Up Your Authenticity Meter: Surf the North Shore

© Ryan Miller

It isn't just a test of your skills. The North Shore in winter is a cultural wonderland…

You saw the title clambake on Saturday. You saw what Pipeline looks like when it gets… real. As picture perfect as it was, and as easy as Miguel Pupo's roll-in bomb looked, surfing the Pipeline is the greatest challenge you'll ever face.

And then there's the football-sized lineup of Sunset. And the drifting tanks at Haleiwa. The monster righthand bowls of Laniakea. The under-appreciated lefts of Jocko's. The aerial jams into the trades at Rockies. And the all-time fun of beach park in between Rocky Rights and Pipe.

Do you call yourself a surfer?

Maybe you're one of those guys who's never been to the North Shore in winter, or on the other hand, one who will wax monotonous on its despicable nature. On the fights and overcrowding and the over-hyped nature of the waves.

Go. Just go. Land at Honolulu airport, hit the highway out to the North Shore. Feel yourself descend from the heights of the pineapple fields into the town of Haleiwa, barely changed in 50 years, and cruise Haawaii's most renowned seven mile stretch of coastline.

It is different and it is better than you could ever imagine. The waves are better. The people are better. The place is better.

The fruit is more fragrant than the mainland. The eggs and bacon on your plate from Cafe Haleiwa tastes better when you're still wet from a session at six-foot Off the Wall.

Everywhere you look is surf. Boards act as signs to strip stores. Everyone has a story to tell about this experience or that experience in big waves.

But it's authentic in a way many other famous surfing locations could never be.