A perfect day in Oahu
A gorgeous day out on a catamaran in Oahu led our group to meet a fantastic surfing instructor. I knew some of us wanted lessons, and I wanted things to be just right and feel a little more organic for lack of a better term. So when the five of us who were interested in surfing met Troy Sunderland, we knew we had found the right fit for our small group. Troy started surfing when he was five with his uncle at Kailua Shore Break, started teaching at 18 and opened his own surf school, VIP Surf and Tours Hawaii, in 2014.
We paddled out from Waikiki Beach for our two hour experience. I quickly realized getting up on my board might not be the toughest feat for the day as my shoulders, back and neck muscles quickly started burning as we paddled out to catch our first wave. I asked Troy and our other instructor, Rich, about getting in shape for surfing. Obviously, this full body workout could whip your body into shape, so it's no mystery why surfers' bodies are so strong and sculpted, but from a trainer's standpoint I was curious. Swimming definitely helps with the paddling, and all five of us novices now have more respect for this aspect of the sport, for sure. Troy told me later how some dedicated and pro surfers train by underwater rock running. They run the sandy bottoms of the ocean by holding their breath and a large rock, giving their lungs and legs an unbelievable workout.
The way the waves are measured in Hawaii are from the back of the wave to the top, so the 3-4 foot faces we had this day would usually be measured at 5-7 foot faces. (I think I have that right!) Troy told me the largest wave he has surfed was 8-10 Hawaiian style but most of his fondest memories come from the 4-5 foot waves he has surfed with his good friends.
Though I am proud to say I got up on my first try, it wasn't a completely smooth experience. I truly think, because I didn't have time to over-think getting up on my board, as I was sent off by our instructors talking me up on the wave, that it was more about being mindful and present than going through the motions in my head ahead of time- a lesson I am constantly learning. It wasn't until I started to overthink and worry about how to do everything right that I tumbled. That is not to say that surfing is all a mental state, but the mind is a powerful thing.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Troy after our trip and will leave you with some of his insight. We will definitely be back next year to go out on another adventure with Troy, and I encourage you to look him up when you are ready to surf and/or explore Hawaii. I really love when I hear words from the people I meet that re-affirm what exercise and nature can do for your soul and how it can set your entire energy for your day. So I will let the expert tell you in his own words.
Good waves inspire me to get up and get the day started. Once you start your day with doing something so fun the rest of the day is awesome. It keeps me going.
The perfect day is waking up early, getting some good surf with some good friends, going back down to the beach or going on a hike, then off to surf again and a sunset sail.
There are good spots to surf all over the island of Oahu. When North Shore is good, I like to surf Rockie Point. Sometimes, I like to mess around and longboard at Pops, a South Shore break, and one of the breaks I take people out for surfing lessons. It is a real fun spot when the waves are around head high.
I have a lot to learn about surfing, and realistically don't have dreams of becoming an amazing surfer. But it was great to get out of my comfort zone, and I learned a lot in a little bit of time from a great instructor. The five of us left ready to learn more next year.
Troy Sunderland owns VIP Surf and Tours Hawaii and offers tours/surf lessons on all 8 of the Hawaiian Islands. You can also follow them on Instagram. It is a great way to experience the beauty of Hawaii in a less touristy manner!