The perfect surf instructor |

The perfect surf instructor

Alison Berkley

“Did you know more people get killed in Hawaii from getting hit in the head by coconuts than they do from shark attacks?” Surfer Mike said.We had bought a coconut at the fruit stand in Halalei like a week before and had no idea how to crack it, so it sat in the fridge where it probably would have remained long enough to sprout green fur had it not been for Surfer Mike.The whole time we’ve been here on Kauai, Super Mike comes over twice a day to give us all surfing lessons. It turns out that in addition to being the best-looking human being I have ever seen in real life, Mike the Beach God also literally walks on water, one of those surfers who moves with such grace and ease you almost forget he actually has feet. (Don’t believe me? Check out his web site: He’s got all these random skills and talents on the side (lifeguard, boat captain, furniture maker, artist, former nursery school teacher) and will bust out with thoughtful things like, “Anyone want to go donate blood with me today?” or “My mom makes the best oatmeal raisin cookies ever.”He stood there in the kitchen as if he had materialized from a computer-generated fantasy of the quintessential surfer boy, those little Greek god muscles peeking out from the waist of his low-slung surf shorts, blond eyelashes highlighted by the morning sun coming through the window. He stuck a screwdriver into that baby and cracked her open with one hand into two perfect halves (I’m talking about the coconut, of course).When a huge chunk of coconut meat fell off the spoon and slid down between my bikini-clad breasts, I looked Surfer Mike right in the eye and said, “Do you want to eat that or should I?”I didn’t really say that, but I wish I had. Like they say – hindsight is always 20/20.So I’ve been hanging out on the north shore of Kauai and my life goes something like this: wake up, go to a morning Bikram class at Yoga Honalei; drink a double soy latte at Java Kai; swing by the fruit stand for fresh mango, pineapple, papaya and bananas; surf, maybe go for a mid-afternoon run during the late-day rain and then surf again at five until beer-thirty. After beer-thirty I might take a little puff or two of k-bud (“k” being for Kauai, kind bud, killer and are-you-KIDDING-me?) and then giggle my way through a dinner of poki, seaweed salad and grilled ono or mahi.But my favorite activity has been trying to find even the slightest imperfection in Ocean Man. I’ve been chipping away at him all week trying to find a crack in his ridiculously perfect façade. “So, is it annoying when you have to teach beginners all the time?” I’d ask as we were bobbing around in the channel watching head-high sets roll in on the outside. “Like, when the surf is really good and you have to hang out on the inside with a bunch of losers from the mountains?””No, not at all,” he replied, his eyes sparkling off the sun’s reflection in the water. He’s got these blue eyes the exact same color as the Pacific and dimples that I wish I could crawl into and wrap myself up in so it would be like getting a hug every time he smiles. “I mean, I could be waiting tables, but I’m sitting out here in the ocean.”First, let me start by saying in my seven years of surfing I never had the luxury of a surf instructor, never mind a ripped blond with butt cheeks that look like two perfect, ripe honeydew melons (believe me I had plenty of time to think of good ways to describe those things as I paddled out behind him).He comes over twice a day and usually hangs out for dinner too. Unfortunately, his girlfriend – who weighs about 85 pounds with all her clothes on – comes too. The worst part is I really like her. She’s goofy and silly and smart, kind of like someone else I know.So when it comes to surfing, I’m pretty much used to getting my ass kicked. But in Hanalei, we’re on this comfy little bay and arrived during a flat spell so I was able to spend the first few days just paddling around on the longboard and getting my arms back. Mike taught me how to stand-up paddle, which is really fun and very Hawaiianish. I’m sure it’s a good core workout also.The swell started to pick up yesterday, so Mike took us out to a reef break called Middles that is probably 1,000 yards off shore and requires a long paddle, especially for someone like me who is sort of a lower-body-sports animal. Mike also let me take out the 6’10”, which was big enough to catch waves on but small enough to maneuver.So there I am out in the Pacific Ocean watching the sun set and moon rise, the purple and pink sky reflecting off the water and one perfect wave after another rolling through as if for our own personal enjoyment. It was perhaps one of the most perfect moments I have experienced in a long time.There’s something about being on the water that takes you away from it all and quiets the mind in a very literal way. All that noise, all those thoughts just fade away when you realize how small you are and how big the ocean is and you can actually sit there and be part of its power.This place, Kauai, is a truly magical place. I just hope I don’t wake up and find out that this was all a dream – that is, unless I woke up to find someone like Surfer Mike lying there beside me.The Princess can’t wait to show off her killer tan. Send your loving e-mail to

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