By Brenda Lamp
If you're ever on the island of Oahu and you want to checkout where the locals stay, Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore is the "happenin' place to be. Forget all the expensive tourist traps and commercialized luaus and have "good fun" with the local boys.
The best time to head out for Banzai Pipeline is between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. From Waikiki, you can take your rental car for the day and head makai (towards the beach) to Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore. If you're not familiar with Oahu, we suggest you take a map with you. We recommend you grab "A Free Souvenir Guide to Oahu" booklet from your hotel, closest ABC store, Honolulu Airport terminal, or any magazine stand on Kalakaua Street (the main drag in Waikiki). On Map B-1, you would find a map of the entire island of Oahu.
From Waikiki, you'd take H-1 West to H-2 North, take H-2 North to 99 which is the Wahiawa turn-off (exit), make an immediate right on 83 (Kamehameha Hwy). You'll be going through the town of Wahiawa. Hint: Don't ask a local for directions, they only know landmarks; not streets (no offense to locals.) You'll pass one bridge after passing Wahiawa town which is the Wahiawa Bridge. Keep going straight several miles (10 to 20 minutes). If you see pineapple fields on both sides of the road, don't worry, you're going the right way. After a few miles, you'll see the Dole Plantation to your right. You may want to stop by on the way back from the beach to get some complimentary pineapple juice and browse around the gift shop or go horseback riding. If you see large patches of fields that are cleared out on both sides, don't fret, you're going the right way.
You'll pass another bridge which is the Haleiwa Bridge. Follow the signs that say Haleiwa and go straight. You'll come across another sign that says, 'Haleiwa' with an arrow indicating to turn left or 'Kahuku' with an arrow facing up to go straight. If you choose either route, it will get you to your destination. We highly recommend you stop by Haleiwa town for some 'shaved ice' (somewhat like a snow cone, only better) which is one of the reasons how Haleiwa got its name. You will approach Waimea Falls Park to your right and will pass, yet, another bridge which is the Waimea Bridge. If you passed Sunset Beach Elementary School, you went too far.
Immediately after Sunset Beach Elementary School, you will notice a Totem Pole with an Indian Head on your right. At this point, you may want to slow down because there is a small narrow road you will need to make a left directly in front of the Totem Pole. When you make a left through this narrow road, make another quick left. You can park anywhere along the left side of the road or in front of Ehukai Beach Park. If you choose to park alongside the road, you'd have to go through a 'Public Access' in between some houses to get to the beach. If you want to make instant enemies, then go through the Kamaaina's (resident's) property; otherwise, use the 'Public Access' pathway.
If you prefer to use public transportation, you should take the Number 52 Bus (Wahiawa Circle Isle Bus). If you have any questions, you may want to call (808) 531-1611. The name of the bus is, "The Bus". I kid you not! The name of the bus is really called "The Bus". One important item of interest you should remember, "Whatever you do, don't ask the bus driver any questions; otherwise, he'll snap your head off, so please call the telephone number to "The Bus" provided or find out exactly where you're going before you decide to use public transportation. Unfortunately, the bus drivers don't make the public transportation experience a pleasant one and their customer service is something to be desired. Another thing you may want to check is when will the last bus be stopping near Banzai Pipeline. There's nothing worse than being stuck in an unknown area with very little money and an empty stomach. The North Shore is a fairly safe area, but it's always wise to find out information prior to your travels.
The way to tell that it's the Pipeline is by the break in the waves (or hollow barrel-like shape of waves). You can smell the saltwater when you come close to the ocean. You can hear the surfers laughing on the stairs as you approach the beach. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. For you ladies, forget Waikiki Beach because at Banzai Pipeline you'll find incredible hunks who can blow Brad Pitt out of the water, with their firm hardbodies and bulging muscles just waiting for you to enjoy. For you men, you'll want to keep coming back to Banzai after seeing the half naked women who are 'Kristie Brinkley' look alikes with their thong bikinis, long hair, crystal colored eyes, and a body to make any man beg for mercy. The surfers are visible from the shore where they are squatting in a crouched position on their surfboards waiting to catch the next wave. When walking on the shoreline, you can feel how soft and smooth the sand is as you pick up a handful.
For those who have children, you may want to reconsider bringing them unless they are experienced swimmers because the waves are extremely rough. If you prefer to bring your children, we recommend you remain close to the lifeguard to your left of Ehukai Beach Park or close to the jetty or rocks which is where a small handful of children are usually swimming in the shallow, but somewhat calm area.
As we choose a comfortable spot and take several pictures of the surfers in the water, we notice a lifeguard on a 3-wheeler riding along the shore who is stopping every few feet, posting long poles with a sign and an orange flag. Our curiosity got the best of us. We had to get up to see what the commotion was all about. The sign said, "NO SWIMMING", so we had to relocate. We moved toward the right side, where several people were on the rocks with cameras. They appeared to be professional photographe rs by the type of camera they were using.
The dense population is what attracts most local boys and tourists alike to this surfer's paradise. Although the water is quite rough, it can also be very relaxing and peaceful. The shallow water is incredibly clear. So clear, in fact, that you can see the reflection of your pretty of your face. We notice pools of tiny fish as we swim in the shallow area. We later found out that they were called hole hole fish (pronounced ola ola). Banzai Pipeline is very much unlike Waikiki beach where the water is quite dirty, full of liter, and seaweed all over the shore.
A few supplies you may want to consider are: a map for 'da kine' (a universal Pigeon word, meaning: whoever or whatever) who don't know where the locals stay; a camera or binoculars to checkout the beautiful scenery; a towel to dry off with; a Hawaiian Sun Tropical Fruit Juice or a Aloha Iced Tea drink; suntan lotion for the sun bathers or sunscreen (block #15) for the lighter complexion folks or the 'hauole' people (Caucasians); wax for the dedicated surfers or rash guard to prevent you from getting a rash from the wax on your surfboard; or a spear to be used to poke your friends when they get too close to the Portuguese Man-O-War (jelly fish). For the devoted surfer, you may want to stop by Haleiwa town and rent a boogie board or a surfboard. There's plenty of shops in Haleiwa where you could rent various beach items. But most of all, bring your 'Aloha spirit' because you'll need it when you crack your head open when learning to surf for the first time. One word of caution, you may want to pack light because the sand is course and makes you sink when you're walking through it, so you wouldn't want to be carrying a heavy load when you're walking a couple of miles in this type of sand. It's a good walk from your car to the shore.
We got the impression that the atmosphere at Banzai Pipeline was, "Everybody knows everybody" mentality. We had the opportunity to speak with a lady sunbathing while watching her two young children swimming in the shallow end. She lives out in Makakilo (the west side of Oahu) and spoke of how she wishes that they lived closer to the North Shore because her and her family come out every weekend to watch her husband surf. They all love it because it's somewhat less populated compared to most beaches.
Don't forget to stop by the little fruit stand where the Totem Pole is located and pick up some fresh fruit, vegetables, or some shaved ice. Or maybe, you might want to stop by Haliewa town for some lunch or a little window shopping.
We highly recommend Banzai Pipeline to the surfer, as well as, the nonsurfer. The local boys will welcome you with open arms by challenging you to catch the next wave. Families are also welcome to watch the surf bums fill their brain up with more water . The drive may be a little more than you planned, but it's a trip well worth taking.