Banzai Pipeline - Hawaii's Surfing Jewel
The Banzai Pipeline is as good as it gets for surfing. Yes, there are other places with bigger, or longer waves, but the "Pipe" on Oahu's north shore is legendary and shows no signs of giving up its reputation as one of the world's best surf breaks.
Like the rest of Hawaii's north-facing beaches, Pipeline is in the path of the large ocean swells generated by storms in the Pacific. However, its shallow bottom causes the waves to suddenly peak and throw forward creating its legendary tube that surfers from all over the world come to challenge.
"Pipes" is one of the best spectator spots due to its world renown waves that break relatively close to the shore. On a good day, there are photographers lining the beach and a fair number out in the lineup as well!
The very bottom which makes waves break so perfectly is also a deadly threat to surfers unfortunate enough to get pummeled by the tons of whitewater that can keep them under and dash them into the sharp coral that lie beneath the surface. Frequent injuries, and a number of deaths, are attributed to this dangerous break a recent tragedy being the death of a well-known photographer who was dashed to the coral bottom and drowned.
Offering a break relatively close to the shore, Pipeline draws both surfers and scores of spectators that sit in quiet awe as they watch the surfers paddle and drop into waves that look nearly impossible to survive.
The waves at this surfer's mecca, due to the sudden rise of the ocean bottom, peak very quickly giving surfers little time to pick up the momentum needed to catch the wave. Thus, the surfers are required to catch the waves at a point where they're critical enough to begin dropping down the face.
This 6-shot sequence gives somewhat an idea of a successful ride at Pipeline...
... and a not so successful ride!
The Banzai Pipeline is definitely a "must see" when the surf is up is up on Oahu's north shore. Get there if you can!