Ever wondered what’s it like to be an O’Neill Surf Pro? Well you’re in luck because we’ve got two of the hottest surf pros around gearing up to go on a Contiki!
We got the chance to interview O’Neill Surf Pros Malia Manuel and Kiana Fores to see what they can’t travel without, how excited they are about Costa Rica, and where they’d love to travel to next.
Tell us your background, when you began surfing, and how you became an O’Neill Surf Pro
Malia: Growing up in Hawaii you’re bound to surf. Surfing is more than just a sport here; it’s a lifestyle. Both of my parents surf, so I was taken to the beach at a very young age. I started to tandem surf with my dad at the age of 2. I entered in many competitions around the Hawaiian islands, since I was 8 years old. At 14, I signed on to the O’Neill surf team.
Kiana: Growing up on the beautiful North Shore of Kauai you are born into a beach lifestyle. It is a small island with many beautiful treasures. My dad was a surfer and it just was inevitable for me to become daddy’s little surfer girl. When I was about 10 months old my dad took me surfing and held me up with his teeth. I didn’t fuss or cry, i was completely content and as a baby I already was addicted to the ocean and soon surfing. I started surfing regularly at 7 and entered my first surf competition at 9. The Irons Brothers classic at pine trees. Andy being a huge inspiration, inspired me and my competing spark. I did it every year and made the final. Never won it but my urge to pursue this dream couldn’t be stopped. From then on I started competing in HSF and NSSA long boarding and short boarding. While all this I went to school. Graduated from the infamous Hanalei Elementary, where my mom taught and then went to a private middle school in my hometown Kilauea. My life was always busy and active. I played soccer, swam, playing ukulele, and of coarse surfing. I soon gave up soccer and focussed on surfing and school. Going to Kappa High school, one of three public high schools on the island, I participated in school activities and athletics such as cross country and swimming while still surfing. I went to my first NSSA nationals and got 4th in girls. Then at USA championships June 25, 2009 I met some of the O’Neill guys at the competition and got to put a beautiful black and white O’Neill sticker on the nose of my boards. I will never forget that day. Definitely one of the best days of my life so far. Ive been on Oneill for 4 years and its been such an amazing time and journey. I am so blessed and thankful for this opportunity I was given
As an O’Neill Surf Pro, what are some of your favorite places in the world to surf?
Malia: As an O’Neill Surf Pro I’ve had many opportunities to travel the globe to surf. Some of my favorite surf destinations include, Australia, Brazil, France, and Indonesia.
Kiana: As an O’Neill surfer girl I actually have not seen the world. I actually have never been out of America. Therefore, I am ECSTATIC to go on this trip with Contiki. It will be my first experience out of the US and Costa Rica will be the first stamp in my passport.
Where are your favorite places to travel and why?
Malia: My favorite place to travel is Australia, I enjoy the array of different waves there is to surf and the people are very friendly.
What is your funniest experience or story while traveling?
Malia: Some of my funniest memories traveling would be going to Indonesia with some team mates. It’s always so fun to travel with a group!
Kiana: Funniest story while traveling would have to be one time traveling on a red eye to California I fell asleep accidentally on someones shoulder, who was a complete stranger. I woke up and was so embarrassed. Luckily they didn’t mind and luckily I wasn’t drooling. Now I make sure if I fall asleep my head doesn’t go past the head rester.
You’re going on Contiki’s Costa Rica Unplugged tour. What are you most looking forward to seeing/doing in Costa Rica?
Malia: As part of Contiki’s Costa Rica Unplugged Tour I’m most looking forward to experiencing the culture, practicing my Spanish and catching a few waves in the warm water!
Kiana: I am SO so SOOO excited for this trip! Like I said it will be my first time out of the country! And I can’t wait to see and experience a different environment and culture. I am definitely excited to surf! Im a goofy footer and there is a really long left that I can’t wait to surf! But I am excited to see the towns and beaches and just the way of living there. It will be cool to see that not everyone speaks english. I can’t wait to explore and adventure with contiki and O’Neill girls.
What is one item of O’Neill clothing that you cannot leave without?
Malia: If I had to pick one O’Neill item that I couldn’t leave the house without, it would be my bathing suit!
Kiana: One item that I can’t leave without…. hmmm that’s a tough one! Definitly my denim O’Neill shorts, O’Neill hat or beanie and O’Neill bikini! My favorite one is the In love cinched bottoms and bandeau top! So cute! Love everything though.
How do you stay healthy and fit while on the road?
Malia: Its often difficult to stay healthy and fit while traveling. Sometimes I’ll travel with certain Superfoods to help my immunity. I also never go anywhere without my running shoes.
Kiana: Well other than surfing, I swim. I am on the swimmer team and currently I am trying to make state times. Swimming is perfect cross training for surfing, so it works out great. I also like to bike. I bike when not in swim training. I hate being still so I’m always active doing something. I don’t do yoga or zumba or anything but maybe one day ill get there. For now I have fun on my own adventuring, swimming, biking and surfing and some running. I also am a Dance fanatic. I just got the Xbox Kinect and me and my sister battle all night til we are dripping sweat and know the dances by heart haha. I also eat pretty healthy! I don’t have a strict diet or anything, but I watch what I eat. I have to admit I have a huge sweet tooth, so sweets are my weakness and peanut butter! Love peanut butter. But I eat fruits and vegetables, acai bowls, fish, Clif bars, tea, smoothies and oatmeal. I do participate in coffee but not all the time!
Why do you think it’s important for young people – especially young women like yourself – to travel and see the world?
Malia: I think any chance to travel the world is worth it. To experience different cultures can be life changing and humbling. It’s intriguing to grasp different habits and see how other people live their lives.
Kiana:I think it’s important because its a time to learn. And since we are young we should see whats out there and experience life before it gets too late. I have always desired to travel and see the world. Its my dream. I am so excited to go to Costa Rica!
What are your travel rituals?
Malia: Any chance I get to collect an item that reminds me of my trip, I usually try to find a ring or a necklace.
Kiana:Traveling rituals hmmm… I guess I will have to make one!!! Hahaha, for now taking lots of pictures! I love taking pictures and documenting everything! Maybe collect some Costa Rican Money!
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?
Malia: If I could travel anywhere in the world at this moment I would choose somewhere tropical!
Kiana:If I could travel anywhere right now it would be Australia! I want to go there so bad! See the Gold Coast and Sydney! Pick up an accent and learn some Aussie lingo! Haha, but I would also love to travel to Tahiti and Europe!