Inside a Pro Surfer’s Idyllic Life in Under-the-Radar Hana, Hawaii
Did we mention Monyca Eleogram lives on an exotic fruit farm? In collaboration with Roxy.
If you’ve read one of those personal essays where the protagonist leaves behind the constraints of a 9-to-5 grind to live simply on a beautiful, far-flung island, and thought, “Yes, please” (so... everyone?), scenes from surfer Monyca Eleogram’s daily life will read like catnip to you.
Eleogram hails from Hana, Hawaii, a rural community in Maui where the population hovers just over the 2,000 mark (her parents came for their honeymoon and never left). Getting there entails a two-and-a-half-hour drive along the winding Hana Highway, resulting in a getaway that feels remarkably untouched, given its extreme beauty. And we do mean extreme: red, green, and black sand beaches, more waterfalls than you can count...
Eleogram (nee Byrne-Wickey) first started surfing at six years old before “taking it seriously” at 11 and going pro at 14 (by way of, oh, you know, a Nike Superbowl spot). And while Eleogram’s work with Roxy has taken her everywhere from Tahiti to France (the brand’s headquartered in dreamy Biarritz), Ireland, Indonesia, and Japan, she still calls the tiny town of Hana home. In fact, when she’s not catching waves around the world, you’ll probably find her at home (and this is where the idyllic-lifestyle envy kicks in), which is a working exotic fruit farm, with her husband, a fellow surfer and Hana local. They’ve known one another since they were kids, have been together for over a decade, and recently married in her parents’ backyard—yes, there’s a dog in the picture, too. You’ll also probably find the two of them making her killer guacamole (made with mammoth avocados from the backyard) or margaritas with fresh OJ. Hate to say we told you so.
“Hana is really this raw, natural place. It’s very rural, there’s not a whole lot of urban influence. It’s more like old Hawaii.
“I’ve played at Hamoa Beach since I was a little kid. I love going down there [when I get home from a long trip] and jumping in the water. That’s the most peaceful feeling in the world to me.
“When I was really young, I just played in the shore with my boogie board. Then, when I was six, I traded it in for a surfboard. I really started surfing every day was when I was nine, and started taking surfing seriously when I was about 11. I saved up to go to these all-girls surf camps—one on Kauai, one on Oahu. Just seeing a whole bunch of other girl surfers who have the same dream made it feel like it could be a reality for me.
“Roxy is the ultimate female surf brand because it’s not just a company that makes clothes; it’s like a sisterhood. Being a ‘Roxy girl’ is so different than just being represented by that brand. Being a Roxy girl is a lifestyle, and having a certain attitude about surfing: that the best surfers [are] the ones having the most fun. Kind of like that.”
“There’s a Thai food truck, tacos, Hawaiian-style barbecue, coconut candy for sale, a little coffee shop and jewelry gallery. It’s between my house and going to the other side [of the island] where we go shopping, where the airport is. A lot of the time, before we start our two-hour drive to the other side, we’ll stop there to grab a bite and coffee before we hit the road.”
“We were living at my parents’ when Ola [my husband] wanted to plant fruit trees, so we started planting and experimenting. It’s so incredibly fulfilling to grow your own food.
“When we were looking at properties to buy ourselves, we were mesmerized by the amount of food that was already here. We took two acres and completely planted it out with everything we wanted. We’re super into exotic fruits, because they’re delicious and not as easy to find.
“We talked to our friend, who’s on one of the biggest organic farms in Hawaii. He’s in his late seventies, has been farming forever, and gave us a couple tips and tricks. Ola spends nearly every night researching and watching YouTube videos about farming and organic fertilizers and everything like that. It’s just become a passion.
“One of my favorites is Jamaican Lilikoi—it’s a passion fruit, but really sweet. We also have Soursop. The skin is almost like touching a lizard, with this white stuff on the inside that’s like a combination of a mango, banana, and guava.”
Monyca’s Guacamole recipe:
1⁄2 a lime
3 cloves garlic
dash of Spike Seasoning
dash of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
pinch of cayenne pepper
Fresh Orange Juice Margarita recipe:
“It has to be fresh-squeezed orange juice, or this recipe does not work. You can obviously just squeeze a fresh lemon, but we usually go with a lemon ice cube (Ed note: made with frozen lemon juice!). We always make it in a jar so that we can just put a lid on it and give it a little shake before serving.”
1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1.5 oz Cazador tequila
splash of San Pellegrino
lemon ice cube
“I learned how to swim here. And my husband actually proposed to me down there. He took me for a picnic one day and popped the question. It’s just a place that I always bring friends who are visiting. It’s so beautiful and always a good time.
“It’s a very low-key surf scene in Hana, which is nice. As far as a female surf community, there’s only a couple of us, so that’s kind of challenging because you don’t have as many girlfriends to surf with. But ultimately it [was] positive for me, because I was always chasing the tricks that the boys were doing, and surfing the waves that they wanted to surf, which really pushed me harder.”
“My family has been playing croquet together for as long as I can remember. My parents have always been super social. Growing up, they’d have people over, make a couple drinks, then head out and play croquet. We’ve just been playing it for so long that I think we got a little bit bored. [My dad] and his friends spiced it up a little bit and made a super-duper hard [course]. So I don’t play with him anymore. [laughs]
“All of my friends and immediate family live here in Hana, but beyond that, the sense of community here is something I’ve never experienced anywhere else in the world. I go to the post office, and everybody asks how my mom’s doing. You go to the store with no shoes on and sandy feet, and nobody looks at you funny. Everyone knows each other, and it makes me feel really special and loved.”