BRIEF HISTORY OF SURFING

While the Ancient Romans were throwing people into stadiums in an ultimate life and death battle circa 1600 years ago, Polynesians had already invented one of the oldest sports in the world: SURFING. To Ancient Hawaiians, surfing was more than a sport, it was a form of art and way of life. 

As other cultures waged war on each other, the Ahupua’a system the Hawaiians implemented, for governing its people and distributing resources equally, was self-sustaining which gave them much leisure time during times of peace; They were ahead of their time, a utopia of sorts. The extra leisure time allowed Hawaiians to perfect this craft of surfing. 

Of course, the word “surfing” wasn’t coined until the 17th century after the word ‘surge’ evolved into what we know today. He’e Nalu (“wave sliding” AKA surfing) in ancient Hawaii was also a spiritual practice. It was part of their religion (Temples were constructed for wave sliding – Kahalu’u Bay, Big Island). 

The ocean’s rough conditions called for protective prayers before riders even entered the water on their bygone 10 foot/3 meters long, 5 inch thick boards. Although the ocean was well respected, surfing revealed that mother nature could be tamed and for those that could tame the beast, would be treated with reverence and respect. 

The Ali’i (chief/royalty) were usually the most skilled wave rider and had the biggest and best board. Although other classes, like warriors, were able to surf, only the Ali’i could surf the best breaks, had the right-of-way in the water, and garnered the admiration of all those who spectated. 

Original surfboards ranged anywhere between 5 to 15 feet without fins, leaving little to no ability to cut back or turn sharply. Boards averaging 10-12feet/3-4 meters were for the commoners. The Ali’i would ride boards around 14-16feet/5-6 meters, as thick as 5 inches in depth and as heavy as 160 pounds/72.5 kilograms. 

Three types of wood were used for these monstrous boards (Alaia): Koa, Ulu or Wiliwili. As with canoe building, crafting a surfboard was done with reverence and ritual. It was ultimately an expression of art and treated as such, only passed down from generation to generation through mimicked action and storytelling. 

SURFING TODAY

We’ve come a long way in the surfing world and we have fins on boards which give us traction, agility, and maneuverability! The famous “thruster” set up of 3 fins only came to light in 1980. But the first fin was introduced in 1935 on the shores of Waikiki. Double fin design began around 1940. Nearly 400+ years after the Polynesians mastered surfing, a new level to the craft was infused because of fins.  

Today, we’ve reached a state where humans have created the first artificial and surf-able wave! Imagine a world where surfing is only a 15-minute drive from any major metropolis. 11 time-world-champion, Kelly Slater, has already stepped into this future when he created the first artificial wave. Although not open to the public, it is dubbed the world’s longest open-barrel artificial wave (April 2019) and an official stop on the World Surfing Tour.

The first public wave pool powered by AWM is the BSR Surf Resort, in Waco, Texas. Each ride lasts between 10 and 15 seconds, but it has been considered the closest experience to an ocean wave.

As big brand surf companies struggle to remain financially viable, with an estimated 40 million surfers worldwide, the 2020 Olympics coming up (where surfing will be introduced), the surfing industry will be exploding in the next few years with artificial waves becoming the next big thing for the surf community. Like Kelly, I’d love to have a wave pool accessible 24/7. who wouldn’t want access to a wave-like that?! Sometimes, the need to ride a real wave is overbearing. These wave pools will help pacify that crave during the “slow” surf season.

Currently (2019), there are only three commercial-artificial wave pools in the world: — Surf Snowdonia in Wales, “NLand” in Austin, Texas, and the Wadi Adventure Surf Pool in Dubai. (source)


Pipeline is the stage – the epitome of surfing. The “seven-mile miracle”, the most famous surf break in the world, Banzai Pipeline. Here, surfers brave the elements and charge these massive, fast waves. A single, wave can make a career and set up a nobody to legendary overnight.

The mecca of surfing, the crown jewel. What better place to call home, if “SURFING” had a home to call. Although Hawaii is the “modern” birthplace of surfing, realistically, who knows how long, where or even when the ‘sport of surfing’ even began. Surfing is rooted deep in the Polynesian triangle but for all we know, thousands of years ago, some human surfed in the rivers of an ancient forest. 

Regardless of its history, a trip to Pipeline remains a top dream for every soul surfer. Being that it is extremely dangerous and unforgiving, we can’t emphasize enough to exercise safety. Anyone who enters the waters of backdoor at its peak in the wintertime, NOV – APR should understand the unpredictability of the ocean. Top surfers from around the world flock here to get a piece of history whether it’s at Pipe or down the road at Waimea Bay, where the Eddie Aikau Big-Wave Surf Invitational is only held when a minimum of 20 feet (6.1 m) open-ocean swells are forecasted, ie 30-40 foot waves in Waimea Bay. The tournament is named after native Hawaiian, Eddie Aikau – champion big wave surfer, and life-saving Waimea Bay lifeguard.

The World Surf League (WSL) ends its world tour at the “deadliest wave on the planet”. (source), Ehukai, AKA Pipeline. For the surfing world, the Vans Triple Crown of surfing is held on the North Shore of Oahu during that last leg of the WSL season: 1) The Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park, 2) The World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach and 3) The Billabong Pipeline Masters at Ehukai Beach Park.

Nothing better than ending the annual surf season on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

If you’re an avid surfer or love the craft, then knowing when to see these swells come in are important:

Where is Banzai Pipeline?

Oahu, the third largest and most populated Hawaiian Island. Home of Pipeline. (Address: 59-473 Ke Waena Rd, Haleiwa, HI 96712)

* Restrooms

* Beach showers

* Picnic bench tables

* Grass area with shady trees

* Lifeguard on duty

* Free Parking Lot 

What is “Holding Time” in surfing?

