Hiking through Hawaii’s lush rain forests… Lounging on a secluded beach… Cruising down a volcano on a mountain bike at top speed… These are just a few of the myriad of activities you can do while in Oahu, Hawaii – However I was here for one reason only, to surf and to experience the home of surfing.
Most people involved with surfing will never visit the home of the sport, although I personally feel it is the most important surf trip to make and the whole point of this trip is simply to experience the ‘Aloha’ of surfing in person.
I’m greeted at Honolulu airport by my personal surf guide as his voice echoes through the arrivals hall “Aloha, Bra…. Over Here….!”, whilst I try to remain calm what seems like hundreds of overweight New Yorkers trample all over me in the rush to get to the free limos for their accommodation.
20 minutes later we are driving away from the city of Honolulu and into the dark depth of Oahu and towards the north shore. My guide who is pleasant and smiling chats happily away totally forgetting that I have travelled 18 hours and feel knackered. Here I am in a warm tropical climate, in a place that I have always wanted to visit since I could first walk and it seems a total daze, I just can’t take it in.
Suddenly we take a sharp right turn and we seem to go off road through some fields, my guide calm as ever just laughs and shouts out “short cut Bra… get some cane on the way!”, I soon find out he means, Sugar Cane! we pull over in a dark field and he grabs a large tall plant and snaps it in half, “that will give you some sugar to wake you up…Bra” then we are off into the night again as I start to doze off despite the recent sugar doze.
6am and I am woken up by what I think is thunder… the ground seems to shake but I see no clouds out the window. In a daze I grab some shorts and take a look outside my accommodation on the North Shore. The noise I heard was simply a nice 20ft swell breaking out front, as I look to my right I see surf pumping and then I look to my left and see the same, out in the line up I can see a few dots being lifted up the huge walls of water then disappearing again. What a wake up call!
After breakfast my guide arrives “what’s up Bra… nice swell today man!” the concern on my face must be obvious, surely this dude is not going to take me out in this swell. To my delight it would seem that we are actually heading for another spot that’s off the beat of normal visiting surfers “locals only Bra… and you my man of course!” as we trek in the 4 x 4 through a track that looks rather overgrown and something out of Tarzan. We burst through the bush and a bay opens up in front of us with a nice 4 to 6ft wave breaking to the right and something rather larger on the left! All I know is we are somewhere on the south shore.
At lunch time for food, I tried a waffle dog (a hot dog wrapped in a pancake-like waffle). My guide had no trouble wolfing down his cheeseburger. I also enjoyed my wonton noodles but relished more the guide’s burger, which he declared the best he’d ever eaten.
Refuelled, we stopped next at Diamond Head, from which lava erupted about 150,000 years ago. “We’re in a volcano?” I asked as I looked up at the lip of the crater and tried to take it all in. I feared it would erupt again while we were in it. Although we felt like ants in the bottom of a big bowl, no harm came to us of course and it was off to the next best surf spot along the coast for some late afternoon watery barrels.
Five days into my week long stay in Oahu and I now feel more like a local than I do at my own spot back on the main land in US. Here I am surfing in waves and next to real Hawaiian waterman of many generations and loving every minute of it. My guide just sits next to me in a line up that looks more like something off one of those surfing DVD’s, branded pro’s sit only yards away trying to escape the cameras that dot the line up of the bigger more popular breaks whilst in between them controlling the surf like amusement park employees are my new friends and for this week if not again I feel like a local!
Suddenly a shout comes from my side “Yours Bra…..!” and I realise that the next lump heading my way is finally mine. I paddle with nice deep strokes, feeling for the wave as it approaches and I catch a glimpse in the corner of my eye as others start to paddle towards the approaching wave. This wave has my name on it; I have the permission of the Hawaiian locals to use the power of Mother Nature for my pleasure. I start to rise up the face, then with out thinking I seem to be flying forward and I am moving quickly and smoothly down the line “Go Bra….” I hear in the distance and I hold tight in the wave and drag my hand to slow down as much as possible as the lip rises up and over with the ease of walking down the beach…. As I exit the barrel spray hits my back and I kick out the wave with as much grace as possible… an experience I could tell a thousands times over and brings me continued stoke, surfing Hawaiian barrels for fun!
Let’s face it, most surfers coming to Hawaii hit the surf and never budge. By the time we’ve packed up everything from wax to ding repair, flown God knows how far, unpacked everything, and planned the surf for the week including all the fun and relaxation, we deserve to dig our heels into the beach and sit awhile. But should the urge to explore strike you, there are fantastic outings all over Oahu, secret waterfalls, hidden petroglyphs, the world’s greatest water slides.
Having a personal surf guide who can drive you about if the surf goes flat or you just wish to explore makes it so much easier and the beauty is you can stay in either budget accommodation or a top 5-star resort either way this is a surf trip that no matter what standard you are from Learner to Professional you should go on. Aloha!
For more information, visit the Hawaiian tourism website at ( http://www.visithawaii.com ) for other information on visiting the state.