• March 12, 2017

    Ohana Travels: POW!WOW!

    Welcome to POW!WOW!

    Founded in 2010 with the goal of bringing together artists from all over the world, it has evolved into an amazing mural creation festival that has hosted hundreds of artists in over 10 different cities and countries.

    OluKai is proud to partner with this vibrant artist community that POW!WOW! brings together, starting with the first festival of 2017, in Honolulu. The festival takes place in Kaka‘ako district of Honolulu, and over 60 artists spend the week climbing ladders and high up on lifts as they sketch, paint and spray walls anywhere from 10 to 100 feet high!

    When they're not working on their gorgeous pieces, you can catch them around town grabbing coffee or checking out the local community, as well as at a number of the nightly gallery showings, movie premieres and concerts.

    Follow along here and on our social media channels as we meet the artists, talk story with the local community, attend special events, and share our experiences from our week at POW!WOW! Hawaii.


    Olukai X POW! WOW! -- Long Beach 


    POW!WOW! Long beach kicks off July 16th and runs through the 22nd. This is the third year that POW!WOW! is hosted in Long Beach. This year an A list roster of global artists will come to the city and transform the walls into beautiful pieces of art.

    During the week the Long Beach community is encouraged to check out the transformation of the walls in the area as well as attend exclusive panel discussions and events held by the team of POW!WOW! Long Beach.

    The week kicks off with the opening of the official POW!WOW! Long Beach Pop-Up shop at Made by Millworks.

    Monday - Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia will hold a press conference welcoming the artists to the community and celebrating the beautification of the city through these murals.

    Tuesday is a special panel discussion with Jeff Staple who will be discussing the career and work with artists Adele Renault.

    Wednesday we will be co-hosting a talk with brand ambassador Tatiana Suarez at the Museum of Latin American Art.

    The week will close out with an OluKai hosted event Saturday July 22nd. This will be a collaborative event with artist Mike Giant. In true art battle style the event will host 96 local contestants painting on temporary walls and one winner will take home the grand prize of $1,000 cash. Join us for food, coffee and music all day at the Varden Hotel Parking Lot located on Pacific ave.

    Follow along as we share the happenings of the week @OluKai#PowWowLongBeach

    Join us for a hosted Graffiti Writing Contest

    JULY 22ND, 2017 FROM 10 AM TO 8 PM



    OluKai x POW! WOW! -- Hawaii


    This year's POW!WOW! Hawaii kicks off on February 11th and runs through the 18th. As over 60 artists gather in the Kaka‘ako neighborhood, the creative energy becomes contagious. Each artist has been given a designated wall or space on which to create, and as they begin to work on their pieces the energy of the people and place plays a role in the creative process. Many of the murals created during the week embody and embrace the Hawaiian culture, landscape, colors, and people.

    The week gets off to a roaring start Saturday night, and doesn't slow down until Sunday morning. With events running day and night all week - whether it be gallery showings, talk story with select artists, break dance battles, and movie premieres, there is never a dull moment.

    Monday we will be kicking things off at Lana Lane Studios, a collaborative space home to a number of artists, that doubles as the headquarters and rendezvous spot for the week.

    Tuesday night sees a gallery showing at Lana Lane Studios, featuring smaller pieces by many of the artists involved in the mural festival.

    Wednesday we will check in with our good friends Wooden Wave, as they work on their piece just down the road from their studio in Lana Lane.

    Thursday night we are hosting the premiere of Saving Banksy at Kaka‘ako Agora, located in the heart of the neighborhood where the festival takes place. This also features a special question and answer with the creators of the films. We hope to see you there!

    And of course, at the end of the week all the artists come together to celebrate the community, each other and the beautiful work they have created over the 7 day festival.

    Follow along as we share in POW!WOW! Hawaii 2017. @OluKai #PowWowHawaii

    Join us for a special premiere of Saving Banksy

    FEBRUARY 16TH, 2017 FROM 7 TO 9PM


  • March 12, 2017

    Hawaiian Lifeguard Association

    Terrain Tested, Hawaiian Lifeguard Approved

    Nearly four decades ago, veteran Maui lifeguard and Waterman Hall of Famer, Archie Kalepa saw the legendary Eddie Aikau in action—feats of selfless courage so formative that Kalepa knew he’d someday join that brotherhood of elite Hawaiian life savers. “We perform unrecognized heroic acts every day,” says Kalepa with disarming humility. He and the 450+ guards of the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association each proudly wear OluKai footwear as they patrol the rocky cliffs and riptide ravaged shores of the islands.

