Surf culture is at the core of what makes Waikiki Beach so special. Our Surfers In Residence program features professional surfers and their families who "talk story" with guests, led by our hosts Tammy Moniz of Faith Surf School and Marco Olivari.
Surfers In Residence
Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort
Outrigger’s Surfers in Residence
Having won 15 championship titles in bodysurfing, Mark isn't your average retiree.
Learn more >>
When it comes to Hawaiian culture, Duane embodies some of the most beautiful tenets.
Learn more >>
Icon and surf trailblazer, Shane is a legend for the sport, culture and the next generation.
Learn more >>
Local lifeguard turned “Super Bowl of Surfing” champion beating the best surfers in the world.
Learn more >>
The first woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal in surfing got her start on Waikiki Beach.
Learn more >>
Travis & Alex Smith
Travis and Alex Smith professionally surf and now run a thriving business together with brother Koa.
Learn more >>
With nearly every major surf record, Kelly Slater is a legend both on and off the waves.
Learn more >>
Michael Ho & Tony Moniz
Hear from two surf legends and how they both got their start in surfing on Waikiki Beach.
Learn more >>
Every generation seems to have one surfing star who makes the crossover to Hollywood.
Learn more >>
This two-time longboard champ has surfed for almost as long as she's been able to walk.
Learn more >>
Travis and Alex Smith professional surf and now run a thriving business together with brother Koa.
Learn more >>
Surfers in Residence
About Mark Cunningham – Outrigger Surfer in Residence
Mark Cunningham’s not your average retiree. He recently spent some time at Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, enjoying the sand and calm surf of Waikiki Beach.
This lifelong lifeguard hung up his rescue buoy back in 2005, closing a 30-year tenure patrolling O’ahu's shores — including Ehukai Beach Park, home to one of the most dangerous surf spots in the world, the Banzai Pipeline.
That same year he won the International Bodysurfing Competition in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. The event was just
one of 15 championship titles he’d earn during his side-hustle as one of the world’s top bodysurfers.
Yet well-known for his modesty, Cunningham describes his command of the waves as just another resume skill essential to saving lives. Still, his ascent through the surfing world is the stuff of legends. That’s because while comfortably seated among the ranks of surfing greats, Cunningham occupies a unique space. His waterman roots were crafted, honed, and mastered all without a board.
The Rise of O'ahu's Saltiest Icon
It all started in his teenage years growing up in Niu Valley. Standing at a lanky six-foot-four-inches following a rapid growth spurt, Cunningham often recalls these early board-surfing days as his “comedy routine.
That’s when he discovered bodysurfing. Armed with nothing but a pair of fins, bodysurfing didn’t just ease Cunningham’s comfort on the water. It complemented his awe and respect for the ocean, allowing him to strike synchronicity with the waves — not supremacy over them.
This reverent ethos resonates throughout Cunningham’s career dominating O’ahu’s most epic surfing spots: Sandy Beach, Point Panic, Makapuu, and of course, Pipeline. While he might challenge his reputation as the greatest bodysurfer of the modern era — he’s insisted that title goes to Mike Stewart — no one can argue with Cunningham’s mālama for the sea. Between saving lives and mentoring new generations of North Shore surfers, he also founded the O’ahu Junior Lifeguard Program and helped launch the Defend O’ahu Coalition. Whether at work or play, Cunningham lives through this mālama spirit of celebrating, championing, and protecting his oceanic playground.
From the Surf to the Studio
Cunningham's more recent adventures-at-sea illustrate this deep-rooted passion — literally. He now hunts for what lies beneath the waves, searching the surf for lost treasures like board fins, sunglasses, and even designer watches. Cunningham stores this menagerie of long-forgotten items at his garage-turned-art studio in Kāhala, where he assembles them into three-dimensional sculptures. Through his art, he seeks out each object’s hidden story and honors how they’ve been shaped by the passage of time.
But just like his surfing glory, Cunningham is reluctant to claim a title as an artist. “Mother Nature is the real artist,” he tells Flux Hawaii Magazine. “I’m just putting it all together for everyone to see.
Gallery owners, critics, and art lovers seem to disagree. Cunningham’s sculptures have been on display in galleries from New York to San Francisco and even featured on the TV series Hawaii Five-O.
