Oahu surf contests back for big wave season

Local surfer Keanu Asing during the Hawaiian Pro at Haliewa.
Local surfer Keanu Asing during the Hawaiian Pro at Haliewa. Photo Credit: WSL/Cestari
Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

Hawaii travelers vacationing on Oahu over the next several weeks may want to consider making a visit to the island's North Shore to take in some live competition at the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.

The popular annual trio of professional surfing events entered its 34nd year in 2016 and kicked off earlier this week as the first rounds of the Hawaiian Pro were contested at Haliewa on waves with face heights at times reaching 10 to 12 feet.

Meanwhile, the holding period for the Vans World Cup of Surfing, leg two of the Triple Crown, is Nov. 24 through Dec. 6 at Sunset Beach, and the Billabong Pipe Masters, one of professional surfing's most revered events, has a holding period running from Dec. 8 to Dec. 20 at the Banzai Pipeline at Ehukai Beach Park.

Organizers run the competitions when the waves and conditions are most favorable during those holding period windows, so making firm plans far in advance to visit the North Shore to view the contests live from the beach on a specific date isn't the best approach. But Oahu vacationers with a little flexibility and interest can keep an eye on www.vanstriplecrownofsurfing.com or www.worldsurfleague.com, where folks can get regular updates about when competition will actually happen.

The Triple Crown of Surfing events, which are free for spectators to enjoy from the beach, coincide with the beginning of the big wave season on Oahu's North Shore, which is another popular visitor draw from fall to early spring on the island.

The large waves and surfing competitions mean a busy property for Turtle Bay Resort, located North Shore and the official accommodations provider for the World Surf League during the organization's Triple Crown events. According to Brad Doell, the resort's director of sales and marketing, travelers visit from around the globe during the contest schedule, and Turtle Bay has been bustling during the competition season in recent years.

"It's tough to grow year over year because we're pretty much a full house during these time periods," he said. "There are certain days that we're not, but during the events themselves, whether it's the first leg of the Triple Crown to the last leg, which is Pipeline, we get gradually busier, and we run a fairly high occupancy."

Turtle Bay runs a Vans Triple Crown of Surfing special rate during the competition period, which starts at $279 a night this year and features a collection of VIP bonuses for guests really looking for the most out of time watching events at the beach.

"We have the space on the beach, where people can come sit in the tent and be nice and comfortable," explained Adam Luchs, Turtle Bay's events manager. "We've got the shuttle [from the hotel to the events], and then we've also got access where people can get behind the scenes and up into the viewing bleachers to check out the contest."

Luchs added that Turtle Bay's VIPs may even have the chance to rub shoulders with a pro surfer or two, adding that seeing action in person is impressive.

"When you watch a guy on a small board surfing a 10- to 20-foot wave, you realize what these guys are doing out there takes a lifetime of skill and practice," he said.

Turtle Bay also holds a number of events at the resort in conjunction with the Triple Crown and its partnership with the World Surf League throughout the year, including kickoff parties, Talk Story events with legendary watermen, and Surfer Poll, an annual awards ceremony. For details, click here.


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