Healing Through Surfing
Scroll to Continue
Dustin is a surfing pioneer. She was a member of the first all-woman tow-team to surf Peahi, also known as Jaws, on Maui’s North Shore. She calls it, “The Mount Everest of big wave surfing.” On her first wave, she was whipped into a 25-foot monster. It was one of the most exhilarating rides of her life.
The waves off of Olowalu are only a foot tall. Dustin pushes the 10-year old onto a wave and the girl gets up and riding. Her joy is not unlike Dustin’s, surfing that 25-footer at Jaws. In ancient times, only alii (Hawaiian royalty) could surf. Today, Dustin is spreading the joy of surfing to girls and women from around the world, turning their fear into power.
“Surfing has always empowered me and healed my heart.”
Peahi (Jaws) is a magical, powerful wave here on the North Shore of Maui. Only the best of the best surf that wave. In 2004, me, Andrea Moller and Maria Souza, all trained to go to Jaws. We were the first women out there. It was definitely eye-opening and scary. The first wave at Jaws for me was a lot of pressure. I just had triple the anxiety, getting there with all that adrenaline and those legends surfing Jaws watching.
Tell us what it felt like to surf Jaws.
We did great. Everyone was pretty blown away, seeing women that were really handling the wave out there. It was probably one of the best surf experiences of my life out at Jaws with those girls. That gave me confidence that “I can be out here with these guys.”
When I was nine, I was uprooted from my home here on Maui. My mom moved us to California. So that was very difficult. I lost my dad and everything I knew. When I came back to Maui and became more of a surfer in high school, that's when I really discovered my identity. You know, like I'm a surfer, I'm an ocean woman, I’m an athlete – and that gave me peace, knowing that's who I am. I feel like the hardships that I had during my teenage years and growing up here on Maui has contributed so much to me starting Maui Surfer Girls.
What made you start this surf camp?
“The ocean doesn’t judge and that’s a pretty powerful thing when you’re out there.”
It’s an amazing and empowering sport that I love to share. It’s a spiritual connection with the ocean that I really covet. It’s my church. You can surf a two-inch wave and feel a release or you can surf the hugest wave of your life and still feel a release, there’s always some therapeutic aspect to surfing waves. We're giving women and girls the opportunity to connect with their bodies and their spirits and feel the healing mana (spiritual power) of the ocean.
What do you love about surfing?
I'm trying to really break down the barriers of the stereotypical surfer girl and really show girls and women that anyone can do this sport. A surfer's body is anything. It's in any package. Some of the girls come with self-confidence issues and I found that surfing is the perfect outlet for them to really empower them in their bodies. They definitely find that inner warrior in them that's like, “Yeah, it’s gonna be awesome. I'm a surfer.”
Can any woman surf?
It’s a peaceful morning at Kahana Bay on Oahu’s Windward side. There isn’t a single soul on the sand – a far cry from the bright lights and buzz of Waikiki. The waves here are legendary. Once, long ago, a Kahana Bay Chief challenged the Goddess Hiiaka – sister of Pele, the Goddess of fire – to a surfing competition in these waters. It did not go well for the Chief…More
Anela Evans sings a melodic oli (chant) atop a cliff overlooking Puu Pehe (known as Sweetheart Rock), on Lanai’s south shore. She’s just come from her day job as a cultural liaison at the Four Seasons Lanai, just a short hike from here. As she sings over this dramatic vista, she still wears her formal work suit. It’s a contrast that not only informs who she is, but the contradictions in Lanai itself…More
The subway rumbles under Columbus Circle in New York City. Inside the towering Time Warner Center is Per Se by Chef Thomas Keller, one of the best restaurants in New York. This is where Brandon Baptiste cut his teeth, working tirelessly 12-16 hours a day, perfecting his culinary skills, and learning from the very best, to be the very best…More
Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole performs a hula and oli (chant) in the streets of downtown Hilo. Her voice is pure. Her movements, powerful. In an increasingly modern world, this is how she connects to the Island of Hawaii. To the snowcapped mountains of Maunakea. To the rolling, green hills of Waimea. To the primordial, black lava rock of Kilauea…More
It’s 2 a.m. on Oahu’s breathtaking, Waianae coast. At this hour, the connection between the physical and the spiritual world intermingles. In the shore break, Keone Nunes is waking up his tools for Kahekili, the god of tattooing. He does a prayer and dips his tattooing tools into the water to make them aware they’ll be doing sacred work today. It's a fairly simple ceremony, but it's embedded in thousands of years of culture…More
Chef Sheldon Simeon and Brandon Lee stand in a pasture of happy pigs in lush Honokaa, north of Hilo on the Island of Hawaii. Tonight, they’ll be cooking for a big, local-style potluck at Sheldon’s father’s house. But before the dishes hit the table, the guys wanted to take a visit to the source – the farm…More
The sun rises over Halawa Valley, Molokai. Greg Solatorio blows the pu, or conch shell. At the other end of the lush valley, Greg’s father, Anakala Pilipo Solatorio, blows his pu back. There is no cell phone connection here. This is how father and son communicate over distances. The conch shell echoes across this beautiful, verdant valley. This could be today or it could 200 years ago…More
Dustin Tester stands in the warm waters of Olowalu Beach giving a wide-eyed 10-year old her first surfing lesson. Dustin grew up on the beaches of Lahaina. Her grandfather helped build the A-Frame cabins just offshore – the same cabins she runs her Maui Surfer Girls surf camp out of today. She has an infectious energy. That energy helped her survive one of the most dangerous waves in the world…More
The stars shine bright above Maui. Kala Tanaka sits on the sand overlooking the ocean on the west side. Kala is a voyager and an educator at Hui o Waa Kaulua, Maui’s Voyaging Society. When she stays on land for too long, she begins to long for the sea. But it hasn’t always been that way…More
The sun is about to break over the horizon at tranquil Lydgate Beach, just south of the iconic Wailua River on Kauai’s east side. Leinaala Jardin has a long day ahead of her. Jardin is a kumu hula (hula teacher). She’s here with her halau (hula school), Halau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leinaala, for a hiuwai, a traditional water blessing. Tonight, they’ll be performing in front of 1,000 people to celebrate her halau’s 21st anniversary…More
Still & Moving Center is the most comprehensive mind body movement center in Honolulu. An international training facility, we offer corporate or private, wellness & Hawaiian cultural packages and retreats, movement classes/workshops/performers, personalized coaching and bodywork services.
Morning beach and sunset yoga daily - group or private. Perfect for convention activity or retreat! We also offer 5 hour jungle yoga retreat hikes/tours on rustic off beaten paths in the valley, jungle, through streams, and sacred places; all integrating yoga or meditation.