Getting Stoked in Waikiki
What’s up next for Mark Cunningham? We're beyond proud to invite this local surfing legend-cum-artist to join our Surfers in Residence program. As the birthplace of modern surfing, there’s no better spot for Cunningham to share his deep love for the sea with wave-chasing travelers from around the world than Waikiki Beach.
Why is Waikiki so special?
About Kelly Slater – Outrigger Surfer in Residence
Into the Outerknown
With nearly every major surf record—including an unprecedented 11 world titles, 55 career victories and both the youngest and oldest World Champion in men’s history—Kelly Slater is a legend on the waves. And he's a force to be reckoned with out of the water, too.
Legend in her own right (and part of one of the most prolific surf families in the world) Tammy Moniz sat down with the pro surfer, entrepreneur, and sometimes actor at Outrigger Waikiki for our Surfers in Residence series to chat sustainable fashion, why he loves Waikiki, and the "irreplaceable euphoria" of surfing.
First up in their surfer-life convo: the oh-so-perfect barrels at Oahu’s Pipeline. While he's surfed the world's best—and most dangerous—waves, it's the North Shore’s ‘granddaddy of all waves’ that takes the top on Slater's best-of surf list. “Pipeline’s our mecca, for all surfers. There’s always the Teahupo'o, the Mentawai Islands, the point breaks in Australia, or some big wave like Nazaré or Jaws, but [Pipeline] is sort of the ultimate challenge because you can still ride deep in a barrel in a way that can kill you—and so it’s sort of this, like, perfect blend of fun and fear,” he said.
A favorite between-tour surf spot? Pipeline's more laid-back little sister, Waikiki. “To me [Waikiki] is the birthplace of surfing. Although Pipeline’s like our mecca, what would you call this? I don’t know—the Jerusalem for surfers?" Slater said. The birthplace of modern surfing, Waikiki and its famed Diamond Head is often the image you think of with the earliest depictions of surfing by the Hawaiian kings, and a burgeoning new pastime yet to take over the world. "It’s visually such an incredible place,” said Slater. “You could never mistake it for somewhere else."
Slater's passion for the water translates to a love of protecting it, too. “I was sponsored for 30 years by clothing companies and made my living from that, and started to realize I didn't know much about the whole process: the supply chain, who’s making the clothes, the factories we use, where the textiles come from, the effect on the environment," said Slater. When he learned about the football fields of fashion waste going into landfills every minute, Slater teamed up with creative director John Moore to create a new kind of lifestyle brand, Outerknown. It's mission: to honor people and planet. “It’s funny because I’m not crazy passionate about clothing. I don’t care, I just wear a t-shirt and shorts … and I don’t even have slippers today ...” he said, laughing. “But I’m passionate about the industry and about the process.” Today, the six-year-old Outerknown is revolutionizing the space with key innovations, from full lifecycle transparency of each item and fair labor practices to sweats made from sustainably harvested wood pulp and organic S.E.A. denim. "The world doesn’t necessarily need another clothing company. But if the clothing company does it better and takes some of that pie away from other ones [that aren’t sustainable], then yeah I think that’s probably a good thing," he said.
The Mecca for Surfers
Slater’s next innovation: what are widely touted as the best artificial waves in the world. By working with top wave scientists at USC, Slater was able to craft, well, the perfect wave. In the middle of the California desert. “It was sort of a Good Will Hunting moment where there’s the equation on the chalkboard and somebody’s gotta figure it out, and these guys figured it out for us," Slater said of the team’s work bringing his vision to life. “It was really cool.” The result is the now solar-powered Surf Ranch, a wave park in Lemoore, California. And a second waves-in-the-desert Kelly Slater Wave Co. project is coming soon: a 20-acre resort and mother-nature-rivaling wave basin in the Coachella Valley set to open in 2022.
Getting Barreled at Surf Ranch
Slater (and Moniz's husband, former pro surfer Tony Moniz) are part of what’s been dubbed “The Momentum Generation,” a crew of surfers that came up in the early ‘90s featured in a Taylor Steele documentary called Momentum (and that inspired a 2018 HBO documentary). This group of lifelong surf friends ushered in a whole new era of big-wave surfing—and took the sport to competitive new heights. And for Slater, his drive to make an impact—and ability to transform everything he touches—don't show any signs of stopping. Check out more of our Surfers in Residence chats with pro surfers, and come mingle with the pros in person by booking a stay with us soon. Aloha!
