s way. Messing this up either gets you run over, caught inside or punched!

Stay committed

Keep focused when you’re paddling for a each wave. It gets really messy in the lineup, so it’s vital to commit to your waves. If you keep pulling back and second-guessing yourself, other surfers will start doubting your commitment and ability.

Know your ability

Always follow your gut, not what other surfers tell you. Surf spots that are suited for your ability or wait till conditions favour your skill level. Equipment is really important on the North Shore. A bigger board can make a huge difference! You don’t want to be paddling out to 10ft windy Sunset on your 6’0” board. It is the North Shore, surfing proving grounds. There are loads of spots to choose from so make sure you pick which one is best for you.

Don’t be out gunned

Most people aren’t able to paddle out to Pipe and sit under the ledge on a short board like Bruce, Jamie or John John Florence, this takes a great level of skill. Beginners are going to need some more board underneath them to surf these kind of waves. If you want to the North Shore, you’re going to need a quiver that fits these type of waves. The best way to ensure you have this quiver is to get boards from a local shaper that knows each spot. If you can’t afford a whole quiver, the North Shore is the best place to buy a used boards.

Go off the beaten track

If you’re not out to get your photo taken but want to just relax and surf, then don’t bother with Pipe and some of the other more star-studded waves on the North Shore. If you can get away from the main drag a little you’ll find that there are plenty of breaks nearby that are a lot less crowded. Try out Lanis or Jockos, great spots and plenty more room to practice for the heavier waves.


There’s always talk about respect in Hawaii but many surfers don’t understand the true concept. It’s not always about respecting the big guys in the lineup, but about respecting everyone and everything. Pick up trash when you see it, help someone out when they are lost, this is the level of respect out here. It’s more than just doing the right thing because you’re scared of getting punched, it’s about doing the right thing because it’s right.

Finding a place to stay

In winter trying to find a place to stay is going to be a bit real tough. With everyone from the surf industry fighting for a spot, it’s not easy finding something right in the middle of the action, but staying out the way is actually better. There are some cheaper rentals around V-Land that are really good or you can always go the hostel route.

Keep an eye on Incoming Swells

The most perilous time to be in the water on the North Shore is during an big incoming swell. There have been more people hurt in those conditions than in any other. It can go from 2ft to 8ft in a short space of time, so you need to keep youre wits about you and be aware of how the conditions may be changing rapidly around you.

Take a Lay Day

On any surf trip it’s important to take some time to get off your board and see what else is out there. Hawaii and the North Shore has such an amazing history and it would be a crime to not take some time out and go learn something about it’s rich culture.

Interesting places to visit are the Polynesian Culture Center, Haleiwa, the Iolani Palace. You won’t regret it!


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