I have put off writing this post for a few months now; just really unsure how I would be able to give my trip justice in a few paragraphs and a few pics. But here goes…
The day my boss mentioned I would need to go to Hawaii to chaperone some media my heart started to beat uncontrollably in my chest and the corners of my mouth wanted to do nothing but turn upwards. I tried to keep my cool, pretend like it wasn’t a big deal (nearly everyone in my office has been to Hawaii) but considering she had just made one of my childhood dreams come true I did a good job at staying in my chair.
The trip turned out to be one of those experiences that will forever be etched in my memory; a work trip to Hawaii for Billabong to provide a true and authentic brand experience for a few fashionistas at the iconic Pipe Masters. The event is the final leg of the Vans Triple Crown, and the last and most prestigious event of the World Tour. Getting to witness the raw power of the wave firsthand was beyond belief; the noise, the speed, the size and the amount of water exploding on the reef below gave me goosebumps.
We spent the first night in Waikiki at the Outrigger Beach Resort which had decadent and old school furnishings, eccentric patterned carpet, amazing hula girl lamps and hilarious bell boys in floral shirts who definitely earned their tips. Waikiki is like Surfers Paradise on steroids; flash cars, high fashion shops and a whole lotta glitz, glamour and money while still encompassing the island vibe. Lunch at the Cheesecake Factory was my first ever American meal; an iced tea as big as a popcorn bucket and fish tacos I could not finish – and I never usually leave anything on my plate. Mai Tais while watching the sunset at the Royal Hawaiian was soon to follow, and then dinner under the Banyan Tree at Moana Surfrider. I cannot begin to describe how I felt longboarding on an 11 foot board with a view of Diamond Head. I didn’t even care that it was packed full of silly tourists trying to stand up for the first time; I paddled for every lump and bump that rolled through and was well and truly in my element.
The next day we made our way to the fabled North Shore where we were to be staying for the next week. Driving along the coastline I had Blue Crush scenes vividly flashing through my mind. If I wasn’t with my boss I would of blasted “Could you be loved” on the radio…so cliché I know. Haleiwa was our pit stop and I was gobsmacked at how cute the place was; colourful shaved ice, shops full of shells, fresh fruit stalls, and good looking humans everywhere; my kind of Heaven. Driving into Turtle Bay Resort was again like something off a movie with the tallest palm trees I’ve ever seen, majestic golf courses with villas plonked sporadically on the grounds and an incredible pool right on the waters edge. I didn’t have much time to soak in the view from our room as we had 30mins to get ready for the Surfer Poll Awards. Wow what a privilege and nerve racking experience being side by side with all the absolute legends of the industry; Gerry Lopez presenting the awards, sitting at a table with the founder of Billabong, and Jordy Smith, John John Florence, Coco Ho and Kelly Slater all within arms reach. Alissa’s dream came true when she got picked to learn the Hula on stage!
Our week was made up of decorating the girls Billabong house right in front of Pipe; showing the media the new collections, wining and dining, global meetings, BBQs at the men’s Billabong house, watching the comp and photoshoots with the athletes. Even though it was incredibly busy with late nights and early mornings I managed to run on adrenaline from all the excitement Hawaii has to offer. I have to say I had the best Acai Bowl ever from one of the many food trucks dotted along the North Shore. Ted’s Bakery was another standout; and probably the most delicious bacon and egg roll I’ve ever eaten. I can’t forget to mention Foodland either; a supermarket where you are bound to run into famous surfers, alcohol cheaper than water, and so many delicious snacks. The dish that tops them all is Ahi Poke; a raw tuna salad that is very much a staple Hawaiian dish and is a taste sensation!
Meeting Keala Kennelly was quite a surreal moment for me. She is Billabong’s longest standing athlete, a big wave surfer and DJ and was on the tour when I was growing up, not to mention starring in my all time favourite movie; Blue Crush. There is an incredible spirit of Aloha; it’s like an aura of constant good vibes, peace and tranquility covers the islands. Everyone says hello to you and are always interested in hearing your story, people stop completely to let you cross the road, and let you merge into traffic even when it’s bumper to bumper along Kamehameha Highway. I cannot wait to return and get to further explore my favourite archipelagos in the Pacific.
You had me at Aloha