Not too long ago, I was made aware that some people think I am living the life of a surf bum in Hawaii. Although I like to act like I am focused on a lot more important things in life, I am starting to think they are right. If you knew what my daily thoughts were, you’d see that I’m pretty much only focused on surfing everyday just because I can.
I live everyday to get out surfing. If the waves suck then I’m at the skatepark, snorkeling, or cliff-jumping, I live off of as little as possible so that I can save money for more surfboards, leashes, and anything else I could ever need for surfing, and it doesn’t matter how tired I get, I get up and do the same things everyday and love it.
Here are a few tips I have for someone who wants to spend some time being a surf bum in Hawaii.
Find a Cheap Place to Live
When I say cheap, what I mean is cheap for Hawaii. I don’t even really know what it costs to live elsewhere in the world, but if you take a good look at Craigslist postings I think you will get a good idea about what is cheap for Hawaii.
But rather than search all over the internet for postings about a room for rent, here’s a better idea. Find somewhere you can stay for just a few days or weeks while you look in person for a place to settle in at. A lot of locals on the North Shore and surrounding area really aren’t the best at posting online or answering emails.
The best thing to do is get here and check the boards outside the grocery stores for rooms or places for rent. The locals are much better at working things out if you are already here and are talking to them on the phone or in person. That way you can also go check out what you are getting into before you come to any conclusions about where you should live.
The Foodland on the North Shore has a message board to check, and so does the Foodland in Laie just around the bend, and trust me, they are always full with places for rent. There are also local listings at grocery stores and shops in Haleiwa.
Find Cheap Transportation
Unfortunately, you cannot take your surfboard on the bus in Hawaii. The buses can get you anywhere on the island and are really easy to figure out, its just a bummer that they aren’t there to help you get to the waves. There are a ton of cars for sale on the island for really cheap.
If you are careful, you can end up with a really good car for a good price, or for next to nothing. Most my friends here drive cars that they purchased in the $1000-$2000 range. So if you really want to be a surf bum here, then sell your car at home, get a cheap one here and pocket the difference.
Or you just have to hope you can get really lucky. I have a friend that paid $300 for a car that ran for 8 months. Not bad at all. But here’s the best part about this island…you can hitchhike anywhere, with or without surfboards. Everyone helps everyone else out, and you can catch rides really quickly.
Know Where to Shop
The Foodland on the North Shore is the most expensive grocery store around, probably because it is the only one around.
The Laie Foodland and Haleiwa stores are also very expensive. But in Hau’ula (just 20 minutes away) they have a Tamura’s, a place that is a lot cheaper for groceries. There is also a Costco and Wal-mart in Mililani, about a 30 to 45 minute drive away.
I find that to save the most money here you need to plan your shopping days and go further away to stock up on food at lower prices.
Getting Surfboards on a Budget
With airline prices these days, it’s pretty stupid to bring a ton of boards over here. Plus you probably don’t ride the same boards at home that you are going to want to ride out here. I guess that really depends on where you are coming from.
But if you are coming from somewhere with big, consistent surf everyday, then why are you coming? There are two options here for getting boards on a budget. The first is to buy them used. You can find more used surfboards here than you ever could imagine because nearly everyone on the island surfs. Craigslist is a good place to check online, as well as surfboardshack.com.
The Sharks Cove Surf Shop right next to Foodland on the North Shore and all the stores in Haleiwa have a ton of used surfboards for sale. The second option is to buy them new, but in the right way. Find a local shaper and get them made for you. Most any shaper on the island will do custom boards for $400, and sometimes you can get deals for getting a few at once. You could never get $400 custom boards in California from a good shaper without some sort of personal connection. Here it is actually pretty easy.
Once you have a place to stay, a way to get around, food to eat, and surfboards to ride, you are set to be a surf bum in Hawaii. The surf here is incredible, so it’s worth trying at least for some portion of your life. I’ve met a lot of people that have come here for 3 months, or one winter season, or even a full year, and then gone back to school, work, or whatever else they were doing.
They always have the greatest experience moving out here and trying to live on nothing while spending every day in the ocean. Trust me, I still do it and I love it, and dread the day I might have to leave. When you show your face out in the water everyday, or at the skatepark, or at the local shops and stores, people start to recognize you.
When they know you are a resident and not just a tourist for a week, they really open up and you meet some of the nicest people. There are a lot of places you could go be a surf bum, but the North Shore of Oahu has to be one of the best.