Maui Surf

Good Waves, Brown Water

February 25, 2013, 5:02 PM HST
* Updated February 25, 5:05 PM
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By Carlos Rock

Ho’okipa looking nice and brown. Photo: Carlos Rock.

There was a good size east swell on hand over the weekend and the brown “chocolate milk” water kept the crowds down.

The waves at Ho’okipa in particular were really good with the east swell, and there was no one out – for good reason.

The dirty water results from run off from the rivers and all the rain accumulation from Upcountry, Haiku, and Hana. The rivers eventually empty out into the sea and the currents sweep it across the north shore. The brown water is a hot spot for sharks who prefer to hunt in the murk, and may also contain nasty bacteria.

There were no reports of shark attacks over the weekend so it sounds like everyone stayed safe if they ventured into the brown water. But, not being able to see your feet as they hang beneath the water and not being able to see the bottom does play tricks on your mind.


If you go into the dirty water with open cuts after it rains, make sure to properly and thoroughly clean out the cuts after you surf with hydrogen peroxide or really scrub it out with soap and water.


For those that braved the dirty water, they were greeted with great waves, and barely anyone out in the water.

Northwest swell this weekend could light up Honolua Bay. Photo: Carlos Rock.

3-foot Hawaiian (6-foot faces) and brown, just don’t swallow the water. Surfers were complaining about the water being “itchy” and hoping they didn’t “get an ear infection” among other complaints.

Also, the rain squalls kept the wind light, which would’ve made for all-time conditions, if the water was blue.


It was a little strange to see perfect brown waves going off with no one out. Hopefully the rains calm down and the water returns to normal within a few days before a new swell arrives.

The swell forecast during this work week is looking pretty average with a 3 to 7-foot NW swell, but there is a fairly large 10 to 18+foot WNW coming in on Thursday, and a 8-12 ft+ NW for Friday.

Hopefully the swell hangs around for the weekend, or a new swell will come in for those surfers that have to work during the week.

For now, just wait until the brown water settles and the blue water returns.

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