    The Hawaiian Lifeguard Collection is developed to be part of the uniform, “part of our tool chest,” says Kalepa. This is rugged footwear for rugged terrain—the day-to-day demands of the HLA have tested these shoes and sandals for the needs of a true waterman. Simply put: “It’s a shoe that works,” says Kalepa. He and the rest of the HLA put these shoes to the test far before they find their way to the shelves. From the fit and overall performance to breathability and traction, the HLA take these shoes through real field research—the actual gauntlet of lifeguarding. Hawaiian lifeguards provide recommendations and suggestions to properly shape footbeds and increase traction—it is this kind of rigorous testing that vastly improves final design of the product. These shoes are not just inspired by Hawaiian lifeguards, they’re thoughtfully constructed specifically to meet their needs from the slick rocky outcropping around Hanauma Bay, to the 25 foot swells of the storied North Shore.

    Hawaiian lifeguarding is a proud tradition and tight-knit community, the highest standard to which guards in other coastal communities aspire. OluKai is humbled to play a significant role in nurturing that tradition. For each pair of the Hawaiian Lifeguard Collection, a portion of the proceeds directly supports Hawaii’s Junior Lifeguard Program, inspiring and training the next generation of Kalepas and Aikaus. “No matter what anyone says, if you put your mind to it, you can do it,” Kalepa tell these Junior Guards. “I know it’s true because I did it. Stay focused, stay healthy, stay fit, and keep your integrity. Those are things that we need to build, not just lifeguards but great leaders in the community.”

  • March 7, 2017

    'Ohana Travels

    Meet 'Wooden Wave' - Matt and Roxy Ortiz

    Aloha! We are Matt and Roxy Ortiz, a husband and wife art duo who paint under the name Wooden Wave. We have an art studio in Honolulu at Lana Lane Studios where we work a block away from the sea. Surfing and spending time in the water is how we have fun and get new ideas for our art. We draw our inspiration from the playful lifestyles of those who enjoy the outdoors. Using treehouses as our main subject matter, we draw and paint environments that offer a whimsical take on nature and sustainability.

    Growing up in Hawaii has molded us into people who love and appreciate the ocean and its beauty. We are so excited to take this road trip and experience a completely different landscape! To start off this adventure, we will be painting a mural at the headquarters of Zappos in downtown Las Vegas. From there we will strike out on the road visiting national parks and scenic routes in Utah. Our art is often inspired by our surroundings so we are looking forward to adding to our sketch books while we travel through some of the region’s iconic locations. Our list of stops includes Arches, Zion, and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

    The road trip will end in Salt Lake City where we will be participating in the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow in collaboration with OluKai. With so much to see, we can’t wait to get this road trip started! We hope you can follow along with us and enjoy the ride!


    Las Vegas, Nevada

    “There is a healthy culture and love for murals in this part of town and we enjoyed discovering them on our wanderings.” - WOODEN WAVE

    Back in Hawaii, people call Las Vegas the Ninth Island. With one of largest populations of Hawaiians outside of Hawaii itself, Las Vegas has its fair share of islanders. It’s our first time visiting and as we approached the city on our late night flight, the glowing metropolis below certainly resembled an urban island, floating on a pitch black sea of uninterrupted desert.


    We came here to paint a mural at the headquarters of Zappos which is located in the historic Downtown Las Vegas district. On our first day, we met up with Brian “Paco” Alvarez, the charismatic art curator and cultural historian. He gave us a tour of the grounds and emphasized how much value was placed on art and creativity at Zappos. There were murals all throughout the facilities, some done by Zappos employees and others by artists from the community. Paco explained how in addition to building a creative work culture in-house, Zappos is also striving to support and revitalize the Downtown Las Vegas area.


    When we weren’t painting we explored the downtown district. We were impressed by the iconic neon signs that framed the city skyline and lit the bustling streets. There is a healthy culture and love for murals in this part of town and we enjoyed discovering them on our wanderings. With cafes, galleries, bars and restaurants, downtown Las Vegas offers visitors a taste of the local experience. We especially enjoyed the galleries at the Art Factory and the contemporary mix of shops and restaurants at the Container Park.


