The Bay by Mark McInnis

by The Editors on March 19, 2012 · 2 comments

I’m not going to act like I’ve been all over the world and surfed a lot of iconic waves. If I did that, I’d be lying. You can count my foreign surf travels on one hand. Out of the world-class waves located on the West Coast, I’ve surfed very few of them. So, I’m no expert.

Now that we have that all cleared up, let me tell you something that I do know about somewhere that I am familiar with.

If you’re a regular footer, enjoy long rights and don’t mind tropical waters, reef rash and hellacious crowds, you owe it to yourself to visit Honolua Bay.


It’s no secret. Just last year, Surfer Magazine named it the 13th best wave in the world in their 100 Best Waves issue. That’s sayin’ something. Honolua outranked Padang Padang, Bells, Lance’s Right, Rincon and Restaurants to name a few. Read that small list again and you’ll be googling before you finish reading this sentence. Like I said, it’s no secret, but because of its location, Honolua often get overlooked by its flashier cousins on the North Shore of O’ahu. So you don’t see a ton of press on it. And that’s a good thing.

However, if you visit The Bay and it’s head high to double overhead, expect to wait a while. The locals have it dialed and us white folk stick out like sore thumbs. The good news is that you will get a wave. Unlike the disrespectful gringo expats at Scorpion Bay, the Hawaiian locals generally play by the rules. Meaning that if you get in line and wait it out, when your wave comes, it’ll be your wave. And what a wave it will be. I have surfed The Bay when it has been working from The Point all the way through The Cave and into the Keiki Bowl section. That right there is about a hundred yard ride. And a fast hundred yards at that. Then there are the stories of legendary swells connecting Coconuts, all the way on the outside of the bay, through Subs, through The Point, through The Cave and through Keiki bowls. I’ve never seen that, but when it happens, if it happens, you’d be talking about a half mile paddle back outside. Maybe a little more and that’s no joke. Then, just wait another hour and snag another. It’s worth it.

Or maybe you’ll get lucky like a small group of friends and I did in 2008. We scored classic Honolua. 8–12 foot faces breaking at all the different points around the bay. It was the day after a holiday and it appeared that almost everybody had to be at work. From dawn until dusk there were only 20 people scattered about the entire day. And we would know. We were up there at daybreak and watched a full moon rise as we left. To this day it was the best — and longest — surf session of my life. There’s simply nothing like trading waves with your brothers at one of the best waves in the world.

If you haven’t already, I suggest you give it a go as Honolua is officially on death row. The nitwits responsible for developing the rest of Maui’s beautiful Westside have been trying to develop atop Honolua for years now. You can learn more and participate at SAVE HONOLUA. Not many other things would break my heart more than seeing this unbelievable wave reeling off below a bunch of golf courses and a Ritz Carlton. Help save Honolua. Please.

Thank you Dad. Thank you Maui. Thank you Honolua Bay.


Story by surfer/photographer Mark McInnis from his blog. Find out more about him and his photography here.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Rosenblatt March 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I’ve been lucky enough to surf many of the “top” waves in the world and I must
agree. I was lucky enough to get the Bay with my son and a good friend for a solid week at head to overhead and I will never forget the waves I got as well as the surfing I saw especially from some of the local Hawaiians. Your article brought back wonderful memories, thanks


mark mcinnis March 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm


thanks for the comment and i’m glad i could spark some good memories. it’s a magical place and i hope and pray that it will stay that way for some time.




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