From helping beginning surfers catch their first wave to taking in the beauty of Diamond Head and the joy of sharing ukulele lessons with little ones, we chatted with Honolulu's own Tammy Moniz on what she loves most about hanging out in Waikiki—and the power of surf.
(OR) Surfing has been called the ‘Sport of Kings’ and then Duke Kahanamoku founded modern surfing right here on Waikiki Beach. From your experience, how has surfing evolved to become a sport for all?
(TM) When surfing was a sport of Kings and on to Duke Kahanamoku, the boards were made of solid wood that was 200 to 250 pounds of board. As Duke traveled to California and Australia for the Olympics, he would build these boards there. The weight of the board would bring limits to who could surf and how they would carry their boards to the ocean. The progression started when new materials were made and the boards were made a bit smaller and more mane gable. Now, you can buy a brand new surfboard at Costco for $125 that is easy and safe to ride, making it available for many people to purchase and try out on their own.
(OR) How did you get started in surfing yourself? What has kept you excited about it throughout your lifetime?
(TM) I started when I was 20 years old when I started working at Local Motion surf shop on Kapiolani. I started on a short board which was very hard to learn, and I did not have an instructor like myself teaching me, ha! It sure took a long time till I could stand, unlike any of my students who stand on their first lesson! For me, I enjoy all aspects of surfing. I enjoy surfing myself (only on small, perfect waves), and I enjoy watching my kids surf or compete throughout their little lives. I just started surfing more regularly during this COVID season because my daughter, Kelia, has been home this year and her best friend, Tiara, started surfing and has the surf stoke—so that pretty much forces us to surf with her and it has brought the best times surfing together and learning more techniques!
(OR) Your Faith Surf School is now known as one of the best. For travelers not yet familiar with the school, how is your approach to teaching different? And how are your offerings different during this unique time, if at all?
(TM) Our passion [at Faith Surf School] is surfing. And we are so proud of the legacy that Duke Kahanumoku left us, and we really work hard to continue to share aloha to others. It is very important to us that visitors get a true taste of the beauty we share in surfing. The happiness, freedom, and joy we feel when we ride on the gently rolling Waikiki waves to waves with more consequence. It is all the same stoke. And we hope to pass it along!
(OR) What are some of your most memorable moments teaching people to surf?
(TM) My most memorable is when someone comes to me super fearful and apprehensive, and I get to take them and slowly work with them until they stand and are elated. It could be a 73-year-old local grandma who always dreamed of surfing, finally bought herself a lesson, and came back at least 10 times—and then ordered her own board, bought a new car that she could put a surf rack on top, and changed her license plate to “Surfette." Or a fear-stricken 6-year-old who had a bad experience, and I get to help her have a love for the ocean again!
(OR) Your family has always been a large part of the local (and global) surf scene. What are some of your favorite highlights of your family members’ time on the surf circuit and beyond?
(TM) Oh my there are way too many. In general, traveling together as a family to California every year for the National events was always amazing. As time progressed, traveling with my daughter when she won her first World Title in China was incredible! And going with my son, Seth, and watching him at the top level of surfing (championship tour) as well as every year for the last 8 years watching my sons compete in the North Shore for the Triple Crown of Surfing is so exciting!
(OR) You’ve had a long-standing connection with Outrigger Resorts. What do you love most about your location and connection to the area and the resort?
(TM) The Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort is our DREAM come true! When we first started our surf school, we would look down the beach and always say how we would LOVE to be there, and yet it seemed impossible. So when we got that offer to work our business with them, it was unimaginable. Till this day, every time I walk to the beach, seeing Diamond Head and the surroundings, I am in awe.
(OR) Beyond surf, you’re also a ukulele teacher. How is that experience different from (or similar to!) teaching surfing?
(TM) Well, in surfing if I have kids under 8 years old, I can only have 1 or 2 of them at a time. But in ukulele, I’ve had up to 15! So you can think for yourself what that experience is like, hahah! I’m joking, I do it because I love music and I love the kids I teach. The kids' parents are all my closest of friends, and it gives me so much joy to possibly pass down the beauty in music.
(OR) On that note, tell us more about the kids’ album you just worked on, and where can we find it?
(TM) The song I recorded of the kids is called I LOVE HAWAII (you can read the "about 'I LOVE HAWAII'” at keikimele.com). You can also log on to KEIKIMELE.com to see the video, download a PDF of the words and chords as well as a tutorial for how to play "I LOVE HAWAII" on ukulele.
(OR) Anything else you’d like to share with us?
(TM) Let the children sing! :)
We invite you to learn more about Tammy's surfing and music adventures on her Instagram.
Feeling beach ready? We think you might like this special offer, inspired by Duke himself.