Monday, February 9, 2015

Haleiwa: Oahu's Surfing Capital of the Universe

Every island has a north shore, but there is only one North Shore, where the best surfers in the world come to ride dozens of classic breaks. Among the famous waves are four that are on the pro sufing world tour: Sunset, Pipeline, Waimea, and Haleiwa. The unassuming Haleiwa (holly-ee-vah) Town is the center of it all.

Haleiwa  Beach Park is on the opposite end of town from the pro surfing beach. This beach is perfect for beginning surfers, beach potatoes, and for strollers who want to hike around a palmy point to hidden Police Beach.

The little bridge in the center of town is postcard material—but also the gateway to the bay and ocean for outrigger canoes. Clubs and races are part of the town's fabric. These are the home waters for some of Hawaii's best women paddlers, including Haleiwa Jane Duncan.

The town itself is strung along a mile or two, weather-worn frame buildings. Grand plans to develop the North Shore have been defeated by locals, and Haleiwa retains a low-key rural vibe of benign neglect. The place began as a missionary settlement in 1832 (one of Hawaii's earliest) and in the late 1800s became a weekend getaway for the well-heeled from Honolulu, who rode a railway that was built to haul sugar cane. For sugar these days, try one of Haleiwa's shave ice joints.

Located at the North Shore Marketplace, Patagonia may be best known for top quality mountain gear and clothing but this place is one of the best surf shops anywhere. Inside you'll see photos and memorabilia of women's longboard surfing legend, the late Rell Sunn who helped set up the shop in 1994. For a tour of all the surfing beaches on this coast, consult your Oahu Trailblazer adventure guidebook.

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