4 North Shore Surf Spots for First Time Visitors[caption id="attachment_1463877" align="aligncenter" width="604"] ©istockphoto/Dtamarack[/caption] “Don’t even think about Pipe. Stick to Lani’s. It’s all about Lani’s.” That was the first piece of advice I ever received about the North Shore. Truthfully, I wasn’t thinking about Pipe, and chances are, you shouldn’t be either. Here are four waves you should think about on your first North Shore pilgrimage. These aren’t necessarily beginner spots, but they’re certainly spots for mortals. Because, as Bruce Brown once opined, “If you think you’re going to hop on a plane from somewhere and go out there and dazzle someone, you’re in for a rude awakening." Rocky Point
Every visiting surfer should surf Rocky Point. Yeah, yeah, I know: it doesn’t need more crowds, but hear me out. Here’s what happens when you paddle out at Rocky’s for the first time. First, the waves look tasty. Inviting. Almost playful. Rocky’s is a wave that most people will look at and think, “I can handle that.” So you take the easy paddle out from the sandbar on the east end of the point. You make it to the lineup after a few strokes. Everyone is smiling at you, except some guy that’s probably visiting from a different hemisphere, and the lineup is spread out and the waves are peaky, and powerful, and fun and you think: “This is what I came here for." Then you catch a wave. You do a turn. You pull into what appears to be a soft little barrel and it pinches you, slams you to the bottom, and drags you across the reef. You come up, gasping, to see if your board is still intact and notice some kid half your age land a no-grab air reverse while some guy twice your age gets spit out of a tube. Welcome to the North Shore. The waves here are good. If you don’t respect the waves you will get hurt. Everyone here surfs better than you. Be humble and play nice, and you will be rewarded. Enjoy your stay. Ehukai Beach Park
There are lots of pros to surfing Ehukai. First, it’s a wide-open stretch of beach, with plenty of room to move around, so crowds aren’t a major issue. Second, it’s mostly a beach break, so you don’t need to be too concerned with hitting the reef, and the waves will probably look something like what you’re used to at home, only with significantly more power. Third, you get a really amazing view of the mayhem at Pipe. Surfing the beach park provides the best way to observe the lineup, and understand all the complicated dynamics of a world-class spot, without really getting in the way. Finally, if you time your exit properly, some tourist might think you were actually surfing Pipe, which can be great for evening festivities. Just don’t instagram everything and claim you charged Pipe, because you didn’t, and you’re not fooling anyone. Lani’s
Aside from Sunset, Laniakea is arguably the best right on the North Shore. And, on its day, it’s occasionally the best spot on the North Shore. When Lani’s is absolutely firing, scoring waves can be difficult. However, when the rest of the 8-mile miracle is lighting up, Lani’s will be quietly doing its thing with a potentially manageable crowd. Also, it’s reef-point, so the lineup dynamics are a little easier to understand than the more congested reefs to the east. Chuns
Chuns Reef is another good North Shore site. It’s not as fast and performance-oriented as Lani’s and it’s not as heavy as Sunset. The paddle out is far, but the wide channel makes it manageable. All sorts of wavecraft are welcome here, and longboards are common. Chun’s is a good place to get comfortable in a bit more size without having to worry about a shallow reef. Don’t get too comfortable though. Chuns is still a North Shore reef, and it can pack a punch when the waves get over five feet.