5 tips for watching the HIC Pro at Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu
The HIC Pro is the official qualifier for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and the kickoff event to the annual North Shore winter season. Professional surf contests are one of the coolest free events to experience live on Oahu, but can be tricky for unfamiliar spectators.
We assembled the following list of tips for how to best watch the HIC Pro live and direct at Sunset Beach. Follow this guide so you can feel the salt spray on your face, the sand between your toes, the rumble of giant waves and the pure excitement of watching the world’s best surfers go head to head with each other and negotiate the powerful, world-class waves of Oahu’s North Shore.
The HIC Pro’s holding period is Oct. 28 through Nov. 10, but this event only needs two to three days of “contestable conditions” to complete the event. Therefore, directors of pro surf contests are looking at swell forecasts and weather reports to make a call when to run the event. Most of the time contest directors are making the call to run the morning of the event so spectators need to check the HIC Pro website or call the hotline, (808) 596-7873, after 8 a.m. to see if the contest is a go or no-go for the day.
Bring, sunscreen, food and drink
The closest store to Sunset Beach is a seven-minute walk to Chevron gas station with a limited selection and the high prices of a convenience store. So stop at a store in Haleiwa (if you’re coming from the west) or Laie (if you’re coming from the east) and pack a cooler with drinks and lunch. Sometimes there is a food truck that will park at Sunset Beach, but don’t bank on it. Sunscreen is a must as there is not a lot of shade available.
The best place to park is the parking lot across the street of Sunset Beach because the showers and bathroom are in the same area. If you happen to luck upon a spot on the beachside, we suggest backing into the stall so it’s easier to get out when you leave. Keep an eye out for no parking signs and don’t park in front of a resident’s driveway because that is asking for a parking ticket or a tow.
The HIC Pro starts with 122 contestants, and the action really starts heating up when the field of competition is whittled down to the Round of 64 aka the “money round.” Don’t worry about watching all of the early heats as the best action is in the back half of the event. Typically, surf contests run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. so plan accordingly.
Don’t turn your back on the ocean
Always be mindful of the ocean when at Sunset Beach or anywhere on the North Shore. Don’t pose for a picture on the shoreline with the big waves at your back because that is a recipe for disaster. Also keep track of your keiki in the shore break and consult a lifeguard before going in the water because if there is a contest like the HIC Pro running then wave heights are usually big. Another common blunder is when people lie too close to the water’s edge and when a big set of waves comes in the water rushes up the beach, drowning cell phones and other electronic devices. Once again, consult a lifeguard about ocean conditions before setting up your beach towel.