Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Jaws and the Beach

In January 2016, Jaws, aka Peahi, had some phenomenal waves, even larger than typical for this monster surf spot. This photo is from a friend, Rachel Olsson, a talented, professional photographer who lives on Maui.

Cars parked all over the side of the road, on a grassy bluff, both sides of Hana Highway. You need to slow down because people aren’t paying attention and they are drunken on excitement or anticipation, their faces flushed. A few miles before, you may have even passed hitchhikers holding signs. 

Approaching the intersection of Hana Highway and Peahi Road, the turn off to Jaws.    Cars lining both sides of the highway.

What’s the commotion?

Jaws, the monster waves of Maui, are happening.  Jaws doesn’t “go off” or “break” all the time, only a dozen or so times a year, when there is enough high surf on the north shore. You’ll hear announcements on the weather report that there is a “high surf advisory or warning for the north (facing) shores of Maui.”  Waves can range from 25-70 feet!

"Not the way to Jaws." Once you reach the Peahi intersection and turn left towards the ocean, you'll want to turn left again. If you turn right you'll see this helpful sign!

During my first A-Z Challenge, I wrote J is for Jaws. It’s a good introduction to the infamous waves.

When the waves are quiet, in between sets, sometimes it's more fun to watch the people. Jimmie Hepple is a well-known Jaws photographer - he's in the upper left corner.

But no one ever writes about the beach. Or do they? There is a short and sweet hike below the lookout point for Jaws that takes you to a rocky beach with ironwood trees. There, you can watch Jaws from sea level, instead of from the bluff. The trail starts to the right of the bluff, as you’re facing the ocean. You can usually see people walking down it or coming up from it if you pay attention.

Trail that leads down the hill to the beach below the Jaws overlook.

Some photographers even like to camp out here, close to the beach, to get fantastic shots of the action. The waves look bigger down here. 

The stony beach at Jaws.

Look closely to where the arrow in the bottom picture points. It's where the photographer, in the top picture is actually located, perched above the beach. It's Mike Neal's sweet photography spot for Jaws action.

If you stay here long enough you can watch the surfers who survived Jaws crawl out of the ocean. They look haggard and exhausted, looking like they will collapse at any moment, kind of like some bloggers at the end of April. All they need are rashguards (protective surf tops) or vests that say, “I survived Jaws.”

After a harrowing ride, a surfer climbs out of the sea.

Another view of the beach at Jaws.

A spectator perched on the rocks, kind of like a Maxfield Parrish painting. It's not the best photo but I love it. It captures the "entranced" look of someone mesmerized by Jaws. 

Jaws is located in Haiku on Google maps.

If you are participating in the A to Z Challenge, please use either Disqus or Facebook to comment below. Please include your link so that I can visit you back, but it might be as late as May! (I'm still not sure I'm fully committed to this because of ahem, the "chicken terracing project," so if I can get through this week... we'll see.)

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