    Inspired by the innovative mentality and playful spirit of Zappos culture, we set out to create a mural that could match the overall light-hearted atmosphere within the campus. We typically paint imagined tree house communities that combine rooftop gardens, solar panels, and other sustainable characteristics with half-pipe skate ramps, slides, and tire swings. We derive a lot of joy from envisioning and painting these details because, after all, who wants to live in a place that isn’t fun?  Drawing from the breathtaking range of warm and cool color tones that we observed in the surrounding environment, we were thrilled with the idea of painting our first desert landscape! In a nod to our comparison of the desert as being an ocean of sand, we opted to portray a container ship as our dwelling instead of treehouses. But why stop there? We figured that if you are going to paint a boat in the desert, then you might as well float it in the air with some levitating rocks too!  For us, this theme is perfectly summed up by one of Zappos’ stated core values, “Create Fun and A Little Weirdness!”

    Valley Of Fire, Nevada State Park 

    Our first stop after leaving Las Vegas was the Valley of Fire State Park where the flat desert gave way to large outcrops of fiery red sandstone. Thousands of years of erosion have sculpted the rock structures into fascinating forms, pitted with caves and full of stratified layers of color. As we drove deeper into the park the hues diversified and shifted quickly across a spectrum of oranges, pinks and limestone whites. The road turned frequently around bends to reveal a surreal landscape that made us imagine what it might be like to live on Mars.

    One thing we noticed when we stepped out of the car was the pure silence that hung thick in the air. It’s a completely different sensory experience from Las Vegas, where the cacophony of traffic and music is constant. The pavement was smooth and the road empty of other cars, so Matt pulled his skateboard out of the trunk and got in a couple of downhill sessions. There’s something peaceful in the sound of a single skateboard rolling through the stillness.

    We’re excited to see the other parks on our trip – we’re off to great start and Zion National Park is next!

    "As we drove deeper into the park the hues diversified and shifted quickly across a spectrum of oranges, pinks and limestone whites.” - WOODEN WAVE

    Zion National Park, Utah 

    The canyon walls in Zion National Park were immense. The sheer scale and magnitude of the landscape made us feel tiny, fragile, impermanent.  It is both humbling and gratifying to realize that your life is less than a blip on the geological spectrum of time.  Having put our entire lives into context,  it was time to go hiking, YEW!

    We decided to do the “Narrows,” a water hike that follows the course of the Virgin river. It is remarkable how a relatively small river carved out such a dramatic landscape. The canyon’s sides loomed tall and hemmed us in tightly. A majority of this hike took place in the river so we were stoked to be rocking our amphibious Kamiki shoes!

    We hiked upstream through the cool, refreshing water until twilight, then turned back as the last rays of sunlight lit the surrounding bluffs in pinks,  purples  and warm grays. Who knew that watching rocks change color could be so amazing? By the time we exited the Narrows, the sun had long since set and a full moon hung low and bright above the Canyon walls. What a beautiful way to end the day’s adventure!

    “We hiked upstream through the cool, refreshing water until twilight, then turned back as the last rays of sunlight lit the surrounding bluffs in pinks, purples and warm grays.” - WOODEN WAVE

    Bryce Canyon National Park,  Utah

    It’s safe to say that this park blew our minds. We chose to hike the “Navajo loop” trail which winds down from the scenic Sunset Point overlook into a canyon filled with breathtaking hoodoos. These rock formations have eroded over time to resemble jagged spires of red and orange rock. The entire valley looks like an ancient fortress with these stone turrets standing guard. It’s amazing to see how nature has created such diverse landforms, we were in awe the entire time! We’ve had so much fun exploring the Southwest scenery, but after today we’re not sure if any landscape can beat the stunning Hoodoo area. We can’t wait to find out, Capital Reef National Park is next!

    “The entire valley looks like an ancient fortress with these stone turrets standing guard.” - WOODEN WAVE

    Capital Reef National Park 

    After driving through a surreal moonlit landscape we arrive at midnight in the small town of Torrey, which borders the Capitol Reef National Park. The advantages of driving at night include cool  temperatures, no traffic, and a chance to see the nocturnal wildlife. The disadvantage of driving at night is the nocturnal wildlife. We have to be hyper aware with the high beams on, in order to spot deer and elk (they seem to have a bad habit of crossing the road in front of your car). On this leg of the trip Roxy is at the helm and deftly avoids certain disaster with some ninja-like reflexes. Good on ya Roxy!

