Watch Big Wave Surfing on Oahu
The North Shore’s legendary winter waves attract the best surfers in the world. The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, considered the Super Bowl of surfing, is held on its shores every year in November and December at Waimea Bay, Haleiwa Beach and Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline).
The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau is considered the ultimate Hawaii big wave surfing event. Unlike other competitions, “The Eddie” does not have a set date, but rather, a holding period from December through February and occurs only if the waves hit a face height of 40 feet or more. Since its inception in 1984, this invitation-only event has only been held a handful of times.
Eddie Would Go
The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau represents more than an opportunity to tame waves the size of a three-story building. The opening ceremony brings together surfers from around the world in celebration of the aloha spirit of Eddie Aikau, the legendary lifeguard of Waimea Bay and one of the best big wave riders in the world. He was a legend on the North Shore, and the phrase “Eddie would go” refers to how he pulled surfers out of the raging waters when no one else would—or could. With a heart as large as the waves he rode, Eddie is also remembered for his selfless effort to save his fellow shipmates on the Polynesian voyaging canoe, Hokulea. When the vessel capsized, he paddled in search of help. The crew was later rescued, but Eddie was never found. Visit Waimea Bay and you’ll find Eddie’s memorial watching over the surfers as he did in life.
Today, Eddie’s brother Clyde (also a legendary lifeguard and winner of the 1986 “Eddie”) and Clyde’s son Haa continue the Aikau family tradition by “rockin” the winter swells.
If you’re a fan of monster waves, you can also watch big wave surfing on Maui where Peahi, aptly referred to as “Jaws,” is a popular place for tow-in surfing.
Note that during big wave season and especially on competition days, traffic to the North Shore can be heavy, so plan accordingly.