North Shore Oahu Surf Contests to Watch

Updated August 2021

Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing, and by default competitive surfing. Even people who are not fans of the World Surf League (WSL) plan their vacations around the Billabong Pipe Masters and the hoopla surrounding the events of the VANS Triple Crown. They are major tourism draws. But after a tumultuous 2020-21 the schedule has been thrown for a loop, and visitors are uncertain about where and when events will take place for 2021-22 and beyond. Fret not, because we have the inside scoop to make sure you don’t miss out on contests that happen to coincide with your plans to visit the North Shore.

Note: The calendar of events below begins with the winter “surf season” on the North Shore, which starts in late October of each year.

Updated Schedule of Pro Surfing Competitions Taking Place on the North Shore of Oahu this Year

Sunset Pro

Where: Sunset Beach, Pupukea

When: October 27 to November 9, 2021

This WSL qualifier (for the WCT) event runs at Sunset Beach, home of the world’s most photographed palm tree, across the road from pro-surfer owned Sunrise Shack. and near the best bakery on Oahu. So even if the waves are flat, you’ll be entertained.

Vans Triple Crown of Surfing

Where: Ali’i Beach Park / Sunset Beach / Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline)

When: November 13 to December 20, 2021

North Shore Surf Competitions
image: @marcus_ocean

While the WSL is finalizing the details (as of July 2021) for the return to the iconic VANS Triple Crown of Surfing, the event is indeed back! The month-long event includes the Hawaiian Pro at Ali’i Beach (which may involve the new Haleiwa Challenger Series event detailed below), the VANS World Cup at Sunset Beach, and the Billabong Pipe Masters.

North Shore Surf Competitions

Haleiwa Challenger

Where: Ali’i Beach Park, Haleiwa, Oahu

When: November 25 to December 7, 2021

After the events of 2020-21 forever altered the surf contest schedule, the WSL announced (July 2021) the Challenger Series. The series’ season will wrap in Haleiwa towards the end of November and into December each year.

The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational

Where: Waimea Bay, Haleiwa

When: December 1 to February 28 (each year)

North Shore Surf Competitions

The “Eddie” is the most meaningful of all surf contests. The Eddie Big Wave Invitational honors the life of Eddie Aikau, a champion, lifeguard (who saved over 500 people), a waterman, and a ohana-man who ultimately gave his life to save others. For all that Eddie had accomplished on this earth, he was perhaps best known for braving Waimea Bay waves in excess of 30 feet or more, when no one else would go out. That’s why the contest is only held when waves reach a height of 30-feet (Hawaiian) and when conditions allow. In doing so, the event also celebrates the current lineage of big wave surfers. While it can be hard to plan a trip to the North Shore when a contest is solely dependent upon Mother Nature, you should check out the Opening Ceremony which is held on the first day of the contest waiting period.

Pipeline WSL Championship Tour Event

Where: Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline)

When: December 29 (2021) to January 11, 2022

This will supposedly be separate from the Billabong Pipemasters event at the VANS Triple Crown. As far as we’re concerned the more Pipeline, the better. The WSL has slotted the WSL Championship Tour event into the tail end of December, which typically equates better swell and ultimately bigger and more consequential waves. This is spectacular from a spectator perspective, so plan your days on the North Shore accordingly.

Da Hui Backdoor Shootout

Where: Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline)

When: January 2022 (exact dates TBD)

The Da Hui Backdoor Shootout offers a unique take on the Pipeline surf contest concept. It begins with eight teams of four before whittling down to the finals. Further unlike WSL surf contests, which have a 10-point ride at the top of the scoring scale, the Backdoor Shootout recognizes that there needs to be room for those extra-throaty barrels, and therefore adjusts the scale to include 12-point spitters. Organizers are awaiting permit clearance before announcing which days in January 2022 the event will run.

Sunset Beach WSL Championship Tour Event

Where: Sunset Beach

When: February 11-23, 2022

After cancelling the Sunset Beach WCT contest in 2021, the WSL has announced the official date and waiting period for the highly anticipated event for 2022. Spend Valentine’s Day (potentially) on the sands of this legendary spot and fall in love with professional surfing all over again.

Volcom Pipe Pro

Where: Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline)

When: February 2022 (exact dates TBD)

Considered by some to be the best surf contest at Banzai Pipeline, the Volcom Pipe Pro runs each annum, but was sidelined two years in a row thanks to you-know-what. It is expected to return for 2022, but Honolulu City Council will have to cut some red tape to make it happen. We’ll be among the first to find out, so stay tuned as you’ll be next in line.

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