Outside Log Cabins


Majestic but inconsistent big-wave break located on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, between Waimea Bay and Pipeline. Outside Log Cabins is the site of one of the biggest waves ever surfed, a 40- or 45-footer (about 60 or 70 feet from trough to crest) ridden by Hawaiian big-wave veteran Ken Bradshaw in 1998.

A right-breaking wave, Outside Log Cabins—also known as Outer Logs—forms over a reef located three-quarters of a mile offshore. It requires a huge North Pacific winter swell, doesn't begin to take shape until the waves are nearly 20 feet, and might come into full-blown form just two or three times a decade. Shiftier and more lined up than the waves found at Jaws on Maui, Log Cabins can produce rides of more than 400 yards, with the curl often pitching out to form monolithic tube sections.

Big-wave zealot Jose Angel built a house in front of Log Cabins in the early '70s, choosing the location in part so that he could study the break and see if it could be ridden. He never tried. In early December 1986, with a 25-foot swell running, Bradshaw and local surfer Trevor Sifon became the first to surf Outer Logs, each paddling into a 20-foot wave before getting caught inside and washed ashore by a 30-foot set. "It's probably the ultimate big wave," surf journalist Leonard Brady wrote of Log Cabins two years later, adding that the break probably wasn't ridable "using standard paddling take-offs." Fewer than a half-dozen attempts were made on Outer Logs over the next nine years.

In the early '90s, a small group of big-wave surfers did in fact discard the paddling takeoff and towed each other in to huge waves from behind jetskies; on January 28, 1998, with Outer Logs producing what many were calling the best big surf of the decade, it was ridden by tow-in surfers only. Bradshaw caught his enormous wave at about 10:00 A.M.; six other tow-in teams rode throughout the day. Video footage from January 28 was used in The Moment (1998), Biggest Wednesday (1998), and other surf videos; 70-millimeter film shot from a helicopter was used to create a breathtaking 10-minute sequence for Extreme, a 1999 IMAX movie.