The family of Kirk Passmore, 32, posted an announcement on the Internet mourning his loss even no body has been recovered.
"The family wishes to thank the Coast Guard, the City and County of Honolulu lifeguards and Fire Department who continue the search," the notice said.
Passmore was a seasoned big-wave surfer with experience in Mexico, Hawaii and California's famed Mavericks, the family said. He relocated to the North Shore two years ago from northern San Diego County, Calif.
Witnesses told KHNL-TV, Honolulu, Passmore wiped out on a 20-foot wave at the Alligator Rock break on Wednesday and was then buried by a second wave and disappeared. His broken surf board was found on the beach.
Surfer Jamie Sterling told KHNL he suspected the initial wave had broken Passmore's ear drum, causing him to actually swim toward the bottom.
"He was seen swimming down with his feet up above the surface because what happens when you break your ear drum is you have complete loss of balance and you have vertigo," Sterling said.