    The next morning, Capitol Reef delivers some gorgeous views. Winding our way through the park we stop at a petroglyph site dating back as far as 300 C.E. These markings were left by the culture of the Hisatsinom, who have long since vanished. Geometric carvings of big horn sheep and human figures line the base of the towering rock face. Though the motivations for these petroglyphs remain a mystery, it was inspiring for us as artists to see ancient forms of creative expression and storytelling. It made us feel more connected to the idea of art as part of the human experience, that spans the divide of time.

    The rest of the day was spent on the road, driving to the town of Moab. Along the way, we passed roadside relics of Americana like rusted trucks, trailers, and weather-worn barns. We stopped for fuel at a general store that was built into the side of the mountain. This trip has been full of small places and moments like these that will be remembered with a smile.

    “It made us feel more connected to the idea of art as part of the human experience, that spans the divide of time.” - WOODEN WAVE

    Moab, Utah

    Moab is a small town with a big heart for adventure. It’s a hub for activities like rock climbing, skydiving, mountain biking, and more. The Colorado River runs through this area and has carved out some magnificent canyon walls. We decided that the best way to experience this iconic river vista would be by kayak. After being in the desert for the past week, it was so refreshing and rejuvenating to be back in the water! We spent a few hours paddling and drifting with the current.  The river was broad and gentle for the most part but still feisty enough to send us down a few adrenaline-raising rapids. We were also happy to see some local wildlife, including heron, geese, and the rarely spotted river otter! The whole experience reminded us of how much we love being out in nature and that there are so many ways to enjoy it.

    Next, we traded our kayak for a couple of horses. Arriving at the riverside Hauer Ranch we were excited to learn that we were the only guests signed up for the sunset trail ride. Roxy used to ride as a kid and was at ease atop her aptly named horse “Sassy.” I think that my horse Cash knew I was a rookie because he frequently stopped to nibble on tasty desert grass! Our guide Trace took us along the meandering backcountry trail that crossed streams and passed a myriad of unique rock formations. The striking scenery started taking on a iconic “Western” vibe. Trace explained that this particular area was frequently used in Western films. The list includes many John Wayne movies, as well as more recent films such as Mission Impossible 2 and John Carter. We loved hearing about the history of this place and it was interesting to reflect on how our impression of what the American West looks like, is in large part due to this stunning region.

    On our way back to the ranch, thick clouds rolled in off the horizon and shrouded the surrounding desert in cool atmospheric grays and dark sheets of rain. The mood of the landscape seemed to shift quickly in the filtered light and as the sun set, we felt an upwelling of gratitude and admiration for this beautiful place.

    “The mood of the landscape seemed to shift quickly in the filtered light and as the sun set, we felt an upwelling of gratitude and admiration for this beautiful place.” - WOODEN WAVE

    Arches National Park, Utah 

    “The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, some of which span as much as 300 feet in width!” - WOODEN WAVE

    As we entered the Arches National Park we were once again awestruck by the handy work of Mother Nature. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, some of which span as much as 300 feet in width! These petrified bridges were a fitting finale to our memorable national parks tour.

    After hiking the park for the better half of the day, we hopped back in the car and pointed it north toward our final destination of Salt Lake City. On the highway, it’s easy to slip into tunnel vision mode but something to the left caught our attention. Dinosaurs, dozens of them! They were being installed in the desert as part of a future museum. We pulled over for a closer look and were downright giddy to find a life size T-Rex head and its pre assembled body parts strewn about the construction site. How could we resist a photo op with the king of the dinos? Thoroughly satisfied with our find, we left the museum grounds and turned back onto the highway. Jurassic Park theme music echoed in our heads as the road stretched out in front of us.

    We are now in Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow where we’ll be doing live art at the OluKai booth. This marks the end of our week-long adventure through the National and State Parks. This trip has definitely inspired us in so many ways and we’ll be returning to Hawaii with fond memories and a renewed enthusiasm for exploring nature in its many forms. We hope you’ve enjoyed following our journey through the Southwest!


