March 4th, 2014 | By | 286 Comments

Surf & Stay on the North Shore For $20/Day How to Charge Hawaii Without Over-Charging Your Credit Card

Nate Zoller left SWELL last year in search of the wave of his life, and he found it. He also learned a few tips to live the dream on a shoestring budget. Here’s how he swings it for $20/day.

I have been traveling to the Hawaiian Islands since I was fifteen and am now in my tenth season. I love it; the rush of an incoming swell, the theater like atmosphere of watching Pipeline from the shore (or channel), the daily run-in with a surfing legend, hitchhiking and living off of peanut butter and banana sandwiches for as long as you can.

Photos: Isaac Zoller. Boards: Hayden. Apparel: Roark

1. Clean house in exchange for place to crash + $10 (each)

This season, as in seasons past, my brother Isaac and I stayed at the Jones family house on Rocky Right’s.  Some people camp on farms/communes, stuff into over packed houses rentals, sleep on beaches, whatever, just to be able to wake up in surfing’s Mecca.


3. Hitchhike $free
4. Eat Bananas off Trees $free (just don’t get caught)

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5. Half order BBQ Chicken plate lunch at Ted’s Bakery $7
6. 36 pack of beer from Costco $20 (a weeks worth for $1/day split 3 ways)
7. Go surfing $free + $1 for Wax


And after years of wanting a Second Reef Pipeline roll-in wave I finally made a move.One stormy late January morning I grabbed my 7’0” Christenson gun, paddled out through the heavy Ehukai shorebreak, and picked off just the wave I had dreamed of. It was a solid roll-in double up to successful tube shot that made for the best ride of my life in Hawaii.

This Wave of Nate’s Earned him 2nd place in Surfline’s Wave on the Winter voting. Congrats Nate Dog!

8. Backyard Haircuts $0photo-3 copy

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The North Shore of Oahu and its seven miles of world-class coastline act as surfing’s gladiator pit from October to March every year. Waves like Pipeline, Sunset Beach and Waimea Bay detonate onto cement style coral reefs, giving the place a “death or glory” atmosphere.  This season reminded me why I make the effort to return each year. Because the North Shore is not just a surf trip for people that want to surf, it’s a place where people come to catch the best wave of their life. It might take you a decade to achieve, but a wise man once said nothing worth having comes easy.


Nate is currently the pride of our hometown of Laguna Beach for his hard charging anticsphoto copy 7Pinching pennies is crutial when you’re snapping new Hayden Shapes like Nate

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