The Momentum Generation
“Pipeline is our Mecca”
What does surfing mean to you?
About Kelia Moniz – Outrigger Surfer in Residence
Two-time longboard champ Kelia Moniz has been hitting the waves for almost as long as she's been able to walk. And with a humble confidence and cool playfulness, she's become a local icon off of the water, too. As part of our Surfer in Residence series, we're highlighting some of our favorite Kelia moments (hint: all of them!).
Raised on the shores of Waikiki, Kelia and her four brothers (who she affectionately and protectively calls her "boys") were all in the ocean before they learned to walk. From
Surfing's Biggest Lesson
homeschooling to nonstop surfing (and a brief stint as a cheerleader), Kelia loved every minute of growing up on Waikiki Beach. "I'm so proud to be from Waikiki. I'm so proud to be a surfer, to be part of my family, and to be on my mom's talk show today (I'm calling it her talk show cuz I think it's funny)," Kelia says with a laugh in her latest Surfers in Residence interview. Kelia's pro-surfer dad Tony and surf-culture icon mom Tammy (who spearheads our Surfers in Residence interviews with the who's-who of the surf set) are founders of the Faith Surf School. "We'd get to the beach around 7 AM, set up our pop-up tent. My mom would teach us school under the tent on the beach in Waikiki. My dad would do surf lessons, and now we have a wonderful location at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach—and we're all professional surfers so it worked out really well," Kelia shared with her mom in their prior Surfers in Residence chat.
Known for her grace and agility on the longboard and some killer cross-stepping-to-the-nose moves, Kelia is renowned as much for her beauty and style off the board as she is on. She was first sponsored by Billabong and then later, by Roxy. "[Becoming a Roxy Girl] was a dream of mine since I was a little girl," says Kelia. "I've gained my best friends from the brand. Literally traveled the world, and not only surfed—but gained a family." "I'm just proud to be part of a brand the supports females—even before it was a trend," she shares.
One of Kelia's favorite non-surf spots? Duke's at Outrigger Waikiki. "I eat there probably four times a week," she says. "And I'm not a tourist, I'm obviously a local. I love the hospitality there ... you kind of have this feel of real authentic Hawaii there, and the employees make you feel at home. And we have staycations [at Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort] all the time. We love it."
Her menu faves go beyond the iconic Hula Pie:
• Duke's Mai Tai: "Duke's are the best."
• Duke's Coconut Mojito: Blended "minty-coconutty milkshake" goodness.
• Duke's Salad Bar: "Hands-down best Salad Bar ever."
• Kalua Pork Nachos: "It's divine."
With the rising popularity of surf—and the exciting recent Olympics win—Hawaii is only growing as a hotspot surfing destination, especially for new surfers. And Kelia has some wave-inspired wisdom to share. "The most important thing is to be humble," Kelia shares. "And to talk to the locals." When her mom asks her what is the most valuable thing she's learned from surfing, Kelia shows her love and honor for the sport that has become her life. "One major thing I've learned, and I think this goes across the board for life generally, is having respect for people around you, but also having respect for people older than you ...," she says. "It goes really far when you have this posture of respect, not for something like for a wave or for money or for things—but having just a humble approach to anything, any room you enter in life. It is very beneficial, and I think that is something I've learned from the ocean that I've taken into my professional life." Hang Ten in the Heart of Waikiki Yourself! Follow in Kelia's in-the-know footsteps and come hang with us at Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort to surf (and shop) like a local, enjoy authentic food, and check out new surf-art culture with the latest exhibits from award-winning artist Eduardo Bolioli and a new permanent art experience, ‘Love & Aloha: Surfing in Waikīkī.
Coconut Mojitos and Kalua Nachos
All in the Family
About Duane Desoto – Outrigger Surfer in Residence
When it comes to Hawaiian culture, surf legend Duane DeSoto embodies some of the most beautiful tenets—and he's made it his mission to spread them to the next generation. Tammy Moniz sat down with the Waterman Hall of Famer, father of eight, and soon-to-be documentary star to talk surf and beyond.
