Liz Smith has a knack for finding balance in her life. As the
marketing and public relations manager for the Maui Ocean Center www.mauioceancenter.com
, she’s among those fortunate
enough to perfectly poise passion with profession. Smith loves the
ocean and its recreational diversions, so living on Maui and
working for the island’s stellar aquarium creates her dream
“Since I always wanted to work at an aquarium, joining Maui
Ocean Center has been incredible,” she said.
Thanks to the nature of her recreational pursuits, Smith doesn’t
check her love for the ocean at the door when she leaves work.
“Growing up on a small island in the Pacific, you end up
spending a lot of time on the water,” she said.
As stand-up paddleboarding surged in popularity, Smith and her
husband tried it one day and bought gear the next.
This ancient Hawaiian mode of transportation has undergone a
renaissance with tow-in surfers latching onto it for off-season
training. Boards are typically longer, wider and thicker than
traditional surfboards, providing more buoyancy. And paddles have
longer shafts than those used for standard outrigger canoes for the
extra reach that’s required.
Smith considers stand-up paddleboarding easier than surfing and
“You’re already standing,” she said. “For those questioning
their balance or coordination, this should be easier.”
Case in point was a friend of Smith’s who had never surfed.
“He caught so many waves on his first time out! It’s so fun
because anyone can do it. And it’s good quality time to share with
others,” she said.
Recently, Smith did a downwind run from Maui’s north shore.
“You can stand-up
paddle with wind and a little chop as long as you head in the right
direction,” she said. “It’s similar to sailing since you’re working
with waves and current. You can also get good speed.”
Aside from the exercise, Smith enjoys the sightseeing.
“On the way to Lahaina a few weeks ago, I saw tons of whales
breeching,” she said.
Smith has also spotted ample turtles offshore on an outer reef
while paddling from Tavares Bay in Paia down to Sprecklesville.
“It’s just a great way to experience nature,” she said.
Smith finds a different exhilaration in each sport. With boat
sailing, she loves the movement.
“When you turn the engine off and put the sails up, it’s a
natural high,” Smith said. “There’s something with the movement of
the wind pushing the boat over the waves. There’s nothing else like
Smith views windsurfing as a more difficult and less social
sport that can’t be perfected.
“It’s a new challenge each time with different conditions of
wind and waves,” she explained. “There’s always something new to
Below the surface, Smith feels at peace when she is
“You’re in another world down there with different sights and
sounds,” she said. “I like La Perouse and Molokini.”
As for her dream day, Smith prefers a downwind stand-up paddling
run with dolphins and whales followed by a picnic or lunch at Paia
“That’s a day that’s hard to beat!”