Anyone who surfs knows what a party wave is. They can be fun, but at the same time frustrating and dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. A mix of strong currents and not so confident surfers can make some dangerous combinations and create precarious situations. But surfing is an amazing sport and a great way to escape the troubles of your everyday life that may linger on land.
When I use to live in Honolulu, Hawai`i I surfed when ever I could; spending as much as five or more hours at a time in the water when my schedule permitted. Surfing in Hawai`i is an adventure in its self, one I sought out often. The lucid light green water that slowly transitioned into a light blue and made its way to a darker blue as the depth below increased with distance from the shore, was hard to keep away from. Warm waters made it possible to spend all day amongst the waves and abundant sea life of monk seals, sea turtles (honus), various fishes and the occasional whale or two never failed to be present. One learns to accept that the ocean is not our home but theirs and respecting the ocean is a must for not just us but for all.
I’ve always said, “Surfing is free, ya just have to pay for a board.” It’s not like snowboarding or wakeboarding where you have to pay to use facilities, the ocean is free. Because of the low cost and the relaxing nature of surfing, it attracts many people to take up this sport. In Hawai`i many people surf and staking your claim on a surf spot is important. Over time you will notice the same people surfing the same spots, respecting them will make your time more enjoyable and in return earn you respect. But respect for all, goes out the window in Waikiki, Hawai`i.
Lei (the person I usually surfed with) likes to surf “Canoes” located straight out from the Duke Kahanamoku Statue. My preferred surf spot is “Cliffs” located off of Diamond Head. Since Canoes is located in Waikiki there are many people in the water, and many tourists trying their fate at surfing. Not just tourist but many locals surf there in Waikiki as well, the location is easy to get to and it is safer to surf there because lifeguards are on duty at this beach. Cliffs doesn’t have lifeguards and depending on tide the reef is much lower and can cause problems if you don’t know where to stay away from. When my friend and I would go surfing at canoes, being aware of everybody and every catamaran is a must. Novice surfers bail off their boards causing a rogue surfboard smashing into you or having to manipulate around out of control riders that don’t know what they are doing.
So many people surf in Waikiki that every set that comes in brings what we call “party waves”. As many as ten or more people take off on one wave. Experienced surfers can handle and maneuver with many people on one wave, but the amateurs are the ones that causes problems and collisions. If you are a novice surfer and you are surfing in a populated area, surf sets that are closer to shore rather than the far breakers. Gain confidence with the less populated and smaller waves, than the technical and crowed waves that require more experience. Though many tourist ignore the dangers of taking on more than what they can handle because they are on vacation and are invincible.
This is where my preferred location at Diamond Head is ideal. The waves are a little bigger and far less people. Since Cliffs is located outside of the touristy hotels and beaches the surfers are usually more experienced so misunderstandings are less common. Having more room to maneuver and move makes for more enjoyable rides. But no matter where the location is that you surf whether it is Hawai`i, California, Fiji or Australia, the thrill of being on a wave is addicting and alluring. Just remember to be careful of the party waves and enjoy the ride.