Duane grew up on Makaha Beach with some of the biggest waves in the world—like Greg Noll’s famous 40- to 50-foot swell ride in 1969—and into a neighborhood of surf and culture that is like no other on the islands. "Makaha has so many different meanings to different people here in Hawaii, being the west side ..." says Duane. "I was surrounded by so many incredible water people and people in general that came out of Makaha. Maybe we didn’t have a lot of money, but we were blessed with so much other than money—and that those blessings could be a part of re-looking at the world and appreciating things in a different way.”
Duane embodies a humility and respect for the land (and water) that stems from this heritage of traditions being passed down through the generations. And this is, like surfing itself, rippling well beyond his Makaha homeland. "It's profound when you think about it: to have a sport that comes from our kupuna (ancestors), and all of a sudden that enjoyment and athleticism really rippled throughout the entire world, and I have the beautiful opportunity to share with my eight children and with my grandson. And that's amazing."
When asked about what kuleana, the Hawaiian concept loosely translated as "responsibility," means to him, Duane's passion for giving back shines through. "For me, kuleana is the privilege to carry on responsibilities that have presented themselves and that have also been handed down to me,” he shares. And that has translated to his love for the environment, too. "Even as a surfer, my perspective of that kuleana toward the environment was also shaped in a certain way that I had more to learn and be open to it and understanding the vast amount of ways that we as human beings should be better,” says Duane. “Our kupuna all taught us that, our kupuna lived in that. So the sustainability and all of the word phrasing and the hashtagging now is only going back to traditions that were normal for most indigenous peoples.”
For Duane, the art of surf and the love of family go hand-in-hand. "The most treasured family time that we have every year is when our family comes together at the Buffalo Big Board Contest in Makaha," he shares. "It's almost like a natural setting as a reunion for all of us … and it's kind of that representation of that community we live in, that family."
Duane has five daughters and three sons (and a grandson!), and his love for family extends to a mission to help all keiki (children). Alongside his wife, friends, and extended family, Duane founded Na Kama Kai in 2008. The nonprofit helps foster a commitment to the environment in the next generation via surf and continues to build on the spirit of community that Duane grew up with.
"[Nā Kama Kai] is a mini-cosm of Makaha and sharing it and providing access to everybody else to have that interaction with mentors, ocean, and then having kuleana to ocean, community, and self. Simply put: We teach kids ... not teach, even ... we empower youth but putting them in the ocean," Duane says. He also has been one of the Polynesian Voyaging Society crew, who also strive to provide education to keiki and help cultivate love for their oceans and the beauty of Hawaii.
It's this love for the waters he calls home and a passion for the sport he’s grown up with—and competed in—that led to his new role: portraying the iconic Duke Kahanamoku in the new documentary "Waterman." "It’s a big pair of shoes to fill—figuratively and realistically since he has huge feet," Duane laughs. "The documentary is being directed by a Polynesian, and it’s giving the world a chance to see who Duke was and what he did in the time of 1915 that is a testament that goes way beyond the ocean to—sometimes we use the word incorrectly or abuse it—aloha. Duke had such an amazing personality and style he was loved by every single person of every color that he met.
Duane stars in scenes reenacting surf in the time of Duke, including riding a replica of the all-wood, no-fin board that Duke himself rode (see a similar replica of that original board shaped by fellow Surfer in Residence Pohaku Stone on display at Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort!). "To ride a board that was basically what Duke and all the beach boys would have been riding was an opportunity to step outside of everything else we know about surfing,” Duane says. “For me, in Makaha, I ride all types of boards, but this is like another level. When I get on that board, it’s so big and heavy you have to reprogram yourself to feel the board—and I let the board tell me what I need to do and where I need to put it in the wave.
Check out the film and hang out in Duane's Oahu homeland with a stay at one of Outrigger's Oahu favorite spots, from craft hotel Waikiki Beachcomber to the laid-back Waikiki Malia by Outrigger.
Children of the Sea
The Land of Surf
About Luke Shepardson – Outrigger Surfer in Residence
Known as the “Super Bowl of Surfing,” the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is the premier surfing competition in the world and attracts the sport’s biggest names. Just being invited is an honor, so when a local lifeguard from Hawaii won this year’s competition – and competing while on duty during his breaks – we knew we had to invite him into our Surfers in Residence program.
