Surfing Experience and Lifestyle
Surfing is not just a sport, but also a way of life, with a wordless philosophy communicated effortlessly through photographs that inspire many people who have never even touched a surfboard.
Surfers live with the ocean, rising and falling with its waves. Their naturally photogenic lives are enriched not only by the healthy exercise of life at the beach, but also by the intercultural experiences that come with traveling around the world to find the best breaks.
In my early twenties, while working as an assistant chef, I began to look for ways to bring the surfing lifestyle into my work. Surfing was my favorite activity; that was what I did before and after work, and on my days off.
So I asked myself: Could I find work at the beach, or in the surf, and get paid for being in my chosen element?
Sadly, I was not good enough at surfing to be a professional surfer, but I had developed a personal philosophy of doing what I love, and loving what I do – and surfing was clearly what I loved to do.
I asked around at the five-star hotel where I’d been working, and sure enough, I was able to transfer to a new position at the same hotel, working with the beach and pool department as a lifeguard. From that day forward, my life changed.
I was getting paid to train as a lifeguard and swim on the beach every day, and encouraged to have fun surfing on my breaks.
Do what you love, and love what you do. Great advice!
After working on the beach and making ocean rescues for about three years, I applied for a full-time job as a Hawaii County Lifeguard. In 1992, I was offered an opportunity to attend lifeguard training at Huntington Beach, California, and soon become a certified California State Lifeguard, stationed at San Clemente, Orange Coast District.
Once I started college in 1994 and learned that I could study abroad in wave-rich countries like South Africa, Spain, and Taiwan, the idea of combining work, study and other life pursuits with surfing opened up a world of possibilities.
In 1998, after good day of surfing in Tel-Aviv, Israel, I made the decision to return home to Hawaii and start a surfing school. Based on my experience in lifeguarding, I named the school "Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors" (HLSI), and set up shop at a beach house near Kahaluu Beach Park in Kailua-Kona (see photos below).
The more I had traveled, surfed, and learned about the environmental issues at surf sites and other coastal areas, the more I was moved study the social, economic and environmental significance of surfing. After my MBA, I chose to do a PhD in Environmental Management, dedicating three years of my life to researching surf site sustainability and developing the Surf Resource Sustainability Index (SRSI).
Currently, I am still surfing and sharing the surfing stoke with my students in Environmental Studies at Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand.