It’s easy to be envious of the pro-surfer lifestyle: traveling the world in search of the perfect wave, a wardrobe that’s nothing more than board shorts, a T-shirt, and sandals… With Hawaii being ground zero for the world’s best surf talent, famous surfers from everywhere else around the planet come here throughout the year to brave the pastimes’ biggest waves—which means you have multiple opportunities to watch and meet your surf idols.
Triple Crown of Surfing
The North Shore of Oahu heats up in December, when the waters start churning, and everyone in the industry arrives for “The Superbowl of Surfing.” The three major professional surfing contests of the year—Billabong Pipeline Masters, the Reef Hawaiian Pro, and the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach—feature the best surfers in the sport, all within a few miles of coastline. You can set up camp in the tiny village of Haleiwa, and the beaches surrounding the contests, where friends and family of the participants set up tents on to cheer on their stars. Walking into Haleiwa Joe’s or Luibueno’s Mexican & Latin Cuisine, you can find guys like Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, and Joel Parkinson grabbing a Mai Tai or a shrimp burrito.
Women’s Pro Surfer at Honolua Bay
The women’s pro surfer league wraps up each year with a late November/early December contest at the picture-perfect Honolua Bay on Maui. You can set up your tailgate on a cliff overlooking the break, and witness famous surfers like Stephanie Gilmore, Carissa Moore, and Sally Fitzgibbons shredding huge waves. So pack up that rental car with a cooler, some lawn chairs, and snacks, and immerse yourself in the action taking place on this rolling point break.
August on Oahu’s South Shore is a summer paradise, as the swells from the north shift, and waves are consistent, glassy, and occasionally barreling. This makes August prime for the arrival of dozens of legendary surfers, canoe paddlers, and watermen of all types who participate in the charity event named after Hawaiian legend (and Olympian) Duke Kahanamoku. The week-long party features multiple contests right on Waikiki Beach, including the “Legends Longboard” contest. Twenty-plus teams compete in a friendly surf-off—and each team is helmed by a surf legend, like Randy Rarick, Rabbit Kekai, or Robert “Wingnut” Weaver. As soon as you hit the beach, you’ll find it impossible not to get caught up in the building excitement. Just ride that wave for the best surfing vacation of your life.