About the Smith brothers – Outrigger Surfer in Residence
They professionally surf together, run a thriving business together, and grew up together. Join host Marco Olivari as he dives into the story of the Smith brothers, Alex and Travis. In this episode, they discuss pro-surfing, social media stardom and founding The Sunrise Shack.
About Billy Kemper – Outrigger Surfer in Residence
Every generation seems to have one surfing star who makes the crossover to Hollywood recognition. And we're excited that this generation's household surfing star on the rise seems to be a member of the extended Outrigger surf fam: Billy Kemper.
This superstar surfer cut his teeth on the glossy waves of the Pacific growing up on the island of Maui. At age 31, Kemper is already a four-time Pe'ahi Challenge Champion, Sunset Open winner and a household name in the surfing world. And he is about to have what will likely be the busiest, most high-profile
year of his career—just as he comes back from a devastating
In February 2020, Kemper endured a near-fatal wipeout in the waters off of Morocco that left him with a broken pelvis, collapsed lung, destroyed knee and cracked ribs after knocking him unconscious. Now, he's back in the water, feeling ready to fight harder than ever. The surfer's epic comeback journey is documented in a new six-part docuseries called "Billy," currently streaming on the World Surf League website.
The series follows Kemper as he fights to get back to his family, get back on the board, and confront the personal motivations that have defined his career. This very intimate portrait of one of the world's top surfers goes behind the glamour to show the story of a husband, father and elite athlete determined to come back better than ever from a life-changing accident that caused the whole world to hold its breath.
Kemper is also set to hit the surfer-cool "stage" of our Surfers in Residence and return as a guest (slash friend) alongside his wife Tahiti (sister of fellow Surfer in Residence Tiara). Keep up with Billy's whirlwind year with the exclusive Outrigger interview where we'll chat with Billy about his comeback journey, what it's like to be followed around for a docuseries, and what he has planned ahead. In the meantime, check out our other chats with our fave surfers (the latest with the legend Kelly Slater!) to stay in the loop.
Also, join us at the Waikiki Beachcomber on June 11th for a special poolside bash to celebrate Kemper's recovery. Guests will have the chance to preview never-seen-before clips from his docuseries alongside chill live music and more.
Shane Dorian’s kids’
What’s next for Shane Dorian?
How did Shane Dorian
get into surfing?
About Shane Dorian – Outrigger Surfer in Residence
Icon and surf trailblazer Shane Dorian is a legend not only for his big-wave skills but also for his influence on the sport, the culture—and the next generation.
Outrigger's Surfers in Residence series led by Faith Surf School's Tammy Moniz chatted with Shane recently at Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort.
Shortly after Hawaii became a state, Shane's father moved to Hawaii, and Shane grew up on the Magic Sands shores of the Big Island in front of his parents' restaurant. His childhood was filled with spearfishing, diving, bodyboarding—and surfing.
"For my 5th birthday, my dad had one of his old surfboards from California cut in half and reshaped, and then he gave it to me for my birthday," Shane says. "And so I started surfing, and I fell in love with surfing."
Shane began competing and short-boarding around age 10 and got his first sponsorship from a former Surf Vibrations surf shop in Kona when he was a pre-teen, where he found nurturing and mentorship among the local network of peers and uncles and mentors. "Surfing for me was important in a lot of different aspects of my life,” Shane says. “At the start, it was for fun, then growing up, my parents went through a rocky time ... and at that point, surfing went from just fun to a safe space to something that sort of saved me."
After moving to Oahu when he was 15, Shane immersed himself in bigger waves and experienced the challenge and power of the North Shore. Shane spent 11 years straight competing on the World Tour, traveling the globe and seeking the World Title. But he kept feeling a pull to his passion and his best surfing: the big waves.
