5 tips for watching the Vans World Cup of Surfing on the North Shore of Oahu


Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, the opening rounds of the Vans World Cup of Surfing kicked off at Sunset Beach. This is the second gem of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the most-coveted surf contest series in the world. There are two days left of competition for the World Cup and with a giant northwest swell forecast to hit Oahu’s North Shore on Wednesday this event is shaping up to be a jaw-dropping display of big wave surfing when it resumes competition.

Since there is a good chance that World Cup of Surfing may conclude sometime at the end of this week we thought to share these 5 tips on how to maximize your viewing experience at Sunset Beach.

1.    Hotline Bling: Call before you go to the show.

The Vans World Cup of Surfing holding period is Nov. 24. through Dec. 6, but this event only needs two more 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 event 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.

2.    Vans Triple Crown Shuttle from Turtle Bay: Skip parking with a convenient rideshare.

If you’re looking to fully enjoy spectating at the World Cup of Surfing then we suggest forgoing the hassle of finding parking near Sunset Beach Park and the traffic jams that ensue. Instead, head to the Turtle Bay Resort, park there and jump on one of their shuttles that depart at 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. to the contest site for $25 per person. Book your seat on the shuttle here.

A rainbow leads to the pot of gold at Sunset Beach.
Photo courtesy of WSL/Scholtz

3.    Parking: Sunset Beach is your best bet.

If you absolutely have to drive then 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.

4.    Don’t turn your back to 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 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.

In addition to being the reigning Big Wave World champ,
Makua Rothman is also a former World Cup of Surfing winner.
Photo courtesy of WSL/Masurel


5.    Experience > Luck: Watch how the past champs do it.

Sunset Beach is one of those waves that a surfer’s familiarity with the break directly affects their success out there, especially when the surf is big. In the final two days of competition we suggest watching the heats of former HIC Pro champs like Mason Ho, Evan Valiere, Ian Walsh and Joel Centeio. Past World Cup winners like Michel Bourez, John Florence and Makua Rothman also know what it takes to win at Sunset Beach.

Categories: Oʻahu