SUNSET BEACH (HawaiiNewsNow) - The first big northwest swell of the season drew experienced surfers and big crowds to beaches on Oahu's north shore Sunday.
North shores of Oahu, Molokai, Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii, and north and west shores of Kauai and Niihau, were under a high surf advisory Sunday. The big waves came in overnight, and they didn't disappoint.
"Some waves were definitely about what we can call maybe 15 foot on the face. Hawaiian style, like six to eight foot," said Liam McNamara. "Definitely worthy of the first high surf advisory of the year."
"Oh the waves are unreal today, you know?," Makua Rothman said. "Can't ask for nothing better than an early season swell and get the warm up for all the contests."
McNamara and Rothman were just a few of the local pros who were more than ready to drop in at Sunset Beach to get back in the action for the winter season.
The waves also drew locals and visitors, wanting to check out the big waves.
"Every time we've come up here, it's been flat, so my wife wondered what the fuss was all about," said former Hawaii resident and frequent visitor Stuart Gasner, who now lives in San Francisco. "So I heard it was, you know, as much as 15 feet on the sets, so I figured they should see it."
Seeing the waves meant putting up with the usual traffic around the popular surf spots. And it also signaled the start of the busy season for lifeguards, who reported making dozens of rescues up and down the North Shore. They also issued hundreds of what are technically called preventive measures, or warnings to people to get out of, or farther away from, the water.
Ocean safety officials said Sunday's swell marked the start of the winter surf season, and reminded beach goers to heed all warning signs and to obey lifeguards.
Gasner told his wife he was more than happy to stay a safe distance from the shorebreak and to leave the wave riding to the pros.
"She said 'don't you dare go out in this,'" Gasner said. "And I told her I'm too old," he added, laughing.
But if you were a pro surfer, this was the kind of day you waited for all summer.
"Conditions of the waves are phenomenal," Rothman said after getting out of the water. "It doesn't get too much better than this, and thanks to Sunset Beach for giving us a wonderful day."