Ocean wave blurred by motion, Hawaii, USA

Ocean wave blurred by motion, Hawaii, USA

A wave building on Oahu’s North Shore, Hawaii

The North Shore on Oahu is a great place for photographers to capture vivid images of the Pacific in motion, as the beach’s legendary monster waves rise up before breaking on the beach. This long-exposure photograph, shot early in the morning, shows off the power and motion of the water as it rises to form a curled wave. These waves make the North Shore one of Hawaii’s prime surfing destinations. When his ship, the HMS Discovery, was navigating the South Pacific in 1778, British explorer Captain James Cook noted the locals out in the waves riding on boards. Surfboards date back to at least 500 CE and possibly much further back in history.

My Hawaii expedition was so mind expanding that two weeks changed my life irreversibly and the memory of standing on Mākaha Beach and feeling the waves breaking without even being in the water is amazing. The North Shore was magical in the late seventies, the crazy thing was that the previous day I had been skiing in BC, on Boxing day I flew from Vancouver to Honolulu like an a complete newb. Up until then I’d never been anywhere except ski resorts. This was my first taste of the tropics.

The crazy brother combo, my friends Crispy and Crusty had gotten me into this weird predicament, in which I had smoked the deadly Krypto Pakalolo earlier in Honolulu and not being used to it, plus feeling like the only person not sun-tanned brown, I was the inverse and felt like a marshmallow at a bonfire, anyway, so there I was in a rented car on the far-side of the island from the city where I had arrived, buying a big sack of Pakalolo, from surf bums at the beach.

Mākaha Beach Park with the slopes of the Waianae Mountains on the right
Mākaha Beach Park with the slopes of the Waianae Mountains on the right

The idea my amigos had learned from Waikiki Beach experience, and having been to Hawaii several times, was that we could buy enough weed from the surfers on the North Shore, to last us through New Years eve. Thank goodness for the skiing sunglasses, to hide how ridiculously high I was. Finally the score was made and we made our getaway, then stopped ten minutes later to indulge and to adsorb what was happening.

All of a sudden cars started skidding to a stop in the parking lot, one after another, with young kids with surfboards, like a race was on and we were at the finish line to witness, what we later learned was high school had just finished for the day and this was the locals favourite spot. Without intending to be, we were standing in front of Pipeline.

The day I watched a huge break after a Christmas storm and the sight and feel of what we watched left an indelible print in my brain. I lived the next thirty years near a beach in the tropics of Australia, Florida, Costa Rica and Brazil and hundreds of beaches in between, even went to Mavericks near Santa Cruz once, to pay respects, but never seen anything quite like the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii.

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