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Surfin' at Waimea Bay - Eddie Aikau Competition

Surfers at Eddie Aikau

Eddie Would Go! It is the stuff of myths. Eddie Aikau is a legend on the North Shore both as a surfer and for giving his life to try to save his buddies after their ocean going canoe capsized. His story is inspiring and your can read about it at this link.

The Quicksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave International surf competition only happens when the waves are big enough on Waimea Bay. This big waves come in traditionally in early December fed by storms and weather systems. It has not been held for the past five years but we have been hearing about the monster waves predicted this El Nino year.

We listened to the news reports and they said Tuesday was a 95% go. The weather forecast was good so we decided to go for it. Girasoli had told us we needed to get there early and we saw the traffic reports. Big surf days are like snow days on the mainland - everyone calls in sick and heads for the beach.

We did not think we could get up at 5:00 so we set the clock for 5:30. It was going to be about a 35 minute drive to the North Shore. We got out just a bit before 6:30.

The dawn was lightened the sky as we cruised along the shoreline. A few waves had crashed over the road in one or two places. We passed the shrimp trucks and Ted's Bakery before we started to see crowds. There is also a competition at the Pipeline so there were some crowds at the Pipeline - BUT nothing like what was coming up.

We were fortunate to be coming from the west instead of from Honolulu. The bumper to bumper crowds were amazing. We passed Waimea Bay which was lined with 3-4 people deep along the street and kept going looking for a place to park...and kept going.... and kept going....

I think we were almost 3 miles from the bay when we finally pulled off into a place to park. We were near Laniakea beach which is known for turtles. None today with the high waves. I was pretty pissed. I thought we could have parked closer on the other side but there was no way to turn around. Grumble... grumble... Off we went walking along the roadside trying to stay out of the way of cars.

G had read about a good vantage spot near a street on the side of the bay we were coming from. It mentioned the people bushwacked to the viewpoints. We were almost to the bay when I noticed a person heading off into the brush on the side and a small path. G and I looked at each other and said lets check it out. Just a short distance into the shrubs where some rocks over looking the bay. Several photographers had tripods setup with some massive lenses or video sets. Hmmm... this might not be too bad. We had a perfect view of waves as they curled and broke. Plus a place to sit. Along the road people were standing 3 and 4 deep. Winner. It made up for being pissed earlier.

We found a place to sit and made ourselves comfortable. The first surfers were being towed out by jet skis. The sun had not come up over the hill above us so we were still shaded and cool.

What huge waves! You could see the swells starting in the distance. The surfers would be waiting and then suddenly one or more would go. Some had good rides, others milder rides and several caught some pretty gnarly waves and wiped out. The NY Times had an early article on the competition.

We hung out for a couple of hours until we had enough of the sun and then headed back. It took about 45 minutes to walk to back to our car. It was even more crowded! G said it was like a surfer's Woodstock.

We decided there was no way we would go back the way we came. The traffic was barely moving especially as people waited for parking. We left and headed back the opposite way through the middle of Oahu. We did make a stop in Haleiwa for a shave ice at Matsumoto. I got mine with azuki beans and lilioki syrup - yummm.. Perfect to cool us off after the long hot walk.

It was too early for lunch so we decided to head back. We grabbed a burger and did a little grocery shopping in Kailau. We returned to the studio and decided to crash the rest of the afternoon in. Perfect lazy afternoon in paradise.

Spectators at Eddie Aikau surf competition
Our spot off to the east of the bay - Near Iliohu Street

Eddie Aikau Surf Competition
Catching a huge wave

Surfers at Eddie Aikau
Finishing a ride

Traffic and Crowds for Surf competition
Heading back through the crowd and traffic to the car

Shave Ice
She's happy now - Shave ice from Matsumoto in Haleiwa

Comments (7)

Wow, Wow, Wow!!! Fabulous photos! Great job!! Perfect place to watch the surf! I'm sooo excited that you went to watch the Eddie today. What an amazing experience!

So how long did it take to reach the spot where you parked after leaving your house? I am guessing you parked on the opposite side from the water so how did you ever get out when you left for the day? Although I guess someone let you out to steal your spot. Good idea to go back the other way. You definitely saved a bunch of time by going up along the Windward Coast.

I wonder just how many people called in sick today. I wish I could have.

Shave ice - the perfect ending to a great day!

Thanks so much for posting this! I thought of you and G all day while at work wondering if you made it and where you parked.

I checked with G and he said we left here at 6:20 and we were parked at 7:30. We did one short stop at Sunset Beach before getting to Waimea.

We parked on the waterside past the beach since we were coming from the west. I'm so glad that I did not turn around to the side opposite the water because we would never have gotten out. Because we were on the waterside and as far away - it took us no time to leave the area and get to Haleiwa.

Wow, now those are some waves and you got some great pictures!! The shaved ice looks pretty impressive as well.

AMAZING photos! Grumble -- grumble -- as I shovel snow. At least I have your blog to refer to for better days ahead...Sounds heavenly. Isn't it interesting how far out these surfers are? From TV, you never envision them to be so far from shore. Matsumoto - my favorite too! Sunset Beach was my first introduction to the North Shore - it's brilliant at sunset! Mahalo for taking me away with you, M

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Marta, how fun to get to see this great competition! The waves are beautiful. Wonderful photos Marta. Makes me miss Hawaii a lot, especially when I saw your last photo. I bet the shave ice was delicious! Sounds like you had a wonderful day. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Keep on enjoying yourselves...

Beautiful photos! Way to go! We have friends in Oahu too and they said traffic was nightmare and skipped the whole thing. I really enjoyed hearing about your adventure. Thanks for sharing.


Beautiful! I am such a fan of your photographic skills! Awesome shots!

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