    Matt and Roxy

  • February 20, 2017

    Photo Gallery: POW!WOW! Hawaii

    Co-Director Kamea Hadar at work

    POW!WOW! Hawaii is wrapped - it was a colorful week filled with creativity, community, and a lot of art. We've collected a few of our favorite photos in this journal - enjoy!

    Welcome to Lana Lane

    Welcome to Lana Lane - the headquarters and heartbeat for all things POW!WOW!

    Tools of the Trade Focused on the details Wooden Wave at work

    We spent Wednesday with our good friends Wooden Wave as they joined POW!WOW! for their fifth year.

    Wooden Wave through the palms Saving Banksy Premiere

    It was a packed house as we premiered the documentary Saving Banksy on Thursday night in Kaka'ako.

    Screening of Saving BanksyQ & A at Saving BanksySaving Banksy PremiereOn the lift In Progress In Progress Night Moves Finalized Mural Shots POW!WOW! flowers Cruising Kaka'ako Mr. Jago's work Checking out the artworkAnywhereAloha Over Kaka'ako

  • February 19, 2017

    Wooden Wave at POW!WOW! Hawaii

    Matt and Roxy at Work

    We spent Wednesday with our good friends of Wooden Wave. They're a dynamic husband and wife artist duo that creates whimsical illustrations, designs, and paintings. And they are especially known for creating imaginative tree houses designed with underlying themes of sustainability, environmental awareness, and, of course, fun!

    This project brings all those elements together to create a treehouse for, and in the shape of, Darth Vader. The story goes that Darth Vader retires from running the empire to his custom tree house in the stars. Aside from featuring the essentials of any Wooden Wave sustainable treehouse - solar panels, garden beds, and skate ramps - Vader had this home custom made for his post-empire needs.

    Upon closer inspection, you'll notice the clothes line has his boots and cape hanging out to dry. The lower floor features a dance floor and Death Star disco ball, because we all know that Darth loves to disco!

    This mural also features the hand-lettering of Lana Lane artist Gavin Murai (under the name Reckon Shop), a lettering and graphic designer with a clean style and, like Wooden Wave, a fun-loving attitude. He created the typography portion featuring the Darth quote, 'Together we can rule the galaxy.' Although originally spoken in hopes of convincing Luke to rule the galaxy with him for the dark side, he has softened with age, and it now serves as a call to action - to live sustainably through an environmentally conscious lens.


  • February 15, 2017



    MATT ORTIZ        

    Designer / Illustrator Honolulu, Hawaii


    Furniture Designer Eastside Costa Mesa, California

    The Pacific is what separates Matt Ortiz and Sean Woolsey, but it’s also what unites them. Both surfers and artists, the ocean is inspiration and life. They met at Sean’s studio in Orange County, CA to share their passion for craft, wood and coastline.

    Wood is so central to Matt’s creativity that it’s one half of his artistic identity; he and his wife Roxy helm an art collective called Wooden Wave. Their illustrations, paintings, and iconic treehouse murals center around the life and culture of Oahu. “The idea of mauka and makai, the mountains and the ocean, are very strong in Hawaiian culture. Those are the places we go to enjoy ourselves, to relax, to play, to hike, to surf. So it’s something that comes out naturally in our work.” Being part of the emerging art scene in Honolulu has fostered a deep sense of community. “As a Hawaiian, I see other artists not as competitors, but as collaborators. Meeting Sean, it’s refreshing to see that anywhere you go in the world, you can find a likeminded individual who values the same inspiration and craftsmanship.”

    Sean’s craft is both inherited and learned. His father was an artist and role model, building a stained glass business and later becoming a photographer. “My father instilled in me the desire to create things, and to fall in love with the process of whatever it is that you’re doing.” So Sean grew up drawing, designing, building, skating, and surfing. His passions culminated in a business making furniture and skateboards. “I love the idea of wabi-sabi: finding beauty in imperfection, in things that change. That’s what I find in wood. Every piece has a life and a story that it tells through the grain.” And like Matt, being part of the ocean culture and community is essential for Sean. “The ocean plays a vital role in who I am and what I create. I’ve designed my life around it.”

