Habitat: Pancho Sullivan

Pancho Sullivan Habitat


Infested with rats. Riddled with cockroaches and centipedes. Marauding mosquitoes. Five sweaty Brazilians in one room. These are normal living conditions on the North Shore of O’ahu. These accommodations, however, are for the mere mortals—guys who have to settle for Monster Mush and Stone Zone rather than dominate Backdoor and Pipeline. Guys like Pancho Sullivan have put in their time and paid their dues. He’s done with the squalor and schizophrenic landlords that define the North Shore living experience. Recently, Pancho was kind enough to give TransWorld SURF the opportunity to check out the lair of a true legend in the making.

The first thing you notice when descending into “Pancho Land” is the sheer expansiveness of the property. Pancho has three acres of land with papaya, coconut, mango, lychee, banana, tangerine, and avocado trees—all in various stages of growth. Keeping him busy with the weed whacker and chainsaw are menacing ironwood trees and pesky California grass (not that grass). The bottom part of the property has a natural amphitheater-like quality to it and has been the site of at least one reggae concert.


Pancho’s house is a remarkably clean two-story, one-bedroom palace. Not a freakish don’t-touch-anything-or-don’t-sit-anywhere type of clean, but a melt-into-the-couch kind of clean. Balconies have been positioned to funnel the gentle Hawai’ian breezes through his living room. Framed tapa maps and family photos decorate the walls, and a computer nook has been set up to track swells and plan accordingly. This is no surf shack. In fact, Pancho keeps most of his surfboards at a friend’s house near Pipe (but don’t go lookin’ around, fool). Under construction nearby is a garage with a flat above it—the future home of Pancho’s mother, who helps take care of the place while her son is traveling. Pancho also credits his mom for getting him into the habit of keeping the place clean.

Pancho’s favorite part of the house? “The Jacuzzi is great after a hard day of surfing, and it gets kinda cold up here in the winter. The peace and quiet, the serenity, is also really cool.”

His future plans for the property include a way to cut down on the ridiculous cost of groceries: ” (I want to) plant more fruit-bearing trees and vegetables so the land is self-sufficient. I don’t want to have to go down to Foodland and hand over my liver every time.”

So how did Pancho get such a lush setup without having to hand out other body parts? He explains, “I got a good deal on the place because nobody wanted to touch it. It was totally overgrown, and there was no power or plumbing. The house was just four posts, a corrugated roof, and screened in. I lived in it like that for a while.” In other words, in 1998, he paid around 225,000 dollars for three acres in the true surfers’ paradise, the North Shore of O’ahu.

So, the next time you’re hunched over in your rented-out closet at V-Land, slapping at mosquitoes and pissing on your foot because your neighbor told you it would help the centipede bite, think about Pancho—kickin’ back in his Jacuzzi, reminiscing on his Backdoor pits. Let that be all the motivation you need to get your own slice of paradise.
—Justin Cote