Born in 1946 on Maui, in the small town of Kahului, Edward Ryon Makuahanai Aikau became the third child of Solomon and Henrietta Aikau. Eddie’s love for surfing began at the Kahului Harbor, and from that point on his devotion for the ocean continued to grow. The Aikau family later moved to the island of O’ahu. In 1968, at the age of 22, Eddie Aikau became the first lifeguard hired by the City & County of Honolulu to work on the North Shore. Eddie’s post covered all of the beaches between Sunset and Haleiwa. He was later deemed the first exclusive lifeguard of Waimea Bay, under his watch not a single life was lost at sea.
In 1978 Eddie joined the Polynesian Voyaging Society and agreed to sail aboard the Hokule’a in a 30-day, 2,500 mile journey from the Hawaiian islands to Tahiti. The migration was interrupted when the double-hulled canoe formed a major leak and the vessel capsized 12 miles south of Maui. In an attempt to get help, Eddie volunteered to paddle on his surfboard towards the island of Lana’i. While the crew was later rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, Aikau was never seen again. The search for Eddie Aikau was the largest air-sea search in Hawaiian history.
Eddie’s sacrifice is an important part of Hawaiian Culture and is celebrated with The Eddie Big Wave International. This premier surfing event — some even call it the Super Bowl of Surfing — celebrates the communities top big wave surfers while honoring those that came before them, Eddie Aikau included. Eddie often braved waves that reached 30 feet or more, proving to be one of Hawaii’s best. Eddie Aikau will forever remain one of Hawaii’s most revered watermen.
Just as in year’s past, the 33rd Annual Eddie Big Wave International will only run if surf heights reliably reach 20-feet. The contest’s season began on December 1st and will continue to run through February 28, 2019. This year’s invitational is hoping to bring attention onto the Hawaiian history, with a goal to spread Hawaiian Culture with the world.
May we remember to spread Aloha this holiday season. Here at North Shore Explorers we take great pride in Hawaii and its loving and warm culture. There’s nowhere else we’d rather be for the holidays than our very own Hawaii Nei. Mele Kalikimaka and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou from our North Shore Explorers Ohana to yours!