Activist Spotlight
January 05 2016

Peter Cole: Keeping Country Country

by Nancy Eiring

Peter Cole is one of the key players behind the North Shore of Oahu's resiliency. A Waimea surf pioneer and founder of the Surfrider Foundation Oahu Chapter, he organized his community against a large-scale development project just above the famed wave at Pipeline, that would have ruined the rustic feel of Oahu’s North Shore and negatively impacted the area’s idyllic beaches and surf breaks. For almost 20 years, the campaign went through a series of wins and losses. Yet, “endless pressure, constantly applied” finally won out and the State purchased the land in question and turned it into a preserve. Peter exemplifies the staying power, focus and multi-generational view required for long-term success to see victories for our ocean, waves and beaches.

Q: When and why did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?

I got involved with the North Shore chapter in 1988 and stayed with this chapter until it terminated in 1993.  We  devoted most of our time opposing the Obayashi project in Pupukea-Paumalu in the hills above Sunset Beach.

In late May of 1995 we started the Oahu chapter which is still active today.  I was chairman of this chapter until 2007 except for a short time in the late nineties when Doug Rodman was the chair.  I have spent my entire life enjoying the ocean and its recreational activities, and I felt that it was time I gave back to preserving the ocean and beaches that I love.

Q: What issues are you most passionate about in your community?

Preserving our North Shore surf sites and the adjoining beaches. Opposing any developments or projects that would significantly degrade what we cherish about the North Shore. Vigorously assuring that we have adequate public access to our beaches around Oahu’s coast.

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?

The acquiring of the conservation easements for both Pupukea-Paumalu from Obayashi (i.e., ending the Obayashi LihiLani development) and Kawela Bay plus the coast line to Kahuku Point north of the Turtle Bay Hotel from Turtle Bay Resorts.

Preserving the Mauka Parkland across from Haleiwa Beach Park that Andy Anderson was trying to develop into a hotel resort.

Working with the Honolulu Parks and Recreation Department to implement certain restrictions associated with the many surf contests that saturate our North Shore during the winter surf season.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?

If you enjoy surfing, diving, wind and kite surfing, swimming, stand-up paddling and surfing and the adjoining beaches, then give back to what you love by joining Surfrider and preserving the environment associated with your favorite recreational activity.

Q: Where is your favorite beach and why?

Sunset Beach surfing area because it has the best medium to large size surf in the world from my perspective.  The beach fronting the lineup has become a beautiful park for all to enjoy.  Sunset represents everything I like most about surfing and the ocean’s dynamics.