Anyone remember Garbage Hole

For all the surfers of the early 60ʻs and those who heard the stories, Garbage Hole was that great wave on the west side entrance to Alamoana boat harbor that got a rock jetty rammed right down itʻs throat to form the southern tip of Magic Island at Alamo Park; this spot got itʻs name because the channel currents conspired to deposit rubbish and any floatsum and jetsum right there at the end of the wave, hence …Garbage Hole… and lemme tell ya, what an awesome wave it was; although really shallow, the right was a short,hollow barrel similiar to Kaisers but way better; and the left was longer, deeper and a really fun wave; at 2-4 ft this was a great wave to ride if you got tired of the machine perfection of Alamo; it was a little challenging to ride the rights on our crude longboards of that era but we did it; … but…when the wave grew to 4-6 and bigger, look out cause it was one mean motherf#*@er, sucking half the channel and pitching like Teahupu; the lefts were a little more forgiving but equally scarey nonetheless; when it was big we stayed away!!! But this is no shit… it was an awesome wave and now itʻs gone forever…Pau loa…how many of you lucky old surfers actually remember and surfed that spot?  Sweet wave no!!! There are larger issues to this story; we lost a great surf spot to the urban development of the growing city of Honolulu and I canʻt remember anyone trying to stop it; probably wouldnʻt happen today; too much opposition from the powerful surf community; but in the early sixties no one was there to mālama Garbage Hole and now itʻs only a memory; when I walk out to the tip of the Magic Island jetty and see what once was this great wave ,memories come flooding back about koʻu wā opio, the days of my youth, when we rode this beautiful wave…I am happy and sad at the same time…Anyone remember Garbage Hole…A hui hou…Kapalulu

Funny that you mention Garbage hole. I was relating a story in a different thread about my uncle coming over to my apt. at 1350 Ala Moana which was on the corner of Piikoi and Ala Moana.

He left Hawaii in 1938 to be a merchant marine and settled in Chula Vista. He looked out from my lanai and saw something he’d never seen before… all the the buildings and the development from that vantage point.

My Grandfather was a surveyor and draftsman for the Army Corps of Engineers and did most of the depth charts for many of the harbors and for the the coast of Waikiki.

When my dad and uncle were kids they helped him do soundings for the coast where the Ala Wai Harbor is all the way down to where the Royal is. He was telling me how the coastline was before and it was very interesting. Most of what that part of Oahu is today is was filled in. Dillingham did the Ala Moana area and where my apt was. Kaiser did hi thing where the Hilton is. Before the land went pretty much in a straight line from where the Royal is to Ala Moana. Where the Hilton’s Rainbow tower and lagoon is wasn’t there either.

The area from the mountains to the ocean from Makiki to Kapahulu has been filled in and developed. Before it was taro patches, and then rice paddies and taro patches. Much of the southern coastline had fishponds at the mouths of the streams. Only one, the fishpond off Kuliouou is still somewhat intact. When I was a kid, Hawai Kai was still Kuapa Pond.

We lost a lot of things when they developed our island, but we gained several surf spots. Bowls and Kaisers both gained something from the dredging of boat channels.

my next door neighbor mike was a local at garbage hole up until what he calls "tragic island" was built. i think he was drafted for vietman about that time too...

the destruction of Garbage Hole was sort of the reverse of the making of Sebastian Inlet, with the adding of each boulder Garbage went away and with Sebastian, a non wave slowly grew into what it was before F-ing with again a few years ago and leaving it a shadow of what it was.

I never surfed garbage, I was still a kook when it was disappearing and would have gotten my ass handed to me going over the falls onto shallow reef. By the time I was getting good enough to not get killed on every wave, I had graduated to Kaisers Bowl, I surfed it a few years ago and it seemed to have also changed from the wave of the 60’s, more peaks and not as hollow, but I could have gotten it on an off swell and tide


In my opinion, the reason that Kaisers seemed different to you was not the swell direction or the tides. The last two major hurriceane swells, from Iniki and Iwa seemed to have affected the reef at more than one of the Oahu South Shore surf spots. During my last few surf visits to Honolulu, Queen’s, Popular’s, Kaisers, and Paradise were definitely different from my small kid days. 3’s seems to be about the only one in that area that is relatively unchanged. Friends from those days have made the same observations, so I do not think that the changes are in my imagination. Many hours of my mis-spent youth were invested at these spots.

I vaguely remember as a young kid before I started surfing, swimming at the park before Magic Island was developed. I think there was a small groin of sorts where one year they let out those lantern boats to remember those who have passed on.  I do remember seeing Wayne Miyata getting quite deep in the tube in the "Endless Summer" at Garbage Hole.  I think there was some footage of Chubby Mitchell surfing there too in one of those short 8mm films you could order from Surfer Magazine in the 60s.  Hope we don't lose any more spots like we did back then.

