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North Shore Oahu Surf Trip: What should I bring and do on my vacation to Hawaii and is it safe

Updated on October 10, 2015

After the three seasons I have done so far to the mecca of the surf world know as the North Shore I have come up with the ten most important tips that I have learned from the 2, 4, and 6 week expeditions I have done out there.

1) Only bring what can be replaced. Depending upon where you stay and who goes in and out of your place, things can go missing. It’s a surf trip so it’s best to pack light anyways.

2) Make friends. Its a small world there and the more contacts you have the better connections you have for a good place to stay (or maybe free), a crew to gang out with, rides to and from the airport and long term friends to name a few.

3) Prepare. Surf large reef breaks if you don’t usually. Get use to waking up early and surfing long hours. Cross-train by running, holding your breathe and stretching. Don’t be out of shape and caught off guard for your surf trip. Also, be sure to come prepared with your equipment and backup. Boards, wax, sunscreen, extra shorts if you dont like plane rides. If you bodyboard be sure and bring extra fins, they can be ripped off fast out there even with tethers. To stock up on the best bodyboard fins go here to get Churchill Swim fins.

4) Buy a $30 bicycle. Also, buy a bike lock. Your best bet for a lock is a bicycle shop right next to Foodland for $20 or bring your own. This is the best way to get around to go surf, get food, and everything in between. When you leave, sell if for $40.

5) Don't drop-in on people in the water. Everyone talks up the North Shore about the lineup being local, aggressive and fight prone. The real story is that you will be fine and have a good time if you don’t act stupid out in the water.

Heres a great book I personally have in my library

6) Explore. Many people, including myself, can fall into the trap of surfing Pipe everyday of the trip. Nothing wrong with that but at the end of my season on the North Shore it seems like I didn’t explore enough, I just did the same thing and didn’t take the whole island in. Surf Rocky Point, Velzyland, Turtle Bay, east side, west side, snorkel, buy a snow cone in Haleiwa, hike to a waterfall, party in Honolulu, zip line, or take a ride in a helicopter to name a few.

7) Backpackers Hostel. I have stayed here a lot. It’s an experience. It’s cheap and will get the job done but kinda sketchy. You can rent private rooms for more money but for the most part there are bunk beds that seat around 4-6 people in a room. This is a good go-to place when you are new to the area but if you can afford it, find a cleaner and safer place after staying there.

Pipeline at the North Shore

8) Stay longer than a week. A week is just not enough time. Factor in your travel time and the chance the waves will be too big or too small for you the week you are there.

9) Invest in a free Foodland grocery store membership card, its the only decent sized grocery store out there. The savings start when you spend $300 on the card, it adds up.

10) Go! Take action and just get there and show up.


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