Winter on the North Shore of Oahu is unlike anywhere else on the planet. Instead of the holiday cheer that typically fills the air during December, a palpable sense of excitement radiates from the North Shore. Not only does winter generate enormous amounts of swell that produce the world’s most alluring waves, but it brings the World Tour and other surf events to the North Shore. From the Pipe Masters to the Backdoor Shootout and beyond, it’s the best time of year for surfers on the North Shore. For visiting travelers, surfers and non-surfers alike, winter on the North Shore is the perfect time of year to witness and experience surf culture at its highest form. If you’re visiting Oahu this winter and want to check out the competitive surf scene on the North Shore firsthand, check out our event guide below.
Vans Triple Crown of Surfing- Ali’i Beach Park / Sunset Beach / Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline), December 21-January 21
During a non-covid year, the Van’s Triple Crown of Surfing winner is crowned based on the results of three separate contests at Pipeline, Haleiwa, and Sunset. In 2020, and again in 2021, the Triple Crown will be digital. Meaning that contestants on the North Shore have the above-listed window of time to surf, film, and submit their best waves at each surf break to be judged and scored. While a digital contest doesn’t sound very spectator-friendly, during the contest window, the best surfers in the world will be surfing as much as possible to maximize their scores. Visitors on the North Shore during that time are sure to witness some spectacular surfing.
Haleiwa Challenger- Ali’i Beach Park, Haleiwa, Oahu, November 26-December 7, 2021
The Michelob Ultra Haleiwa Challenger is currently running in Haleiwa. This event is part of the World Surf League’s new Challenger Series, giving surfers more opportunities to qualify for the exclusive Championship Tour. So far, the Challenger Series has held contests at Sydney (AUS), Piha (NZL), Ballito (ZAF), Huntington Beach (USA), Pantin (ESP), Ericeira (PRT), Haleiwa (HAW), and Sunset Beach (HAW).
*Update: The North Shore’s Own John John Florence wins the Haleiwa Challenger
The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational- Waimea Bay, December 1-February 28
The Eddie is perhaps professional surfing’s most meaningful event. The Eddie honors the life of the legendary waterman Eddie Aikua who, as a lifeguard, saved over 500 people and ultimately gave his life to save others while out at sea. Eddie Aikua was one of the original surfers to brave the waves at Waimea Bay, so the contest at Waimea Bay is put on by his family in his honor. Unlike other surf contests on the island, the Eddie only runs when the waves are over 30 feet. This contest invites the world’s best big wave surfers to compete each year to participate in the opening ceremony on the firth day of the waiting period. The last time the Eddie ran was in 2009. Could this year prove to be worthy of the Eddie?
Billabong Pro Pipeline- Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline), January 29-February 10, 2022
This year the Billabong Pro Pipeline will be held separately from the usual Billabong Pipe Masters. The Billabong Pro Pipeline will, of course, be held at the infamous Banzai Pipeline, surfing’s ultimate proving ground and competitive arena. The event is slated to run from late January to early February.
Da Hui Backdoor Shootout- Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline), January 2022 (Exact Dates TBD)
Da Hui Backdoor Shootout is put on each year by the legendary board riders club, Da Hui. Unlike WSL contests, where judges use a 10-point scale for each wave, the Backdoor Shootout rewards surfers for deep, cavernous barrels and judges on a 12-point scale to reward those extra-deep barrels.
Sunset Beach WSL Championship Tour Event- Sunset Beach February 11-23, 2022
Unlike contests at Pipe, which reward daring barrel riding abilities, contests at Sunset give surfers the opportunity to display their best power surfing amongst one of the trickiest lineups in surfing. Sunset is a powerful and unpredictable break that takes true mastery to surf well.
Volcom Pipe Pro- Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline), February 2022 (exact dates TBD)
The Volcom Pipe Pro is widely considered one of the best contests at Pipe. After two years without the contest, the North Shore will once again host the best surfers in the world as they compete for glory at Pipeline.
Whether you’re visiting Hawaii to surf or simply there to take in the sites around the island, watching the world’s best surfers compete against each other on the biggest stage in surfing is an experience unlike any other. When you’re not taking in the action at Pipeline, try your hand at surfing with our North Shore Surf Lessons. If you want to stay as close to the action as possible, book a room at the North Shore’s Turtle Bay Resort.