WAILUKU - The National Weather Service continued its high-surf warnings for Maui's north and west shores through 6 a.m. today.
The warning indicates that "dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline," according to forecasters.
And waves reportedly reached heights of up to 35 feet on Maui's north shore Wednesday.
A surfer emerges from a tube on a wave as Honolua Bay lived up to its reputation Wednesday as one of the top rides in the surfing world when a strong northwest swell sent set after set of large waves through the west-side break. The National Weather Service continued a high-surf warning for the north- and west-facing shores of Maui and Molokai until 6 a.m. today. The notice is expected to downgrade to a high-surf advisory through 6 a.m. Friday.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
No injuries were reported, in or out of the ocean, county emergency officials said. And the high waters and waves hadn't caused any significant damage, erosion or flooding as of Wednesday afternoon.
National Weather Service senior meteorologist Tim Craig said he expected the waves to fall to an advisory level later today. Some northerly waves could still be up to 15 feet, he said.
This week, the big waves were expected to keep sending surfers, fans and nature lovers out to the north shore's hot surfing spots. Loads of cars, many with surfboards on their rooftops, could be seen headed from other parts of the island toward Paia along Hana Highway.
Some north-shore business owners and managers have said it's already a good holiday travel season, and the waves were attracting customers as well.
Surfer Rudy Law was the only one to brave the punishing and chaotic waves as high as 10 feet around noon at Paukukalo off Waiehu Beach Road.
He said he decided to get at least some surfing in there after seeing "choke cars at Jaws, hundreds of them" and lines of cars crawling past Hookipa, trying to get in.
"It's going off at Jaws," Law said of the big wave mecca in Peahi.
Some other folks just sat in their cars or work trucks and stayed out of the mist as they ate plate lunches and watched the water smack Kahului Harbor.
The waves were expected to reach their peak about midday Wednesday, Craig said.
County ocean safety officers reported that waves were 20 to 35 feet at Baldwin, 20 to 25 feet at Hookipa and 12 to 14 feet at Kanaha beach parks, he said. Waves reaching other parts of the island, including to the west and south, were reportedly only a foot high or less, Craig said.
Despite its north-shore location at Paukukalo, Law said the chop there was caused by onshore winds hitting the water and making it "pretty junk, so nobody wants to surf here." But he said he heard there were some great surfing "nuggets," aside from Hookipa and Jaws, here and there around the island.
While the weather forecasters had warned of possible erosion and coastal damage by the wave action, county spokesman Rod Antone and Fire Department spokesman Lee Mainaga said they hadn't heard of any problems caused by the waves.
Civil Defense Agency emergency management officer Anna Foust concurred, but with a caveat.
"Safety is always our number-one concern," she said. "We warn people who have no business being in the water, respectfully, to stay away from the water. You don't want to put yourself or someone else in danger if they have to come in and save you."
It's big surf, Foust said. It's "pretty awesome to see, but you should stay a good distance from it if you do."
Weather broadcasts can be heard by calling (866) 944-5025, or go online to www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.
* Chris Hamilton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.