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Malibu local & Seeababe Taylor Nelson finds new adventures in Hawaii

Raised on surfing the legendary First Point in Malibu, California girl and Seeababe Taylor Nelson thought she couldn’t get any more sun-kissed, bikini-blissed and surfed out — until she moved to Hawaii for University.

When you’re living on an island, you’re always on your way out or going into the water. “Since I have moved to Hawaii I feel like my bathing suit collection has tripled in size, and I can say that I have surfed in each one!” Taylor laughs.

The North Shore is more famous for its hollow barrels than soft point breaks and cruisey longboard-friendly waves and Taylor says leaving the nest for a new environment put her surfing, and her guts to the test. She may have grown up a bit, but her generous heart, glass-is-always-half-full attitude, and playfulness in the ocean hasn’t changed at all. We caught up with Taylor across the sea on how her California roots and Aloha spirit has made her who she is today.

Taylor Nelson and Hawaiian BFF Rosie Jaffurs on their way to find waves. Photo by Luki O'Keefe. 

Taylor Nelson logging in Hawaii, wearing the Hermosa in Tea Leaf. Photo by Alex Shea.

Taylor Nelson at home amongst the palm trees, in the Hermosa in Earth Waves. Photo by Mike Bresnen. 

What was it like growing up in a surfing family? 


Some of my first memories were surfing with my dad, sister and cousin at the Channel Islands and Ventura, Santa Barbara area. We use to go sail to the islands pretty consistently and the only way to get to the islands was by kayak or surfboard. My sister, cousin, and I naturally took a liking to the ocean and surfing and paddling around the islands are some of my fondest first memories. 

I got into surfing because my dad surfed. Every weekend he would take my sister and I to the beach and we both got so hooked on it. Surfing was huge part of my family growing up. It was a place where my family was able to connect and reflect on life. My dad helped start a surf ministry with my church, and that was such an important part of my childhood because I learned how to share my passion with the community. 

Who are some of your surf heros and people who you look up to?

Carla Rowland has been the most influential in my surfing style. All of the ladies at First Point in Malibu have been so influential on my surfing: Carla Rowland, Eveline VanBrande, Anna Osborne, Margaret Calvani, Andrea Kabawso and Erin Ashley. Britt Harris in Hawaii has influenced my surfing to charge bigger waves and Rosie Aldridge has helped push and encourage me and been a good new friend in Hawaii. 

The people I look up to most in life are my best friends; Moriah Mclead, Eveline VanBrande, Mary Gray, and Britt Harris for being such strong women, compassionate women, my boyfriend Tyler for having a huge heart for others and perseverance and passion for following dreams.

Taylor enjoying her island home. She wears the Palomar Crop Top in Tea Leaf. Photo by Alex Shea. 

What is some of the advice that these women gave you that stuck with you?

Some of the things that the women of Malibu taught me that stuck is that I, as women, can do it. I can make that section, I can stand up for myself, and I can surf! This go-getter attitude helped encourage me in all walks of life, from school, to dealing with family and relationships. I think what was special learning from these women that I couldn’t have learned from guys was a sense of encouragement; these women were excellent tangible examples for me growing up.

What are your favorite local spots to surf?

My favorite spot is my home break, First Point, Malibu. I love it because it’s a perfect right point break.

Surfing is a time where I can be still and reflect on my life. Surfing is a more important aspect of my life now as a college student then it has ever been because I can decompress and let loose. I feel most close with God when I am in the ocean and it is such a reminder of grace.

Taylor Nelson in the Zuma in Burgundy. Photo by Mike Bresnen. 

Did you grow up surfing with a lot of girls, or mostly guys?

I grew up surfing with mostly boys. Generally my best friend Eveline and I would be the only girls out in the water surfing. I absolutely love surfing with my best girlfriends because it is so encouraging and fun. I push myself more when I am surfing with girls than boys.

I think that girls naturally have a wall up to other girls that they do not know, especially new ones at home surf spots. Because of this natural barrier I think most women have, I prefer to surf with guys.

Congrats on graduating from college in Hawaii! What are your experiences surfing in Hawaii in comparison to California?

Wow, it is so different surfing in Hawaii compared to California. I did not realize how fortunate I was to grow up in Ventura County until I moved to Hawaii. Growing up at first point Malibu, big waves that pack a punch are pretty rare. If you know me, I am so stoked on small playful waves. Hawaii has totally toughed me up and humbled me. 

Never in a million years did I ever imagine myself feeling comfortable surfing or logging on the North Shore of Oahu. Waves in Hawaii have huge consequences and are to be respected. I learned that my first growing swell.

I really admire the surfing culture in Hawaii and the amount of respect people have for their elders and for the ocean.

Watching for the next set. Photo of Taylor Nelson by John Hook. 
The Hawaiian sunsets. Taylor Nelson drops in. Photo by John Hook. 
What are some of the coolest new experiences you've had in Hawaii since living there?
I think that moving to Hawaii has been the best season of my life, how the island of Oahu has truly taught me so many life lessons and how it has taught me about myself. Each hike I go on, every time I surf, to every sunrise and sunset I truly feel the Lord has unveiled my soul through the beauty Hawaii has to offer.

I took a Hawaiian studies class through my university. It taught the history of the Hawaiian islands, Hawaiians, and the culture that as been brought up because of the past. This class was mesmerizing and eye-opening. Hawaii has been one big adventure and I really have to thank all my local friends who have taken me under their wing and shown me around and have really pushed my surfing (Britt, Dusting, Rosie, and Keoki).

Taylor wears the Palomar Crop Top and Leucadia High Waisted Skirt. Photo by Ian Zamora. 

How you've grown as a person being away from home, and how Hawaii has become a part of you now?

Hawaii is the first place that I have decided to call home. The people that I have met while living on North Shore have become my family and it makes the thought of leaving this place unimaginable. As cheesy as this may sound, I think Hawaii helped me transition from being a girl to a woman, this island has a way of teaching you things about yourself that nowhere else in the world can.

Since moving here I have learned that you do not grow as a person until you are out of your comfort zone, the uncomfortable feeling of meeting new people and getting lost is humbling and I have learned this this awkward feeling helps you grow and be found.

Tell us more about the short film series, "We Rise" that you’re working on.

We Rise” is series of short clips that showcases female substance as it follows myself, Eveline VanBrande, and Anna Ehrgott. It is a demand for quality programming that honorably showcases strong, creative and inspiring women in alternative sports. Our current efforts are focused on building relationships and collaborating with independent surf communities around the world to create episodic content that communicates implicit meaning, supports a movement, and inspires within. Surfing is the common denominator that brought us all together. Whether it be longboarding at First Point Malibu and our collective love for the sea to encourage authentic women adventure content.

Taylor Nelson in the Zuma in Burgundy. Photo via @tayrosenels
What do you love about wearing Seea?

The thing that I really appreciate about wearing Seea is that all of them are elegant and conservative. So many times in the surfing society women loose functionality for style or style for functionality and with Seea you can have both.

Congrats on graduating college Taylor and on the next chapter of your life!
Rhea Cortado June 03, 2015 2 tags (show)

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