The Roundup

Catch a Wave: 9 Ultimate Pacific Surf Spots

by Laird Hamilton

Laird Hamilton gets some serious air. Photo courtesy of Laird Hamilton.

Laird Hamilton, the legendary big wave surfer and fitness professional, launched Laird Apparel, a collection of functional, performance-based clothing for men. Curious where he would go to use his new gear, we asked him for his favorite surf spots along the Pacific. 

THE PACIFIC OCEAN – I grew up in Hawaii — first Oahu, then Kauai, then Maui, and now back on Kauai — and have punctuated my time with stints on the mainland in Southern California. The Pacific Ocean is literally home to me. Because I spend most of my “working" days at sea, I know the waters intimately and thoroughly. These are my favorite spots. 

First Point, Malibu, California

A Malibu community favorite and a world-class point break. This spot is beautifully orientated north of the famous Malibu Pier. Hurricane Marie brought a twice overhead swell in 2014, allowing the possibility for me to successfully Shoot the Pier.

Paradise Cove, Malibu, California

A very unspoiled Malibu haven with several intricate breaks and hidden from the crowds. A family favorite of mine where I enjoy congregating with local stand-up paddlers for lengthy summer sessions and beach BBQs.

Punta Palmilla, Cabo, Mexico

I love this little break for entirely different reasons. I’m a regular at One & Only Palmilla, not only because I can have a total retreat experience but also because this beach, along with several other close breaks, is ideal for family sessions in a stunning setting.

Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii

The expansive horseshoe bay on the North Shore of Kauai offers a wide variety of surfable breaks easily reached from the two-mile beach. This is real Hawaii, somewhere I’m lucky to have grown up and where I find myself based for six months of the year. 

Laird Hamilton's stand-up paddleboard trick compilation shot in Hanalei Bay.

Pe’ahi (Jaws), Maui, Hawaii

This is a rare spot that’s considered sacred. Only the largest swells will allow it to break, but when they do, faces can reach up to 80 feet. This was once my backyard and where my friends and I developed tow-in surfing.

Egypt, Maui, Hawaii

This is another extraordinary break that rarely comes alive. We named it “Egypt" for the incredible backdrop of sharp mountainous peaks. I consider this the location of the largest waves I’ve ever ridden. The conditions were so treacherous there were no other teams, no air support, and no photographers. 

Laird Hamilton at One&Only Palmilla.

Laird at One and Only Palmilla. Photo by Jennifer Cawley. 

Lumahai Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

Possibly my favorite beach in the world! It’s not really a surfing beach, although it has a monstrous shore break that my friends and I have always loved to body surf. (We call it crisis training.) This beach has an extremely dangerous rip current and claims several lives a year.

Teahupoo, Tahiti

This is home to possibly the most notorious wave on the planet — and certainly the most powerful. This explosive Tahitian tube crashes in over a razor-sharp reef only feet below the surface. This is where I rode the Millennium wave, one of the greatest highlights in my career. This area is equally notable for its French Polynesian residents, many of whom I call my closest friends. 

Laird discusses surfing that crazy wave.

Cloudbreak, Taverna, Fiji

Cloudbreak, which is about three miles straight south of Namotu Island, is a world-class left reef pass. This is a difficult wave for sure, but it’s often quiet and unspoiled. Annually I enjoy a visit here riding one of my stand-up guns. 


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