Healing Through Surfing | Page 7 | Go Hawaii

Healing Through Surfing

Scroll to Continue

Dustin Tester

Maui Surfer Girls Founder
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.

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.”


Tell us what it felt like to surf Jaws.

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.

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.”


What made you start this surf camp? 

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.

“The ocean doesn’t judge and that’s a pretty powerful thing when you’re out there.”


What do you love about surfing?

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.


Can any woman surf?

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.” 

 

More Stories

Kauai

Leinaala Jardin

A teacher dedicates her life to take on the duty of bringing hula—the life of Hawaiian culture—from prohibited to celebrated.

More

Kauai

Brandon Baptiste

A chef gives up culinary fame to come home, and reinvents a humble plantation-era dessert with world-class technique and local ingredients.

More

Maui

Isaac Bancaco

A spearfisherman and chef exemplifies taking only what you need, defending the ocean’s bounty and representing local farmers and fishermen in his cuisine.

More

Maui

Dustin Tester

A trailblazing big-wave surfer empowers women to overcome the gnarliest challenges through surf therapy, just like she did.

More

Molokai

Greg Solatorio

A cultural practitioner sacrifices everything to carry on his ancestors’ way of life, even as the modern world encroaches.

More

Lanai

Anela Evans

A cultural practitioner bridges both worlds so that luxury and ease can coexist with the grit and authenticity that shaped her native land.

More

Hawaii

Cliff Kapono

A young Hawaiian leaves home to further his education and returns with the ability to use chemistry as a platform to share ancestral wisdom with the modern world.

More

Oahu

Kyle Reutner

An ex-bartender works with Hawaiian researchers and local farmers to return glory to noble cane with craft and mixology, redefining the Mai Tai as a worthy cocktail.

More

Oahu

Keone Nunes

A Native Hawaiian tattooist bestows ancient, hand-tapped kakau upon worthy recipients willing to endure a rite of passage.

More

Browse Hawaii Adventures

Filter Results
showing 61 - 70 of 1469
Plumeria kitchen
Oahu
Waikiki Network
2572 Lemon Road #502
Honolulu, HI 96818
Summary

Clean, affordable, Waikiki deluxe condominium studio & 1 bedroom rentals. Discover hidden Waikiki. Steps to beach/zoo/Kapiolani Park or Ala Moana park. Waikiki Banyan 1 bedroom. Convertible 1-bedrooms center Waikiki. All secure buildings.

Websites
Front_Portside
Oahu
Makani Catamaran
1009 Ala Moana Blvd.
Slip F-1. Kewalo Harbor
Honolulu, HI 96814
Summary

Makani Catamaran is a luxury sailing vessel with a capacity of 80. Offering 4 sails daily. Departing from Kewalo Harbor. With an experienced crew, full wet bar, interior cabin with large screen TV, and surround sound its World Class Sailing at its finest!

Websites
Saltwater Lagoon
Hawaii
Hilton Waikoloa Village
69-425 Waikoloa Beach Drive
Waikoloa, HI 96738-5710
Summary

A spectacular oceanfront resort on the Island of Hawai'i. Escape to a tropical playground with saltwater lagoon, pools, waterslides and wildlife. 14 restaurants and bars include Legends of Hawai‘i Lu‘au and Kamuela Provision Company. Activities include the Dolphin Quest, tennis, golf and Kohala Spa.

Websites
Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
Oahu
Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
2570 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Summary

Located on the most scenic end of Waikiki and directly across from Waikiki Beach, this hotel features an outdoor pool, fitness center, meeting & banquet rooms, an activities desk and concierge, WiFi internet access, and on-site dining. Contemporary guest rooms offer a lanai & a Keurig coffee maker.

Websites
cave
Hawaii
King Kayak Hawaii
78-144 Holua Road
Kailua Kona, HI 96740
Summary

Guided Kayak Tours (2-4 hrs) along the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Kayak and snorkel among coral teeming with colorful tropical fish in crystal clear waters with clarity over 50ft. Very small groups offering dolphin watching, turtle cleaning station, cliff jumping, sea caves, and more.

Websites
Legends of Kaanapali Luau - Legends of Kaanapali Luau
Maui
Legends of Kaanapali Luau
2525 Kaanapali Pkwy
Lahaina, HI 96761
Summary

Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel extends their ho‘okipa by presenting The Legends of Kā‘anapali Lū‘au every Monday night in the heart of the hotel‘s Tiki Courtyard. You’ll be greeted with warm smiles by the friendly staff of the hotel, leading you to a scrumptious feast prepared by island-born chefs.

Websites