That’s not vog in the air on the North Shore. It’s
salt. The sea haze caused by big waves greets North Shore residents
by caking up on their cars in thick, soot-like layers. It’s
the first sign winter is on its way.
The first giant swell of the season came crashing in during Discoverer’s
Day weekend, attracting hundreds to O‘ahu’s north
side. Residents and visitors were not disappointed with majestic
scenes of roaring surf slamming into the rocks and daring surfers
who make it look so easy to be one with the waves.
Senior journalism major Shane Sochocki drove an hour from Waikiki
to the North Shore to catch the anticipated swell. Sochocki,
originally from Toms River, N.J., started surfing when he was
12 years old. He fixated on going to Hawai‘i at a young
age, because his father had lived here in the 1970s.
My dad was a body surfer and talked passionately about how beautiful
Hawai‘i is,” Sochoki said. He admits that the surf
in Hawai‘i influenced his decision to attend HPU. “I
love surfing, and there’s no better place to do that and
get an education than O‘ahu.”
Other North Shore visitors enjoying the surf were Alyssa and
Perry Bradin from New Zealand, who try to come to Hawai‘i
every year. The Bradins were advised by a friend back home to
come in September, “because” Barry recounted, “that’s
when the waves would start to get big.
Typically the surf doesn’t start to rise till October and
November, and Alyssa feared “We weren’t going to
see any waves before we leave next week.” She added, “We’re
grateful that we got to see some today.”
Surfers and sightseers weren’t the only ones to appreciate
the big surf. Local businesses that had experienced a slowdown
within the past couple of months noticed a huge jump in profits
as soon as the swell hit.
Chantal Micale, a server at Hale‘iwa Eat’s Thai Restaurant,
said that the place was packed during Discoverer’s Day
weekend with what seemed like a never-ending waiting list. “There
were a lot of people down here. The traffic from Hale‘iwa
going towards Sunset spoke for itself,” she said.
According to Micale, from the end of August through the middle
of October is usually a slow time for Hale‘iwa Eat’s
and other businesses in the area, a trend not due to recent national
economy activity but just to fewer people coming to the North
Shore because it’s the off-season. Micale pointed out that
the current downturned economy hasn’t really had a noticeable
effect on the restaurant.
“It’s interesting to see what’s going to happen in November
when the first surf competition takes place. We are expecting to be busy again,
as in previous years,” she added. The pace is already starting to pick
up and surfers from all over the world are making their way to Hawai‘i.
You know it’s winter when the crowd of people kind of changes. There’s
a lot of different accents. It’s a whole different atmosphere from summer,” Micale
If the slowing economy will affect Hale‘iwa businesses, by preventing the
huge crowds that are expected to venture to the North Shore as they do every
year, it will happen within the next month, as the winter surf advisory giant
waves start to top this early swell’s 15 feet.
North Shore business certainly expect the surf season to be one of the busiest
in the past several years. Restaurants such as Rosie’s Cantina and Pizza
Bob’s, both in Hale‘iwa, have hiring ads in the North Shore News
for servers and kitchen help, an attempt to stock up on workers for the surf
rush. Starbucks in Pupukea just hired several new employees to prepare for the
transition to winter because their sales skyrocket as well when the surf rolls
Big waves may bring big money to the North Shore’s economy, but they also
bring big risks. There were 12 rescues at Waimea Bay alone on Discoverer’s
Day, according to Lifeguard Vitor Marcal.
Marcal urges beachgoers to read the warning signs posted on the beach and to
know their limits.
Visitor’s get hurt because they see the locals in the water playing in
the shore break and they do the same. Especially the children, because they see
kids who grew up around water who make it look so easy. Hazardous surf is better
to watch then to be a part of,” he added.
Before heading over to the North Shore this winter to see the giant waves, be
informed on the current ocean conditions and read the posted warning signs on
For more information, go to http://www.co.honolulu.hi.us/esd/oceansafety.