  • February 15, 2017





    Interior Designer Brooklyn, New York


    Interior Designer Hawai'i Kai, Hawaii

    When Michelle Jaime was a young girl growing up in Oahu, her father had an old van they called Betty Blue. On the long drive to her grandmother’s house on the North Shore, Betty Blue would reliably overheat and they’d always pull over in Mililani Town—then a new suburban development. Michelle spent hours there exploring empty model homes. She’d pretend the houses were hers and dream up color schemes and place furniture just so. “That made me think about how space affects somebody,” she said. “Whenever I see a blank canvas or a place that needs renovation, I love to sit there and think about what I’d do.”

    Now a rising star in the Honolulu design scene, she connects people with the built environment through the rich narrative of Hawaiian experience. “Culture is one of the first things we look at when we’re touching design,” said Michelle. “We try to find old-time stories that you can tell through design. We look at all the Hawaiian folklore, landscape, music, and traditions.” From hip Waikiki hotels, to historic theater renovations, Michelle is one of the leaders of the design conversation. She comes to New York City once a year or so to check in on clients and get a little taste of the creative juice that flows from this singular town. This time she came to meet up with local designer Larah Moravek, to share thoughts on method and influences, and to wander around the city with fresh eyes soaking up the kaleidoscopic cultural landscape.

    Larah has lived and worked in New York City for 15 years—she finds the diversity and accessibility addictive. “It inspires big and little things every day the minute you walk out the door,” she said. Larah and Michelle swapped design ideas, poked around vintage shops, and ventured out to Coney Island. For Larah, the most powerful source of inspiration has been finding nature in the city—whether it’s gazing out over the East River, or paddling into the surf at the Rockaways. Like Michelle, Larah sees interior design as an exercise in human connection with a physical space. “I learned from Michelle more about the importance of having a narrative behind our designs,” said Larah. “It’s those kind of rules we continuously must come back to, no matter the design problem.”

    As the two chatted and strolled, they found their worlds overlap in more ways than they expected—they even have a friend in common. “I think aloha is all about connectivity,” said Michelle. “And actually, New York is totally all about that.”













  • February 14, 2017




    Hawaiian Lifeguard Hale'iwa, Hawaii



    Whitewater Riverguide Twin Falls, Idaho


    Kamu Davis hails from Oahu’s North Shore, where he has built his life around the ocean, makes a living as a lifeguard, and strikes out on travelling adventures whenever he can. He knows well the power of raging water and has saved countless lives. He shares his infectious aloha far and wide—especially children with autism he pushes into waves with Surfers Healing. “That’s food for the soul,” said Kamu. “My grandfather taught me to be warm and helpful, to share what we have. I feel like I bring a little bit of Hawaii everywhere I go.”

    Recently he found himself in a raft, paddling down the Payette River in the Idaho mountains with local waterman and outdoorsman Kyle Smith. Kyle welcomed Kamu for a taste of the river life— crisp mountain air, fly fishing, and roiling rapids at Howard’s Plunge. Kyle grew up navigating these waters and became a river guide at 18 years old. Like Kamu, he’s brought his deep affection for the river to people with a range of disabilities, guiding everyone from veterans with Wounded Warriors, to quadriplegic kids.

    Kyle knows every rock and eddy, every calm sanctuary on the bank, and as a swiftwater rescue guide, much like Kamu, he’s pulled many visitors from the brink of tragedy. Every spring, when the snowmelt reaches its peak, this river turns wild—like big wave season on the North Shore of Oahu. “Water is definitely his element, and it’s mine too,” said Kyle. Salty or not, the water unites. “It’s hard to even call it work if it’s something you love,” said Kamu. Whether it’s way up in the green hills of Idaho or along the rocky ledges of Oahu’s North Shore, the healing power of water, and the aloha spirit transcends.

  • February 14, 2017



    In the deep blue waters, far off Haleiwa Harbor on the North Coast of Oahu, there’s a special spot on a sandbar ledge that teems with sharks of all variety — galapagos, sandbar, hammerheads & the occasional tiger. This is where Kaiwi Berry scattered his grandfather’s ashes fifteen years ago, the place the old man showed him when he was just a boy. “I grew up as an infant on the dashboard of his boat,” said Kaiwi. “It’s just something you’re born into here. I remember them congregating around us, so as far as you could see on the surface was sharks.”

