- 02 August 2012 | Surfing
Surf companies have been investing in the most expensive beach houses, on Oahu’s North Shore’s renowned breaks.
In the last couple of decades, brands like Billabong, Rip Curl, Quiksilver and O'Neill have set their Hawaiian headquarters a few meters away from the world's top class wave barrels.
How much does it cost to own a royal surf palace, right in front of Pipeline? Who owned these beach houses before the surf industry opened their eyes? Which surf brands can actually afford king-sized beds, game rooms and flat TV screens?
Sean Yano, a real estate specialist from Prudential Locations, has been watching carefully the evolution of this market, from since he was a young surfer.
"We would hang out at Ronald Hill’s house, close to Laniakea, with the late, great Todd Chesser, Brock and Clark Little, and Todd Mitsui just to name a few. Ronald’s parents had an “open-door” policy at the house so anyone and everyone was always welcome", explains Yano.
"Benji Weatherly’s family lived in the current and original Volcom house during that time, and because it’s located right in the hot spot in front of Pipe", he adds.
Meanwhile, the real estate market has changed dramatically. Blame surfing. Home values along Ke Nui Road have skyrocketed – in some cases by more than 300% - in the last five years alone, according to recent studies.
The Volcom Pipe House is one of the most iconic beach houses, at Banzai Pipeline. Bruce Irons and friends eat, sleep, surf and play there all winter long. Jamie O'Brien lives next door.
The famous 3,000-square-foot palace has reportedly costed $4.2 million. It is also known as the "House of Gerry Lopez", who lived and observed the surf there for decades.
"In those days, it was common for the larger corporate surf companies to rent houses during the winter contest seasons, but they've started to realize the great investment opportunities owning real estate in Hawaii offers", reveals Sean Yano.
But, Volcom has more beachfront real estate. In 2005, two years before the Volcom Pipe House, the brand a single-story further along the shore. This is the perfect place for surf parties and endless barbecues.
Billabong owns three surf beach houses on the Oahu's North Shore. The "A-Team" beachfront palace offers six bedrooms for 18 surfers and family, three kitchens, two large living rooms, a third level observatory deck and backyard lanai. If you've won the lottery, you can rent it from March 15th through October 15th.
Andy Irons lived there with his wife Lyndie, but Joel Parkinson and Taj Burrow are still seen there watching the Pipeline sets.
Quiksilver, a North American surf brand, has its Pipe House located at 59-367 Ke'nui Road. Kelly Slater, Dane Reynolds, Clay Marzo and Fred Patacchia are regular costumers.
Oakley, O'Neill, Nike, Rip Curl and Vans are established a little further north and south of Backdoor and Pipeline. Are they wonderful? Absolutely.
In Hawaii, the winter season kicks off in October. Companies willing to rent a beach house in front of the world's finest surf arena will have to pay between $15,000 and $20,000 per month to show off their industry power.