Ala Moana Bowls is an infested wave on many levels. On any given day, Bowls is infested with a thick crowd of thick locals throwing thick vibes. In 2008, 48 million gallons of raw sewage was dumped into the Ala Wai Canal, which ran straight out to sea into the Ala Moana line-up, infesting it with septic bacteria and the flesh eating disease, for months. So whether you decide to brave the crowd on a 3-foot day, or paddle out after a hard rain, you’ll need some thick skin!
What we should know about Ala Moana Bowls is this: It wasn’t considered a world class wave until the Army Corp of Engineers dredged the sand beside the reef in the 1950’s, creating a real channel. Before that there was no bowl, channel, or even canal. The surrounding area was considered an inshore estuary. But now what was an estuary is now called the Ala Wai Marina, with a long break wall running parallel with the ocean guarding the harbor. The Ala Wai canal runs across the west side of the Marina, straight out through the channel at Bowls, and water tests haven’t been satisfactory for some time—especially after heavy rains.
Apparently in the 1960’s Ala Moana was credited for being the birthplace of modern tube riding, and during the 1970’s guys like Larry Bertleman and Buttons were pushing the limits of high performance surfing on it’s fast hollow walls. Now Ala Moana is the focal point of Town surf spots. Bowls is like the Pipeline and Rocky Point of Town all meshed into one wave- crowd included. Whether it’s 2 to 8 feet, this long down-the-line wave is woven with a thick quilt of bodies and heads through it. From Japanese tourists and packs of groms on the inside, mid-range surfers, boogie boarders, and girls on longboards in the middle, to Bowls regulars, syndicate types, muscle heads, pro surfers, old-schoolers on tankers and everything in between on the outside. 5% of the guys catch 90% of the waves that come through too, so good luck if Bowls is your choice in the summer time. Luckily for guys like me who can’t catch waves out there on the regular, Bowls fits the mold for a perfect contest setup. There’s a nice grassy beach park across the channel with bathrooms, showers and ideal parking, along with a world class reeling left in the heart of Honolulu, Diamond Head in the background, you can’t go wrong.—Flynn Novak
Flynn Novak at Ala Moana. Photo: Noyle/SPL
Watch the Sponsor Me Hawaii Ala Moana Bowls contest live at transworld.net/ala-moana-bowls-live