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.