    Kaiwi works as a North Shore lifeguard, though these days he spends most of his time leading visitors out on his boat for deep pelagic dives and shark tours — to his grandfather’s old haunts. When Kaiwi catches a glimpse of a tiger now he feels his grandfather’s presence, the unmistakable tug of the ‘aumakua — the spiritual protector of a family. Recently Saiward Turnbaugh joined him to get a glimpse into his world, the special relationship he’s developed with these misunderstood animals, and the aloha he shares with anyone aboard his boat. Saiward maintains the aquarium on Roanoke Island in North Carolina and like Kaiwi, spends every day with sharks. Kaiwi and Saiward may not share the same sea, but they have a fundamental kinship — they’ve both devoted their lives to inspiring others to care for the ocean’s most feared fish. “They’re the keystone species of the oceans from which everything relies on,” said Saiward. “Without sharks, the oceans would actually crash.”

    Kaiwi’s instinctive knowledge of shark behavior can’t be taught in books. “It’s nothing you can learn from sitting in a lecture,” said Saiward. “He watches them, studies them, and knows their actions and how they’re responding to people. He definitely fits the description of a scientist.” Human apathy is the biggest threat to shark conservation and Kaiwi works to educate visitors on the importance of these apex predators. His aloha spirit in fact makes our oceans a healthier ecosystem — visitors take this aloha home with them anywhere. “We’re training people to better understand the island, the water, the conditions, and the inhabitants of the ocean,” said Kaiwi. “People come to Hawaii and there’s not a place for them to go and learn these things. It’s up to us, the people who know it, to pass it on.”

  • February 14, 2017





    Oceanic Navigator Oahu, Hawaii



    Musician New Orleans, Louisiana


    At first glance, New Orleans and Oahu couldn’t seem farther removed, separated by far more than an ocean and thousands of miles.

    Look closer though and you’ll find both are defined by traditions handed down through generations and a welcoming and joyful spirit. Austin Kino from the south side of Oahu, and Calvin Johnson, New Orleans native, met recently to explore each other’s home base, walk in each other’s shoes and share stories of these special places defined by generational legacy.

    In New Orleans, Calvin—proud third generation jazz musician—introduced Austin to the city he loves: a feast of music, creole food and vibrant street life. They explored the French Quarter, snacked on beignets and gator bites and soaked up the music that saturates the city. “I wanted them to experience what we do, the kind of music that’s our music, our folk music,” said Calvin. “That’s the family business. I’ve got music on both sides of my family.” The sound of New Orleans gets into your bones. On a stroll through Jackson Square, they bumped into a band Calvin knew and he grabbed his sax and jumped right in. It’s the evening though when this town truly comes alive. Later that night, Calvin and his sax whipped a club crowd into a frenzy. “Everyone was up out of their seats,” said Austin.

    Austin grew up surfing, swimming, and paddling near Waikiki, just like his grandfather. These days he’s a crewmember on Hokule‘a, the legendary double hulled sailing canoe of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. Over many years he has apprenticed in traditional wayfinding—instrumentless navigation—and has crewed aboard Hokule‘a during its current historic Worldwide Voyage. “What separates us who are learning from the masters is being confident of that feeling of the boat underneath your feet, hearing the water on the side of the hull,” said Austin. “To be able to re-center yourself to that alignment is a really, really refined skill.”

    Calvin and Austin flew from New Orleans—music still ringing in their ears—to the Big Island for the insider’s tour: snorkeling, star gazing and a visit to the workshop of the Makali‘i voyaging canoe. Calvin peered deep into the waters of a secluded cove and marveled at the riot of colorful shells, coral and fish to be found in the depths. Not a natural ocean swimmer, he followed Austin’s lead into the shimmering blue. “If you’re gonna ever live, that was the place to live,” Calvin recalled. At sundown, off in the distance, a whale and her calf breached, the clap of her fin on the water echoed around the cove. The next day from above the clouds on the top of Mauna Loa, Calvin watched the light fade and the stars emerge. “Man, it was just gorgeous,” he said. “That was the clearest display of the galaxy I’ve ever seen.”

    With a broad world of opportunities, both Calvin and Austin followed paths forged by their forbearers. “This is a unique place where a lot of the history and culture and customs are in the people,” said Calvin of his hometown. He recognized this on the Big Island as well. “There’s a high respect for tradition, and for mentoring relationships and for the oral transference of history,” he said. For Austin and Calvin, these traditions are gifts—treasures to be passed down and shared freely with visitors.

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