Hawaii Bodysurfing

I had been thinking about doing a bodysurfing page on the site when the Sunday news mentioned a huge swell was in the works for the South Shore during the week.

Just a few weeks ago, I dragged my daughters with me to Sandy Beach, on the East side of Oahu, for some bodysurfing picts but the surf was a dismal one to two feet--not much to convey the excitement of the sport at all!

Out of shape as I am, any form of surfing is now more a fond memory than it is something to which I look forward. But when the swell hit on Wednesday, I was there waiting with my camera, rather than a pair of fins, and ended up with some great reminiscing and some pretty decent photos, too!

Photo above and below: Dropping in...
then a couple of seconds later, about to get dropped on!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005: South swell gets big... and so does the crowd at Point Panics!

An avid board surfer from my middle school years through college, I never paid much attention to body surfing. While it looked to be somewhat fun, catching a wave with nothing more than a pair of fins didn't seem to offer the driving power you felt with a board under your feet.

Then one day, after classes at the University of Hawaii, my brother and a friend decided to hit the water at Sandy Beach since we were too lazy to go home and get our boards.

The conditions at Sandy's were such that we were getting some decent rides and really enjoying the four- to five-foot drops we experienced as the waves exploded in height against the wall of water caused by prior waves receding from their climb up the steep beach.

After a few hours, we were getting pretty adept at riding the face of the wave as long as it held then diving under it as it closed out. When my brother loaned me his fins, I then realized that I was hooked on bodysurfing!

We ended going back the next day, then the next. After the third day, I ended up trading my surfboard with the shopkeeper at Hobie Surfboards for two pairs of fins, one for me and the other for my friend. I didn't miss surfing at all finding that the simplicity of bodysurfing was something I really loved.

One day, we ended up going to Point Panics on the South Shore. At the time, it was an unattractive dusty and rocky area at which we would go in and out of the water from a rock breakwater.

The whole area is now the beautiful Kakaako Waterfront Park complete with steps leading from the breakwater into the water. This unofficially "body surfing only" spot offers long rides unhampered by folks with either surfboards or bodyboards.

Point Panics, unlike the more well known Sandy Beach and Makapuu shorebreaks, offers a beautiful point break with a right that leads into the channel entrance to Kewalo Basin.

Because of the channel, Point Panics can still be surfed when big south swells hit and many of the other surf spots are "closed out."

When the surf's up at Panic's, you can catch a wave from outside...

take a big drop and get tubed...

then set yourself up to do it again... and maybe again!

In bodysurfing, as in so many other sports today, its all about getting air...

...big air!