The Call of The Wild: A Haole’s Guide to Getting Along on the North Shore

Posted on January 2, 2014

We have teamed up with our friends at The Inertia to bring you the "Call of the Wild"—a monthly series of editorial features that will cover every aspect of heeding the call. 

It’s pretty simple: don’t be a jerk, and you’ll get along just fine. Photo: Tim Hogan

Hawaii is a beautiful place. It’s all of those things you see on postcards and in old movies: swaying palm trees, warm evening breezes, eye-exploding sunsets, and tanned, beautiful people.

But within the surfing community, there is a general feeling of morbid terror of the North Shore of Oahu. The proving grounds! Go back to the mainland! Bettah you go home! There’s talk of angry locals cutting leashes and busting faces for the slightest infraction. But it’s not true.

Sure, it might be true if you’re a jerk and you haven’t learned the general social-norms of both surfing and life in general, but that rings true just about anywhere you’ll ever go – it probably rings true at home. It’s pretty simple, really: Don’t be a jerk, and you’ll get along just fine.

1: Smile–First things first. Just like anywhere, being friendly goes a long way. Surfing line ups in general are pretty stolid places, save for the occasional hoot from that friendly guy that’s getting all the set waves. I’m always amazed by the lack of chatter when a bunch of people are doing something they love. Be that guy (or girl) that takes the initiative to make friends with someone you don’t know. Then everyone will have more fun.

2: Don’t be a wave hog–Honestly, it’s only really possible to be a wave hog on the North Shore (in December) if you’re a) a professional, or b) riding a WaveJet. You’re probably not either, unless you’re Corey Lopez. Then you’re both. But if, by some strange fluke, you find yourself at firing V-Land and you’re able to pick off all the good ones, give a few back. Let one go by for the person that’s scratching for every wave but just can’t get deep enough. It’s like Duke said: “Just take your time—wave comes. Let the other guys go, catch another one.

3: Throw your shit away–Seriously. It’s really easy. Pick it up and throw it away. For the amount of tourists here, it’s actually amazingly clean, but there’s still garbage blowing around and stuck in bushes. Chickens peck at it, and when it rains, it all turns into a garbage mash of muddy awfulness that infects your already-infected reef slashed feet. It’s gross.

4: Learn to love roosters–You can’t kill them, so you might as well learn to love them. Roosters are known for waking you up at the crack of dawn with their yelling. Here’s the thing, though: it’s not just at dawn. It’s all day and all night. It’s just a constant background noise, like your refrigerator humming in the kitchen.

5: Be ready to take a couple on the head–It’s a sure thing. You will take large waves on the head, and it sucks. You kick out of these pristine, electric blue waves, exploding with happiness, then look back towards the lineup and see a towering, dark mountain approaching. Everyone that didn’t catch your wave is paddling desperately towards it, and most of them will make it under. You will not. And it will suck. Keep paddling.

Tell us your best North Shore experience (for better or for worse)! Share it in the comments section on this post at Best one wins $200 worth of gear from Howler Bros, perfect for your next Hawaiian surf trip. Congratulations to Dominic Stone for winning the last prize pack! While you’re at it, take a peek at previous installments of The Call of the Wild Adventure Series powered by Howler Bros.