Honolulu's Waikiki Beach: the perfect place to share waves and the stoke | Photo: Shutterstock

"Ohana" is the Hawaiian word for family. And like "aloha," it has a much bigger and deeper meaning than just your relatives.

For me, the people I surf with and our shared experience in the water are just as important as the waves.

By coincidence or divine intervention, I have been in Oahu for the last two Eddie Aikau Invitational events (2016 and 2023).

My first visit to Hawaii to surf was in February 2016. It was also my third trip to Hawaii and my first return in 20 years.

The earlier summer, I had just started surfing in Huntington Beach and could barely stand on a surfboard.

February 2016

Riding in the van from the Kai Sallas Surf School office to the break with my fellow students and two instructors, the Eddie was on.

The chit-chat with the real surfers was about comparing the size of the waves to the height of the lines between the utility poles and the size of the waves at Waimea Bay.

It was all in awe of the size and trying to explain the excitement from the guys who were good enough surfers to be entrusted with the lives of four people new to surfing and with little ocean experience.

The Eddie was televised 24/7 on local Honolulu TV; one could watch the heats almost endlessly.

Riding to the lesson the second day, I could now compare what da boys were talking about to the power and speed of the knee-high waves we were all trying to catch.

The few waves I caught the second day were now compared with what I was experiencing in the water on the South Shore.

Steve Brown (right) and friends: sharing waves with his ohana | Photo: Brown Archive

January 18, 2023

"The Eddie is on."

My wife Carie and I are at the Pickleball courts near Fort DeRussy in Honolulu, late afternoon after my second day of surfing in between Ala Moana Bowls and Rock Pile.

"It was called on this morning."

Seeing the surf break from our Lanai - no need to check Surfline that morning - I feel blindsided but stoked.

I'm back at the condo for sunset, and the news that The Eddie is on has exploded on surf media and Honolulu TV.

There is electricity in the air.

January 19-20, 2023

Thursday and Friday, Eddie Fiel and I fight a 2–3-foot wind shop to find waves. I've done it once before and had a great day.

It's a lot of work being blown all day downwind and little ability just to sit up and rest, but catching a wave in these conditions is satisfying.

The only downside is feeling the motion of the ocean like we were out there on a boat. And it does not calm down till late evening.

January 21, 2023

Saturday was a return to average 2-3 mellow South Shore surf in town.

The return to calm waters reinforces just how special the conditions are at In Betweens. Surfline says conditions are poor to fair.

At home in Oregon, the air temp is 37 °F (2 °C), water temp 50 °F (10 °C), which is too cold for many locals but rated "good" on Surfline.

My suggestion is to call the Honolulu conditions "sweet." Eddie Fiel asks why I even look at that site.

Luke Shepardson, a local lifeguard and waterman, wins The Eddie, an ending for the day that cannot be scripted.

The whole tournament, with all the excitement, still has the flavor of a small-time contest.

The invitee list is diverse, women get a chance to surf, and a local boy wins. It's perfect for The Eddie.

January 22, 2023

"The Eddie is on."

I check the heats to see when everyone will surf.

With continuous coverage on KHON2, my wife and I plan our days around watching our favorites.

January 25, 2023

Lauren Ahlgren of Oregon Surf Adventures, my main person in the water in Oregon and someone who works catering for surf events, and her friend Chad can come to town to surf with Eddie Fiel and me today.

The best energy of the last two weeks brings chest-to-shoulder waves on a slightly overcast afternoon.

The consistency, size, and shape allow everyone to pass anything that isn't perfect and still not wait long.

Lauren, who has not been in the water for two months, catches everything she sees.

Everybody has a big smile; Eddie captures a few select rides on the GoPro camera. All day, I get the waves as good as I have ever got surfing for seven years in Honolulu.

Once again, it's another great sunset overlooking the Ala Moana boat Harbor and breaks at In Betweens and Bowls, feeling the afterglow of a great day surfing with friends.

I get a text from Lauren. She wants Eddie Fiels's contact info and to come to town again to surf.

I then realized that I had shared my stoke and favorite spot with someone who surfs for a living and hangs out on the North Shore of Oahu with the pros.

Bob Vale: a lifelong surfer | Photo: Brown


My friend Bob Vale, who first took me surfing, was all about the stoke.

He passed away at the end of last summer. In honor of his memory, Wednesday, January 23, was dedicated to Bob.

Just like Eddie Aikau, Bob inspired by doing. What would Bob do? Share his stoke with friends.

Twenty-five hundred miles from home, I share waves generated by weather another 2,000 miles away on the right day, in the shadow of Eddie Aikau and Duke Kahanamoku.

With age, ability, and a late start in life, I am an intermediate surfer on my best days.

But the wave sliding in Honolulu last week was beyond everything I thought surfing was about before I began.

Sharing the stoke of riding the Earth's energy with friends is also part of Ohana - the best.

Words by Steve Brown | Surfer

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