The very first time I surfed California, a pod of dolphins and a pair of seals showed up for some surf shenanigans of their own. They splished and splashed just a few yards away from the lineup, where a handful of surfers eagerly awaited the next set. Slippery strands of kelp were strewn throughout the icy, olive-covered waters, hovering over that hairy limestone reef monster below. This was definitely not like any other surf sesh I’ve had back home in the islands.

Super-sunny SoCal weather pretty much summed up the day’s forecast. But why were my fingers and toes still so numb? We made sure to suit up in our very own seal suits, which, in itself took some getting used to. And apparently, so did my frozen digits to the chilly Cali waters.

It was the very first ride that made me quickly forget the cold, however. A long peeling left that came right to me; a gift from the Cali surf gods that reminded me of my favorite break back home. As I navigated through a bed of slimy kelp, I looked up at the towering San Diego sea cliffs ahead and couldn’t help but squeal like a little kid on a sugar-high!

My high, however, had been of a saltier mix. The nippy ocean spray brought me back to reality, as I kicked out of the wave and paddled to do it all over again. Surfing on the “mainland” wasn’t all that bad. Ironically, I had not been near the warm Hawaiian waters before our springtime trip (hence, my quickly fading tan). And there we were, sliding San Diego twice in one week, plus getting our tans back!

Shakas from the other side of the Pacific!

The California surf scene closely resembled that of Hawaii; the ocean attire that day, not so much. But everyone in the water seemed really friendly and just stoked on being out there; kind of like the aloha spirit of the islands. This welcoming vibe is definitely what helped my sister and I to feel at home across the Pacific because no matter if by land or sea, aloha always seems to find its way beyond our Hawaiian shores.


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