Lessons from a Hawaiian waterman with Brian Keaulana


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Brian Keaulana is a surfer, stand up paddle boarder, lifeguard and stuntman. As a descendent of Hawaiian royalty, Brian's ties to tradition shapes the way he lives his life.


Today’s guest is Brian Keaulana, a legendary waterman, who gave me magical advice at a pivotal point in my life. Born and raised in Hawaii, Brian grew up on the water near Makaha Beach, fishing, surfing, and spending time with friends and family near the ocean. He became one of the top lifeguards on the island, and is credited with not only creating the jet ski rescue sled, but also some of the first commercial stand up paddle boards. His heritage goes all the way back to Hawaiian royalty, and his insight into traditional Hawaiian values and culture has made him the ultimate mentor.

I met Brian in 2009. I’d just quit my job at the height of the recession to pursue a career in adventure journalism, and I talked myself onto a boat trip to the Mentawais, an archipelago of islands off islands off the coast of Indonesia, on the Indies Trader III with some of the best surfers and stand up paddlers in the world. The waves were bigger than anything I was used to in San Diego, and even though I was just there to write, eventually I just had to get off the boat and drop in. I was absolutely terrified, and kept falling while surfing. I was frustrated, but Brian shared wisdom with me in the water that not only helped me catch a wave that changed me forever, but has helped me in life to this day. There’s a picture of me catching the wave below. I have awful style, but the biggest smile.

A highly respected lifeguard and teacher, Brian advises all sorts of agencies around the globe on water safety practices, and also works as a stuntman and stunt coordinator on TV shows and movies filmed in Hawaii.

Above all, he’s Hawaiian to the core and a family man. He gives sage advice about respecting mother nature, giving back to his community and how to make it as a stuntman. I love the way he lives his life with intention, one where he not only spends a lot of time in the outdoors, but also honors his heritage, the land around him, and his community while teaching others to do the same.

Listen to this episode if:

  • You want to hear from one of the most legendary Hawaiian watermen ever.
  • You surf or do any water sport activity, or want to try but are scared.
  • You have been (or want to go) to Hawaii.
  • You’ve ever thought about being a stunt man.
  • You think it’s important to respect nature.
  • You want to hear a story of my life changing moment in Indonesia while surfing.

Subscribe to Wild Ideas Worth Living on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.

Photo courtesy of Dan Edmunds. You can find more of his photography on Instagram (@danafoto).

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  • https://www.rei.com/blog/podcasts/lessons-from-a-hawaiian-waterman-with-brian-keaulana
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