5. Watch Surfers Take on Monstrous Waves, Oahu
The North Shore of Oahu is what you’d expect in a laid-back surf community: Kids ride skateboards down back roads, neighbors share mangoes over fence posts, and watching the sunset is a daily, must-do ritual. In winter months, surfers from across the globe travel to this picturesque coastline to test their chops on heavy, building-size waves. To witness the best among them, visit during the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, a professional competition held November 12 through December 20 at Haleiwa’s Alii Beach Park, Sunset Beach, and Banzai Pipeline—a dangerous and euphoria-inducing wave that barrels over shallow reefs. Unlike in most pro sports, Mother Nature calls the shots here. To comply, each event has a holding period, in which contests are held on the three to four biggest and best days of surf at each location. Check the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing website on the morning of for updates. If the surf gods keep you waiting, fill your belly at the many roadside shrimp trucks or cruise into Haleiwa town to try shave ice.
Activity Tip: For a water adventure of your own, head to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on Oahu’s southeast coast. Here, you can snorkel with green sea turtles and technicolor reef fish in what was once a volcanic crater.