With waves reaching up to 80 feet high and speeds of around 50 mph, big-wave surfing has become one of the stars of the surfing world for its breathtaking rides. But when Shane left the pro circuit to focus on the giants, there was no big-wave tour and no path to follow. "When I went in [to my sponsors] with a full treatment and paragraphs and bullet points and here’s my three- to five-year plan, I didn’t have a single name on there to be like, 'hey, I wanna do what this guy’s doing.' There was no pathway; there hadn't been a person who had gone the direction I wanted to emulate,” Shane shares. “At the time, what I wanted to do was really unprecedented. So I was stoked that my sponsors, and it was a leap of faith on their part, believed in my vision and what I wanted to do.” That vision led to the first-ever career as a big-wave surfer, a part of the sport that is now one of the most renowned.
Blazing a new trail started even before Shane’s big-wave journey. When he was 21, he founded the Shane Dorian Keiki Classic, a competition at Banyans on the Big Island dedicated to bringing groms together with The Goat(s). The event is free to enter and gives back to Big Island Giving Tree. This spirit of sharing with the next generation all over the world is something Shane is as passionate about as the waves themselves. "Whether you're a kid from Sumbawa, Indonesia or in France or Portugal or in Africa or Hawaii, it's kind of a level playing field …" Shane says, “Whether you’re a certain skin tone or a certain gender or where you live, it doesn't matter. If you absolutely are passionate about surfing and have the ability, you can be the next whoever. And that's super exciting, right—there's no barrier of entry for surfing. Save up a few bucks and get a surfboard and have swim trunks, and you're good to go."
As Tammy says, Shane’s loyalty and love for the sport shines through, and he’s a role model for the next generation—including her son. "[Before he was on the pro circuit], my son Seth was asked by one of the magazines ‘who's your favorite surfer,' and he had said you,” Tammy says. “And I said why did you choose Shane, and he said, ‘Because he competed at that level of surfing with so much respect, and then he did his own thing ... he did it his own way.’"
Check out other great Surfers in Residence interviews with everyone from Kelly Slater to Carissa Moore. Come make your own waves in Waikiki with a stay soon!
Make Your Own Waves
Keiki and Culture
Making (Big) Waves
From Oahu to World Tour
Magic Sands Beginnings
What does Duke Kahanamoku’s mean to Carissa Moore?
About Carissa Moore – Outrigger Surfer in Residence
The Aloha Lifestyle
Born in Honolulu and learning to surf on Waikiki Beach, Carissa Moore has dominated the surf world since she was a pre-teen—and this summer the now 29-year-old became thefirst woman to ever win a gold medal in Surfing's Olympic debutin the 2020 SummerGames in Tokyo.
Carissa started surfing at just 5 years old, where she grew up hitting the waves with her family onthe beaches of Oahu. Since then, she's gone from being unstoppable in amateur contests to becoming of the most successful surfers of all
A Lifetime of Firsts
time—and proving she’s a force to be reckoned with. At an early age, Carissa was already executing difficult surfing moves. At 11, she began competing in National Scholastic Surfing Association Championships junior contests, winning 11 titles. And at 16, she became the youngest-ever champion at the Reef Hawaiian Pro when she won the Triple Crown of Surfing event.
The award-winning surfer’s otherfirsts include being the
youngest person to ever win a surfing world title. At 19, she earned her first ASP Women’s World Championship becoming the youngest winner in the tour's history. Carissa has been inducted into the Surfer’s Hall of Fame, and she's been recognized as the Top Female Surfer in SURFER magazine multiple times.In 2016, the state of Hawaii recognized her achievements with her own holiday: Carissa Moore Day each January 4th. And this surf pro’s achievements and contributions don't stop once she reaches land—she also has made an impact on the local community.
Carissa is not only a World Surfing Star, an Olympic Gold Medalist, and a legend in her own right but she’s also an avid supporter of the Aloha lifestyle.Inspired by the "Father of Surfing" Duke Kahanamoku—who gave back in his era, from training volunteers in water lifesaving techniques during World War II to raising funds for the American Red Cross—Carissa is passionate about giving back via the gift of surf. Three years ago, she started the Moore Aloha Charitable Foundation toempower young women both in and out of the water. The character-building and mentoring program encourages women to be strong and confident by using surfing as a platform.
What advice did Carissa Moore get before the Olympics?
What was Carissa Moore’s Olympic experience like?
What are your early memories of surfing Waikiki Beach?
