2023 eddie aikau surf contest

Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational Surf Contest Waimea Bay Hawaii February 2016. Photo by Anthony Quintano https://flickr.com/

Who Won the 2023 Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational?

Waimea Bay Lifeguard Luke Shepardson has won the 2023 Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational. Congratulations to Luke on this incredible feat!

The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational officially commenced on Sunday, January 22, 2023, with this being the first time it has taken place since February 25, 2016. North Shore native Shepardson won with an impressive 89 points out of 90.

Like his inspiration, Eddie Aikau, Shepardson is also a lifeguard at Waimea Bay and works for the City & County of Honolulu.

Watch the Full Reply of The Eddie

What is the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational?

The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is a beloved Hawaiian tradition that honors the life and legacy of Eddie Aikau, a legendary Hawaiian lifeguard and surfer who lost his life in an open-ocean rescue attempt in 1978. The competition only takes place when the waves are big enough for Eddie – that is, when they are consistently higher than 20 feet.

This Sunday, January 22nd, the 34th annual Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational will take place at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu. This will be the first time since 2016 that the contest has taken place due to favorable wind conditions and waves expected to reach 30 feet! About forty surfers will participate in this friendly competition that aims to bring focus onto Hawaiian culture and share its stories with the world.

How to Watch the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational

If you are traveling to the Hawaiian Islands, there is no better place to experience the 34th annual Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational than at Waimea Bay. Get there early to enjoy the festive atmosphere and watch some of the world’s most talented surfers tackle monster waves!

Where to Park

If you’re heading to Waimea Bay Beach Park for The Eddie, it’s best to plan ahead. Parking is extremely limited and traffic can be heavy, so consider taking a rideshare app if possible. Paid parking is available at Waimea Valley’s Mauka and Makai parking lots, which offer secure parking and easy access to the bay.

Parking will cost $40 for front lot locations and back lot locations will be $20. Parking is limited and will accommodate first come, first served until full.

While there, don’t forget to visit Waimea Valley’s Wahi ʻᾹina Grill, Hale Kope Coffee Shop, and Bar Kikoni. There’s also a visitors center and restrooms available during the event. No matter where you park, make sure to take all of your belongings with you and not leave anything in your vehicle.

In an effort to reduce traffic on the roads, the city (Honolulu) has announced that it will be expanding its bus routes from Honolulu to Waimea Bay.

Nathan Serota, from the Department of Parks and Recreation, said: “Parking is going to be extremely limited, so to offset that, our Department of Transportation Services is offering four additional buses off to the North Shore starting at 4:30 a.m.”


For those unable to attend in person, the event will be broadcasted on ESPN2 from 8am-12pm HST (Hawaii Standard Time). You can also stream it live online via ESPN’s website or app. Surfline will also provide a live stream of all the action so you can still be part of this incredibly special event.

Alternatively, you can watch the live stream on khon2.com

No matter how you choose to watch it, make sure you don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to witness some of the world’s best big wave surfers take on massive waves at Waimea Bay.

Who Was Eddie Aikau

Eddie Aikau was an incredible Hawaiian waterman who left a lasting legacy of adventure and bravery.

Born in Oahu, Hawaii, on May 4th, 1946, to Solomon and Henrietta Aikau, Eddie grew up with seven siblings in the small beach town of Kahului.  From early childhood, Eddie had a natural affinity for the ocean and picked up surfing at the young age of 8. He quickly established himself as one of Oahu’s North Shore’s best surfers by his teenage years. Eventually, he went on to become a big wave pioneer by winning the prestigious Duke Classic Surfing Contest at Sunset Beach in 1977.

In addition to being an esteemed surfer, Eddie was also involved in preserving Hawaiian heritage by becoming a part of a crew of Hōkūleʻa, traditional Polynesian sailing canoes. To show his commitment to keeping the tradition alive, he volunteered multiple times to make these arduous voyages across oceans and seas – including one fateful voyage he would not return from.

On March 17th 1978, during Hōkūleʻa’s voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti, strong winds caused their vessel to capsize near Molokai Straits. Tragically, Eddie Aikau gave up his life that day trying to save his crew by paddling for help on his surfboard; he was never seen again despite a massive search effort launched by the U.S Navy and Coast Guard over 16 days.

His story has been told many times with books and documentaries such as ESPN’s 30-for-30 series “Hawaii: Eide Aikau” directed by Sam George (2013) inspired by Stuart Holmes Coleman’s book “Eddie Would Go: The Story of Eddie Aikau, Hawaiian Hero and Pioneer of Big Wave Surfing” (2004).

In addition, The Aikau family created the Eddie Aikau Foundation in May 2000, which celebrates the spirit of Aloha as well as Hawaiian culture and traditions symbolized by their late brother.

Eddie Would Go

The brave phrase “Eddie Would Go” is a reminder of the courage and selfless heroism of Eddie Aikau.

Eddie Aikau was truly a man of the sea with an unparalleled understanding of the ocean and its power. His mastery of Island diving and surfing traditions earned him recognition as Oahu’s first lifeguard, where he bravely saved countless swimmers from treacherous waves and waters.

Eddie Aikau’s time as a lifeguard at Waimea Bay was nothing short of extraordinary. His 500+ heroic rescues earned him the nickname “Towering Bull”, since he was able to save lives even in surf that reached heights of up to 30 feet without any modern tools or jet skis. His selfless and brave actions set him apart from all other lifeguards, inspiring the now-famous slogan “Eddie would go” as a testament to his commitment to protecting life and upholding safety standards.

To learn more about Eddie Aikau and his heroic legacy, visit https://www.theeddieaikau.com/

2022-2023 Invitees

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Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy is the owner of Hawaii’s Best Travel and is a recognized authority on responsible travel to Hawaii. Combining years of on-ground experience with insights from the top-rated podcast, Hawaii’s Best, he connects with a broad online community, offering a richer, more responsible way to experience Hawaii.