by KIRK LEE AEDER/IMOCO
Somewhere in "Hidden Hawaii", there remains
a place of mystery, intrigue, and places to be explored.
Kelly Slater sat on the black stone wall, staring out
at the moving blue sea as an occasional three to five
foot set exploded off the jagged lava reef, providing
a luring temptation. But, Kelly was content to sit while
no one bothered him because, for the most part, there
was no one else around.
Light offshore trade winds tugged at the wave's cascading
faces. Over head, wild parrots whistled incessantly
in the swaying palm trees. Outside the lineup, spinner
dolphins, humpback whales, and green sea turtles were
easily visible in the turquoise-colored water. Kelly's
eyes seemed transfixed though on what was going on in
the ocean. He was far away from his monumental achievements
only a week before when he had won his second straight,
and third overall, ASP World Title at the 1995 Pipe
Masters in front of thousands of spectators on Oahu's
North Shore. In doing so, Slater had firmly secured
his legendary status in the history of surfing.
For the week that followed, Slater was besieged by
media requests, most of which he complied with. Yet
this was his time now, and a chance to escape from the
madness of it all to a place where he had never been
before. As Kelly continued to stare out at the ocean,
it was easy to tell that for a moment at least, he had
finally found a peace of mind. It was time to sit back,
take a deep breath, relax and surf with a few friends
away from the surfing media.
Ironically, after Slater left Oahu for one of Hawaii's
outer islands, the media immediately began searching
for his whereabouts. Word had begun to filter around
that he and a select crew of surfers were scoring perfect
surf with no one else around. The only question was
where. Also part of Slater's contingent were close friends
Shane Dorian, Kalani Robb, and Conan Hayes. The focus
of their attention was a rural outer Hawaiian Island
with a right break (one of many actually) that broke
directly in front of a foreboding black lava point.
It was an idyllic setting, an easy paddle out that masked
how dangerous the wave really was. Every wave was a
tube that somewhat resembled a smaller right version
of Tavarua. Egg-shaped barrels were commonplace.
As the sessions wore on, Slater and Dorian eventually
became the standouts. It was a difficult backside wave
for Kalani and Conan, yet there were no lefts anywhere
in the area so they had to contend with the right. Dorian
especially, had the place wired. Each wave would tube
along a different reef so the trick became figuring
out which one. Slater and his pals may have arrived
here incognito, but it didn't take long to even the
most casual observer that the boys in the water were
certainly no ordinary surfers. Before long, a small
crowd of onlookers had gathered and watched this "private
session" of ASP hotties.
If that wasn't enough, the next day Shane Dorian hosted
a kids "keiki" surfing contest for the young
local talent on the Island. Imagine the look on the
kid's faces when they show up for their heat and see
the likes of Slater and Kalani Robb hanging around.
The looks on their faces said it all and they were stoked
beyond belief. Autograph lines became as long as the
word that began to filter around the Island of the pro's
The local keiki kids all surfed well and seemed to
surf better, knowing that the pros were on the beach
watching them. Later that afternoon, Kelly and Shane
led the charge in the pro's expression session. Slater's
rebounding off the lip 360's and Dorian's aerial floaters
had the crowd in awe. Most observers had never even
seen such high performance surfing and the crowd seemed
to gasp at every wild maneuver. On one particular wave
Slater and Dorian took off at the same time and then
crisscrossed each other to the inside where Slater punctuated
it all by doing a 360 aerial over Shane's head.
The four pros all laughed while they were in the water.
It showed a fun side of surfing that the kids easily
related to. It was apparent that even the pro's still
knew how to laugh and have a good time. For everyone
who was there, it was indeed like going back to the
roots of surfing, which was mainly to just have fun.
The following day Conan and Kalani left the Island,
Slater ended up hanging around for another week just
to relax and Shane Dorian stayed even longer and scored
some even better waves the following week. On a day
that the biggest swell hit most of the coastline was
closed down but one kilometer down the coast from the
magic right Dorian surfed the week before another secluded
right was going off the Richter scale.
Shane Dorian hit the water and surfed it with a few
of the more experienced locals. It was a wave that if
you didn't make the drop then you would definitely be
flirting with potential disaster. The wave was a combination
of ten foot Matsube or ten foot Shark Island as it offered
a big round barrel with no room for error. Within just
a few hours, six boards had been broken, two of them
Dorian's and after snapping his second one, Dorian had
to paddle in precariously on half a board through pounding
sets and around boils of white water swirling above
sharp lava rock formations just feet below the surface.
But with help from some friends he was guided to shore
And yet just when you thought it was all over, more
swells continued to pound the coast of this mystery
Island of Polynesia for the ensuing weeks to follow.
The pros may have all left the Island, and embarked
again for another grueling year on the pro tour, but
the performances they put on there will always be remembered
by the locals who saw them perform. It was inspirational
to even the most hard-core and veteran surfers of the
island. Of course, there were those surfers who had
ripped here for years long before any of the pros showed
up, but even they seemed to be inspired. Among those
are Ian Haight, a long time haole local who scored some
of the best surf at a variety of spots. As northwest
swell after northwest swell struck this vulnerable coastline,
Ian was among a handful of local surfers who reaped
For goofy foots, this Island does not have a lot of
left breaking waves. Indeed, it's a regular foot's paradise
although many of the better spots are hard to get to
and require a four wheel drive vehicle. Ian Haight is
a regular foot with a four wheel drive vehicle so essentially,
where ever it's good you can expect to find Ian there.
Further up the coast where Slater, Dorian and the crew
had surfed, there were other places that were equally
as good. Ian, along with other locals Jerry Bess, Eric
Phillips, and Elizah Young all scored big rights at
various lava points up and down the coastline. Certainly
for everyone, it was the best winter season on this
Island in a long, long time.
With respect to the Island itself, and the local surfers
who live there, we did not want to name exactly where
it is, although some of you may already have figured
it out anyway. It all just goes to show that there are
indeed other places, no matter how remote, in the Hawaiian
Archipelago that are waiting to be surfed. As in any
place treat the locals with respect, and in all likelihood,
they will show you the aloha spirit in return. Of even
more importance is to treat the entire Island with respect.
Many myths and legends surround what goes on at this
particular Hawaiian Island and ancient Hawaiian forces
are still at work here, and it shows everywhere you
go. So treat the place kindly, but most of all, enjoy
it for what it is naturally.
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appeared originally in Coffee Times print magazine and
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