About Michael Ho & Tony Moniz – Outrigger Surfer in Residence
Endless Summer: The '80s Pro Surf Circuit
Our latest conversation had our interviewer Tammy Moniz chatting with not one but two surf legends: Tony Moniz (who happens to be her husband and father of fellow Surfers in Residence interviewee Kelia Moniz) and Hawaiian Triple Crown, Duke Classic, World Cup, and Pipeline Masters winner Michael Ho.
"A lot of it started right here in the back of us," says Tony, gesturing to the expanse of Waikiki Beach and the famous Queens Break seen from the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort
Paying Homage to the Queens (Break)
After cutting their teeth on the Oahu shores, both Michael and Tony traveled the world with their kids on the pro surf circuit in the 1980s. Tony shares that the grind of trying to qualify for the World Tour could be grueling. "You go across the other half of the world, fly for 36 hours, you paddle out to perfect—true story—J. Bay, a dream wave as a kid for me watching Endless Summer and Jeffrey's Bay ... I'm finally there, and it's 8 to 10 foot, and the comp is on." But because the judges deemed Tony disqualified because he didn't sit next to the buoy before the event started, he couldn't compete. But that didn't stop him. "I'm grateful I got to travel the world. I made very little freakin' money," says Tony. "But I still followed my passion, and today, you know what, I get to teach surfing in Waikiki. That's my Ph.D.; my reward is right here." Michael echoes how much different the surf circuit was back then versus today. "It's a lot easier now. They got coaches and sponsors, people looking after them. Sponsors weren't even around then. We were just starting to get $200 a month here, $100 there—if you made $500 a month, you were a big pro."
balcony they're chatting on. Michael recalls coming to Queens with his dad, one of the original beach boys, and his uncle, the iconic "The Duke" Kahanamoku. "Ya, this is where it all started for me," agrees Michael.
One of Tony's lifelong goals was getting to surf the "giant" of the industry, the Duke Classic. The way in, according to the "uncles" of surf at the time? Big waves. So Tony headed to the North Shore to ride them. With some big waves under their belt, both Tony and Michael made it into Duke's Classic, and as Tony admires, Michael went on to win the Pipeline Masters with a broken arm. "You were pretty much the quiet assassin," Tony says to Michael. "You weren't loud. You were a doer in the waves, and you didn't let anyone distract you from your passion. Even to this day." As Tony shares, Michael is still surfing the biggest Pipeline has to offer and still pulling into the barrel. "Funny you say that," Michael says, laughing. "I told my son and daughter, 'Ah, when I'm 60, I'll stop surfing Pipe, and then I'm like one more year, ah one more year." He's now 64 and shows no signs of stopping.
On the Waves of Giants
Tammy shares how in Waikiki, everyone pays homage to Uncle Duke. Around the world, Tony and Michael have left a legacy, too; what Tammy calls a "deposit of aloha" in the spots they've surfed in other lands. Now, when their children travel there, they're embraced and taken care of, too. As Tony says, "I believe we did take the aloha with us. We were well-liked and we respected people everywhere we went, even in our own lineup. And that's a big payoff for our kids. For me, I was affected by Uncle Duke. As a young boy, I always heard the "Ambassador of Aloha" word, and that he shared, he traveled, he gave." Michael agrees that there is something special about the aloha spirit—and that it goes beyond surfing. "Cuz if we got one plate lunch and there's four guys, we're all four gonna eat, we're gonna share," he says.
Watch the full interview to see the legends and learn more, like etiquette tips for traveling to new surf breaks or how respecting the lineup lets you get in faster (and get invited to the luau after!). And join us at one of Outrigger's resorts right on Waikiki Beach to hit the waves yourself (no matter your level!) and rub elbows with local greats like Tony and Michael. As Tammy sums up, the impact these two have had has been phenomenal. "You both have a lot of accomplishments that we could Google," she says. "But I think for me, the most treasured thing about both of you is who you are and what you've become to the community and surf community. So thank you both for being what a Hawaiian man is to our generations, our children, our surf community ... the people who come to Hawaii, and the traveling surfers that compete. Both of you are highly regarded, dearly loved, and treasured in their hearts. So thank you so much."
Meet the Legacy
How did you learn good
What’s the difference between surf competitions then and now?