That comment about Wayne Miyata was so on; he was probably one of the only people to be featured at GH; I can barely remember the footage but I think it was 3ft and crispy; there were a few things that changed after the city built Magic Island; the 1st thing was that on big days at Alamo, if you lost your board [pre leash, pre Magic Isle] and werenʻt a fast swimmer or didnʻt know the drill, your board sometimes drifted across the channel and on down in front of Alamo Park; man… swimming across that channel was some scarey-ass shit for us young groms; we were praying that uncle Manō was off somewhere else doing his thing; and then it was some long-ass paddle back out when you finally got your board; but that kept the lineup fairly uncrowded; all that ended with the new jetty and leashes; the 2nd noticeable thing was the refraction from the jetty on the inside bowl; pre jetty the inside bowl was a really fun wave that had a gentle wrap coming from the channel; post jetty that wrap was intensified by the refraction and caused a sometimes unwanted wave coming right at you; it wasnʻt that bad but it did alter the wave somewhat; actually what was even more annoying was when big boats chugged in or out the channel right before a good set and sent wakes across the lineup; on pole set days it was a heart pump negotiating wake chop at the bowl; many a horrendous wipeout was witnessed; and on big days no one even considered Garbage Hole; it was too much like Teahupu and back then no one was into slabs and dying; no glory in that!!!; today it would be completly different; people could stake their careers riding big GH rights it was that radicle; the army corps giveth and the army corps taketh away; aloha nō o ka lua ʻōpala…{Garbage Hole]…Kapalulu

Shark Country–I worked on 1350 Al Moana, helped build it–Worked for Dillingham–Poured 30000 sq. ft. a week, with the floors being jacked up 9 stories down , to allow the other pours to cure–Many more stories–That was when the shops around there were lost–Had a furniture shop behind , before they evicted us–Mac

Alamoana–You are totally on it–When we were in High School, the Ala Moana scene was totally dominated by the “Crew”–Good luck trying to get a good wave, with all of the great surfers out there–When Ala Mo was small (under 5 feet),  we would paddle across the Channel , to Garbage Hole–Me,  Ricky Ferris, Alan McWayne etc, , and a few others–Had a great time, and no one out–The whole focus was on Ala Mo–Alan and I were surfing the whole time when they were dropping the rocks into the inside of Garbage Hole, filling it up with Magic Island–One Saturday, the cranes were up so close , that we could see the operators–A group of Japanese and Haole  Lunas came down and were standing on the cliff–Alan lost his board, and I went in to find it–Remember how shallow it was??   We called it “Butterfly Swim”–All you heard was the "Boink, boink, boink, as your board was drifting in with the whitewater, fins or noses or tailblocks taking the punishment.  I couldn’t find his board–I was paddling and drifting , fin up, looking… all of a sudden, the crane operator hits his horn–He stands up on his Crane, and points into a little puka in between  the boulders–He yells that when I get the board, we have to get out of there, because his Lunas were going to shut it all down, RIGHT NOW!!  I put the nose of his board under my right big toe, started paddling out, and almost shit, when I heard this huge THUMP, and the water splashed over my back,as one of the last rocks smothered Garbage Hole–The Crane operator told us we were the last guys , but I have no way to verify that–As far as size–I stood on the last breakwater, at that time (Fuel Dock, back then)–We  watched Hemmings, Cabel, and Strauh ride Garbage Hole at least 10-12’ feet  _Never saw it that big again, and the Channel wasn’t closing out, which was weird–Swell direction I guess…Surfed Ala Mo several times in Kona condtions, with the Ala Wai pouring out brown water–Loose your board, and you would have to swim to the fuel docks–I must have  seen you out there–Mac

E Macpac, GH was such a sweet wave and you guys were the the last ones to ride it; them was the days eh!!! To add to the destruction of GH was the construction of the Ilikai Hotel; for 2 years every day was heard the “chuk-paw” of the pile drivers sinking the foundation pilings; yep, the “crew” ruled the parking lot and the lineup at Alamo; Donald was the king  and Boogie was the enforcer; Alamo and GH were home to some of the best and stylish surfers of the era; only good memories I get…a hui hou…Kapalulu

correct me if i am wrong but arent both waves man made anyways (byproduct of the reef getting cut out for the boat channel?) they giveth and they taketh away..........

