Winter Waves at Waimea

Guest Post by: HNLhulagirl

It can start as early as a week before. Local television meteorologists track the Pacific buoys located as far as 120 miles northwest of Kauai various internet sites post the latest updates. As the day approaches, text alerts to cell phones fly across the island and web cams give a glimpse of what will come.

Winter Waves at Waimea, HawaiiIt’s another north shore winter swell on approach to the Hawaiian Islands. The surf makes the north shore communities buzz with excitement. Local surfers haul out their long boards and come alive waiting to challenge Waimea yet again. Those in the islands for the winter are anxious to experience the most awesome waves in the world. Local eateries and merchants stock up on supplies and merchandise and the tourists load up for the trek to the country with cameras charged-up.

The Oahu winter waves bring a force to the North Shore that wakens the sleepy towns between Waialua and Kahuku. One can hear the newest surf slang area bars and eateries. The experienced and not so experienced surfers throw around words like “epic,” “stick,” and “sets”. Speaking of sets, waves are measured not only and feet, but these days those in the know need to clarify Hawaiian or California style because size does matter when it comes to waves. Hawaiian style measures from the back while California style measures the face of a breaking wave.

On the morning of the expected swell, crowds begin to gather from as far away Waikiki to be immersed in the world’s best wave show. Lifeguards post high surf warning signs along the beach and constantly patrol to ensure that innocent bystanders are not swept away in the rip tide. Expert surfers arrive at Waimea knowing that if other surf spots like Pipeline and Sunset close out, Waimea will most likely remain ride-able all day. Surfers who know Waimea favor the huge break off Waimea point where their skills are flaunted and tested with each ride.

By mid-morning the traffic begins to slow to a crawl. Parking lots from Ali’i to Sunset beaches begin to fill and overflow onto the shoulder of Kamehameha Highway. Rental cars everywhere and outnumber private cars. Professional photographers with telephoto lenses stand in ranks with their equipment along the Waimea Valley hillside to catch those perfect shots.

Everyone gets their fill of the sun and scenery. Many will “ooh” and “aah” at the tremendous force of these waves and all will appreciate the talents of those who dare to challenge Waimea. As the shadows begin to lengthen, most will make their way back to Haleiwa for a meal or at least a shave-ice at Matsumoto’s before heading back into Waikiki. The locals will head for various post surf session gatherings at friends homes, and nearby bars. Merchants and restaurateurs will close for the evening happy and exhausted.

It is another great winter day on Oahu’s North Shore and another great day of he’e nalu or wave riding Waimea style.


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