One can expect the waves to be double overhead daily. – surfing is unlike most sports where there is a set time and date. Just as the surf culture is relaxed, the dates for surf events are only held when the waves are big enough. “holding time” is the period of when a surf competing is supposed to be held but if the conditions aren’t good enough, it’s held off for another day. 

When to visit the North Shore of Oahu?

The best season to see enormous Pipeline waves and surfers that brave the elements are during the Hawaiian winter. Winter months are from November to March/April.

Prevailing Swell: N/W

Prevailing Winds: SW/SSW

Average Air Temperature: 79-83 °F (26–28 °C)

Average Water Temperature: 72-80 °F (22-26 °C)

When to visit the south shore of Oahu?

If you aren’t surfing Pipe and find yourself in the “offseason” (official WSL season) surfing on Hawaii’s south side is a prime choice to learn how to surf. 

Summer (May to October)

Prevailing Swell: South

Prevailing Winds: NE

Air Temperature: 85-90 °F (29–32 °C)

Water Temperature: 72-82 °F (22-27 °C)

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What is the temperature in Hawaii? 

Apart from the regular sunny day, Oahu’s average high temperature ranges from the low to high 80’s Fahrenheit (around 27 – 31° C) with an average humidity at around 64%. The coolest months – at a lovely 81 F (27° C) – are January and February. The hottest months are July, August, and September with an average of 88 F (31° C)

(weather)

What is the weather like in Hawaii?

Hawaii technically has only two seasons The summer (Apr-Oct) is the dry season and the winter (Nov-Mar) rainy season. It can rain any time of year, but the winter months are noticeably cooler, windier and wetter – bring a hoodie!

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Seeing the big waves crashing on the North Shore of Hawaii, in person, should be on everyone’s bucket list. If it’s a priority on seeing these waves in person, the best time to visit is during the Hawaiian Winter which starts at the end of Hurricane Season, November, and ends in April. 

As a bystander, here are a few things to consider bringing:

Cover: We recommend applying sunscreens that use zinc and iron, reef-safe, and if you find yourself without an umbrella, towel, hat, or even t-shirt off your back; protecting your face, ears, and neck are crucial as they are most prone to burning quicker and not to mention, depending on how unfamiliar your skin is too long exposures to the sun, peeling can occur. 

Hydrate: bring a bottle of water! We HIGHLY recommend being environmentally as friendly as possible so check out refillable containers similar to hydro flask. 

Snacks: be sure to bring something the rejuvenates you like pineapples sprinkled with li hing mui (a favorite local seasoning), mangoes, apple slices, peanuts, etc.

If you’re dedicated to seeing these athletes conquer pipeline, be sure to bring binoculars or have a telephoto lens to see the action a bit clearer, like what color jersey is catching the wave. 

The WSL Men’s Championship Tour (CT) is the men’s elite competition consisting of the best 34 professional surfers competing in 11 events (as of 2015). The WSL Men’s prize money for winning a CT event is $100,000 US.

2019 Event Schedule:

  • Gold Coast Men’s Pro: April 3–13, 2019
  • Rip Curl Bells Beach: April 17–27, 2019
  • Bali Men’s Pro: May 13–24, 2019
  • Margaret River Pro: May 27 – June 7, 2019
  • Oi Rio Pro: June 20–28, 2019
  • J-Bay Open: July 9–22, 2019
  • Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o: August 21 – September 1, 2019
  • Surf Ranch Pro: September 19–22, 2019
  • France Men’s Pro: October 3–13, 2019
  • Meo Pro Peniche: October 16–28, 2019
  • Billabong Pipe Masters: December 8–20, 2019

The WSL Women’s Championship Tour is the women’s elite competition consisting of the best 17 professional surfers competing in 10 events (as of 2015). The WSL women prize money for winning a CT event is $100,000 US.

2019 Event Schedule:

  • Gold Coast Women’s Pro: April 3–13, 2019
  • Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach: April 17–27, 2019
  • Bali Women’s Pro: May 13–24, 2019
  • Margaret River Pro: May 27 – June 7, 2019
  • Oi Rio Pro: June 20–28, 2019
  • J-Bay Open: July 9–22, 2019
  • Surf Ranch Pro: September 19–22, 2019
  • France Women’s Pro: October 3–13, 2019
  • Meo Pro Peniche: October 16–28, 2019
  • Hawaii Women’s Pro: November 25 – December 7, 2019

Event results are converted to points and count towards the WSL World Title Race and the ultimate prize of being called the WSL World Tour Champion. (source)

For the passionate competitive surfer, visit here for the WORLD SURF LEAGUE homepage for surfing competitions and standings of your favorite surfer.

Fun Fact: JUNE 16th is INTERNATIONAL SURF DAY

All research was done independently. The ancient art of surfing deserves the utmost respect. If any facts are incorrect or if you think this post can be optimized in any way, we would love to hear the constructive criticism! Thank you for reading one of my favorite posts about one of my favorite passions! 

Mahalo for reading this lengthy post! We hope it provided valuable information and knowledge to you. We will continue to keep this post updated with any additional questions you can think of! Remember to stay safe out there! If in doubt, don’t paddle out.


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WHERE TO STAY IN NORTH SHORE

There are Airbnb’s available throughout North Shore. If you’re not familiar with Airbnb, it’s an online marketplace for arranging or offering lodging, primarily homestays, or tourism experiences. Get $40 off your first booking at any Airbnb in North Shore!

For more places to stay around North Shore, Booking.com offers hotels, apartments, and hostels. You get free cancellation on most rooms and the best price guarantee!

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