By Caroline Farley
Growing up on the North Shore of Kaua‘i, Evan Valiere has lived the dream his whole life. He started surfing really young, and turned professional in his teens. By the time he was 20, he made the cover of Surfer Magazine.
Throughout his career, he has won contests, earned a reputation of a Pipeline specialist and a bona fide big wave charger, and has graced the cover of several publications, always pulling into a giant barrel.
Now, at 32 years old, Valiere still surfs professionally in select contests, but he has shifted his main focus to share his love for the sport of surfing through his business, Hanalei Surf School.
“There is nothing like riding a wave, and experiencing this with my students, for many, their first time, is so special,” said Valiere, adding the happiest part of the lesson is when someone “just gets it, and they put it together all the way through.”
Valiere and his staff offer surfing and stand-up paddle surfing lessons in Hanalei Bay, a place Valiere spent a good chunk of his early days fine-tuning his surfing skills.
“We operate anywhere where the waves are in the bay,” Valiere said. “Hanalei is my favorite spot to surf at on the island, and I am really lucky that I get to make a living out of what I love.”
Hanalei Surf School books lessons individually or for groups. The lessons last about two hours, and all instructors are experienced or professional surfers.
Each lesson begins with a warm up to familiarize students with water safety, instructions on how to paddle, stand up, turn and maneuver the surfboard, how to read the lineup and ocean currents, and an introduction to proper surf etiquette.
Once the basics are covered, students paddle out to catch waves, always under the guidance of the instructor.
Valiere said the equipment offered at Hanalei Surf School is top of the line and very user friendly so beginners have a chance to succeed. They have intermediate and soft-top surfboards. The company also provides rash guards for students.
GoPro cameras are available to be mounted securely on the surfboards, so students can capture high-quality photos and videos. After all, catching a wave for the first time is a one-of-a-kind experience, and documenting it is something to cherish, Valiere said.
Hanalei Surf School also offers a unique feature. Several stand up paddleboards and surfboards have been equipped with waterproof LED lights strapped to the bottom. The lights have different fluorescent colors and can be set up to pulse in sequence.
“Paddlers can set the lights up like a rave or stay on one color. The choice is theirs, and there are many options,” Valiere said.
Those boards are available for rent, and customers can take them out at night and return them the next morning.
Another unique service provided is Rent-a-Local, where a trusted local takes small groups of visitors to different activities throughout Kaua‘i. Depending on each party’s specific preferences, they can take photo tours, go snorkeling, hiking, fishing, kayaking and more.
Later this year, Valiere will put on the contest jersey again, when he goes to O‘ahu to compete on the prestigious Hawaiian Triple Crown of Surfing, including the Pipeline Masters.
Hanalei Surf School is at 5-5080 Kuhio Hwy. in Hanalei Town. Coming from Princeville, it is the third building on the right side of the road, past the Hanalei Dolphin restaurant and the Bike Doktor. Look for a large white Ford van with surfboards on the roof racks, in the parking lot facing Country Brokers Real Estate.
Visit www.hanaleisurfschool.com or call 826-WAVE (9283) for more information or to book a surf lesson.