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WEST SIDE MUSINGS WITH SURFTOGRAPHER HA’A KEAULANA

Imagine if, on any given day, your biggest decision was to shoot or to surf? For Ha’a Keaulana, that’s exactly what she asks herself. Coming from a lineage of legendary Hawaiian watermen, Ha’a Kealuana’s connection to the ocean runs deep. It’s no surprise, then, that Ha’a has followed in her family’s footsteps—now riding her own wave of worldwide recognition thanks to her skills as a surfer and surf photographer.

Just like her father and grandfather, Ha’a has managed to create a life around the place she loves most—the water. She’s proud to hail from Mākaha—a charming town at the base of the Waianae Mountain Range, far removed from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu. Enlisting the help of lifeguards to get the perfect shot from their jet ski; paddling around with fellow Makaha girl, professional surfer Alessa Quizon; and going for a midnight surf session to ring in the new year are just some of the perks of growing up in the tight-knit west Oahu community.

Below, Ha’a talks about her inspiration, her favorite west side eatery, and so much more.

WHAT INSPIRES YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY? I would say that my main inspiration comes from ocean, specifically the west side and Mākaha Beach. So much of my family history has derived from the ocean, and if I am not shooting in it then I am surfing in it!

YOU’VE COLLABORATED WITH SOME OF HAWAII’S TOP BRANDS—WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PROJECT THUS FAR? I have had the honor and privilege of collaborating with a lot of different Hawaii brands. One of favorite projects thus far is my collaboration with T&C Surf Hawaii. My grandfather and father were sponsored by them, and now I am, so there is so much meaning to this partnership. I am always happy to support companies with the same values as my family.

ARE YOUR PRINTS AVAILABLE IN STORES OR ONLINE? IF SO, WHERE CAN WE FIND THEM? Yes! I have actually just created and online shop where I sell prints, totes and canvas clutches. This is a new endeavor for me, and I am so excited to be able to share my passion with others. Please visit www.haakeaulana.life.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD/THE WEST SIDE IN GENERAL? Waianae is very unfiltered and it’s real. What my dad always says is the west side is full of very passionate people. It’s very easy to gain respect, but it’s very hard to get it back when you disrespect. But people there accept you for who you are—no more, no less. I really love that about my home.

DO YOU HAVE A MORNING RITUAL? IF SO, WHAT DOES IT INCLUDE? Every morning I start with coffee of course! After I have coffee and a stretch, I head to Mākaha to check the waves. If I know there is a swell I usually have my surfboard in tow. Sometimes I bring my camera equipment and surfboard if I am not sure what the conditions are going to be, and make the decision at the beach: to surf or shoot?

YOUR GO-TO LUNCH SPOT? I usually pack something light and healthy for lunch to eat at the beach. My favorite restaurant on the west side is Kahumana Organic Farm! I am always stoked when I can make their lunch service as it closes at 2:30pm and then reopens for dinner at 6pm.

WHAT’S FAVORITE PLACE FOR DINNER? Kahumana

BEST BEACH: Mākaha Beach, of course!

FAVORITE SURF BREAK: Mākaha

HIDDEN GEM: I would say the hidden gem on the Westside is Kahumana. Every time we have guests we take them here for either lunch or dinner. It is such an amazing place to eat and visit. They use fresh farm ingredients every day! They also have the cutest shop that sells fresh greens and eggs from the farm. I always love to support local, especially with places that give so much back to their community.

all photos courtesy of Ha’a Keaulana. For more, visit her website 

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