GH was probably firing when this shot of “The King” was taken in ʻ61; check out the beloved POLE, something that is no more but in itʻs day defined the spot; this looks to be an afternoon foto on a 2-5 ft day with those tradewinds we all loved  with Donald driving from the middle  all the way through the inside;  I love this foto; a typical fun day at  Alamo…a hui hou…Kapalulu


I always loved that photo of Bird Nest… 

The “Pole” brings back some great memories. Even though my surfing tended to be a bit more Diamond Head of the Bowl, I did sneak in there for a session or two. I definitely remember the swell that spelled the end for the Pole. It was in the early 1970’s, just not sure which year for sure, though I think it was 1971. Surfed a great South at 3’s and cruised by Magic Island to watch the action on the way home. Decided that I should check it first thing in the morning and as I was starting to paddle out,  a friend told me to look, “No more da Pole” he shouted. He was right. Still miss that darn “Pole”.

When this foto was taken [if the date is true, which I doubt] I was feeling pretty comfortable at the “Mo”; it was our home break and we regularly surfed GH when we got bored or needed an adrenalin  rush on those shallow rights; but we all had a love /fear relationship with that POLE; it was ever present like an old friend on smaller days but resembled some wicked, scarey , ocean beast up close when jockying for position on “pole sets”, water engulfing, then flooding off the pole as the wave passed, sucking and churning; bra…you had to be playing your A game when pole sets came through; these were the most macking that Alamoana could handle and often times feathered in the channel; close proximity to the pole was some scarey shit for a 16 year old grom; but  Donald, Sammy Lee, Conrad, Jose Angel and some older guys would eat this action up and would get unbelievable rides to the screams and cheers of bros paddling out and the peanut gallery populating the parking lot…high times for all and a good excuse to party…

e ka manu kapalulu,pehea 'oe i keia la? how did those alamoana waves back in the day compare to ma’alaea? i don’t think i have ever seen a faster wave than freight trains,but looks like alamoana more makeable all the way,ea?

If I remember correctly, there was a picture of someone, who on a big day, was able to stand on top of the pole when a big set came through–Maybe it was just a story, or maybe it was in an old film, but I still seem to think it happened.  Maybe just “makule-kine”…  Anybody ever hear or see anything about that?

  I have seen Ma’alaea good only a few times, due to not growing up on Maui.  The best I have seen it was on smaller days, (Under 6’), but man–What a wave when it is on.  We have had discussions about whether or not Ala Mo changed after the last dock went in, at the Yacht Harbor (More reflection on the sets pushing water into the Ala Wai), and also whether the extension of Magic Island, that took out Garbage Hole, also had an effect on the wave at Ala Mo.  I really think it did–I have watched a lot of big days, before and after these events.  I seem to  remember that it used to be much more rideable from Middles, all the way through on larger days (i.e., the Gene Harris sequence, mentioned earlier).   Now, with size,  it seems like the Bowl gets really pronounced much more quickly, and is not as long. I do know that swell direction has a lot to due with it, but not  all the time.    Since most of the surfers riding now, never had a chance to surf it back in the earlier days, do any of you , that did, and still surf it, notice any changes?  I haven’t ridden there for years, due to the  crowds, and my age,  but I have watched it a lot…Thanks for any input… 

Man–Does that bring back some memories!! The “Ssss Ka Chunk”  of the pile drivers went on for years, it seemed–Remember paddling under the dredge pipe, when they were doing the last docks at Ala Wai Harbor??  My back got scraped a couple of times , at high tide, when you didn’t time the small waves right. How many years did the Reef Hotel  sit there, just a  rusting skeleton, all leaning over, when the piles on one side of the building started to list?  The good surfers at Ala Mo really helped us out at Poplars and 3’s , cause it took the heat off of those spots for a while…BTW  –Ever get any of the rare days at Paradise, when the lefts stayed open , with out sections?  Now that was another good wave…


Though I do not remember any picture evidence of people standing on the pole, I did see it happen on more than one occasion. Personally, I prefered to give the Pole some distance. Maybe scoldings from my Dad to stay away from the damn thing made it kapu.


Yes, Ala Mo did tend to keep the crowd away from Pop’s and 3’s back in the day. On occasion one of the Bowl’s regulars would come down to 3’s when it was super excellent. One day Lopez actually was out at 3’s and one of the 3’s regular’s told me to tell him to go back up to Ala Moana. Needless to say, I did not tell Gerry that, as if he would have listened to me anyway ;-). If I remember correctly, it was pretty crowded at 3’s that day, with a real crowd of 15 to 20 people out there. These day’s, on a good South, there are more people out there before the sun comes up.

I like Paradise. Always a good option when Pop’s and 3’s are packed. Particularly on a south with a lot of west in the direction, can stay open all the way to the end of the left at Pop’s. Used to see Johnny Boy out there teaching lessons.