Thursday, January 17, 2013

Surfing on Kauai

The days leading up to my trip home, I wrote down a bunch of great things to do/write about while I was home. However once I got here I fell into this routine: Surf, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Part of the reason is that my love for surfing is so great that given the option, I'll choose it every time. So what better choice that to write about surfing on Kauai!

Two of the great things about Kauai is the size and the surf. Everyone knows about the north shore of Oahu. Probably a similar number of people know about Jaws or Peahi which is on the north shore of Maui. The surfing on Kauai remains to be a nice, somewhat hidden gem. There are great breaks on all shores of the island which give us waves year round. Also, because of the vast majority of waves, you don't really have to fight too much in the way of crowds. The best part of all that is because of the size of Kauai, no break is more than 2 hours away. These are some of my favorite breaks on the island.

Shipwrecks - Located on the south side of the island, this is a beach break with reef bottom. It is known as a close out wave merely for getting barrels. But getting great barrels is what happens when the swell, wind and tides line up right. A hollow fast wave will be sure to give you your moneys worth. Drawback is that there is one main peak so the crowd factor can become a problem as well as localism if the waves are good.

PK's/ Centers - These are both located in the same area. PK's is a left while Centers is a right. These are both long fun waves when they are on. You can get a ride last 15-20 seconds. The bottom is reef but unless the tide is really low it is nothing you have to worry about much. Groms (little kids) tend to surf quite often here and sometimes they don't always have the respect thing down yet.

Pakalas - This one is one of the best waves on the island. Also one of the harder ones to find. To get here you would park along the highway, walk on the trail through the cow pastures (which no longer have cows as far as I know) across a stream to the beach. It is a left with several different breaks. Given the right swell direction and conditions, you can get a wave from the outside break all the way through giving you a ride of at least 30 seconds. The crowd is something you'll have to fight sometimes but the bigger worry is what lies beneath. There is an old sugar cane irrigation ditch which exits right near the break. This ditch makes the water constantly the brown murky color. The saying goes "If it weren't for the water color, between the sharks and the reef, no one would surf there." I've both hit the reef before as well as seen a number of sharks here before. So I wouldn't doubt part of that saying. But as the same time, when the waves are breaking, I find it hard to believe that some people wouldn't risk it.

Kalihiwai - This is a right handed point break like no other on the island. It breaks at the foot of a cliff. To get the best ride you want to take off on the other side of the point and ride in front of the cliff. Not as scary as it sounds but if you don't make it, you can easily end up like my favorite whiskey, on the rocks. Make it though and you have yourself and super fun right that will take you a long way. At the main point break, the crowd is sometimes an issue as it can be localized. But there are several other breaks which can still be tons of fun.

Hanalei Bay - This is probably the most popular break on the island. I would say the main reason is that it can handle wave sizes ranging from knee high up to 20+ feet. Get the right wave and you can get a solid 15-20 second ride in. One of my favorite breaks but because of the popularity, it is usually one of the most crowded as well. The people are can be pretty respectful as long as you are in return. Be prepared to wait your turn in the lineup. Also be prepared to paddle as the wave breaks at least a good quarter mile out.

Targets - This was the break that I lost my board. It is a fast, powerful wave that is known for barrels. Some times there are people towing in not for the size but for the speed of the waves. Catch it in the right conditions and it can be an amazing day of surfing. Catch it at the wrong time and you can lose multiple boards in a day (speaking from experience). It is some what out of the way so crowds are rarely an issue. Currents can be an issue but they are usually cross shore as opposed to one pulling you out to sea.

By no means are these the only beaches on Kauai. These are just a handful of my favorite. But the waves can be good anywhere at anytime. That is why I always just choose to surf while I'm home. I never know what the waves have in store for me.

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