The Coolest Jobs in Hawaii
What do you daydream about when you’re at work? Surfing? Shopping? What if you could do it for a living? This month, we found 11 lucky people who get paid to do what many would do for free.
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While most surf enthusiasts have to squeeze in sessions before work or on the weekends, for professional surfer Megan Abubo, clocking in means hitting the beach.
“On a typical day, if I’m at home and the waves are good, I’ll wake up, eat a quick bite and go surf for a couple hours. Then come in for lunch. And then I’ll go back out again.” When the waves are flat, she’ll take her standup paddling board out for a spin, or just hit her home gym.
It’s a routine she’s been doing for awhile; Abubo has been surfing professionally since the age of 16 (she’s 31 now), racking up six Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour victories along the way. She’s currently sponsored by Roxy, Hawaiian Island Creations, Kicker Audio Systems and Sticky Bumps—in return for competing and acting as an ambassador for the brands, she gets not only a paycheck, but free surfing gear and travel to surf spots all over the world.
“This year, I went to Australia, California a couple times, Portugual, South Africa, Mexico,” she says. Up next? Peru. She’s slowed her pace lately, but used to spend nine to 10 months out of the year on the competition circuit.
For Abubo, that travel has been the best part of her surfing career. “I love that I grew up on a little island in the middle of the Pacific, but because of surfing, I have very open eyes to the rest of the world. It’s something not many people get to do.”
John Walsh is surrounded by more than 17,000 gallons of beer at Hawaii Nui Brewing Co., a good portion of which he made himself. As a brewer for the small craft brewery in Hilo—the only Hawaii brewery that both produces and bottles its beer locally—Walsh is responsible for every aspect of the brewing process, from “grain to glass,” including tasting the beer every step of the way.
“You need to be aware of your beer at all times, know where it is, what it tastes like and know its styles,” says Walsh, who made the switch from managing editor of an Arizona newspaper to brewer four years ago.
But that doesn’t mean he hoists cold ones all day. “I spit the beer, I don’t swallow it. Maybe at the end of the day I’ll try a sample. Sometimes I have tastes at 6 a.m., so if I line up five samples, it could be a recipe for trouble,” he says. Instead, he relaxes with a bottle at home or during trips to local beer festivals.
Brewing is a precise science and Walsh is its liquid alchemist. He begins with wort, unfermented beer, and, after several steps, transfers the liquid to the brew kettle and boils it for 60 to 90 minutes. After adding hops, the last step is fermentation of the yeast and the wort. It can take up to 16 days to brew ale, and at least 30 days for lager. “It’s great seeing somebody enjoy a beer I’ve made. If I see somebody at a bar, or grabbing a six pack of beer that I brewed, that’s awesome.”