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mark healey

Interviews

In Conversation With Mark Healey

Born and raised in Hawaii, Mark Healey has devoted his life to the sea and has become one of the world’s top professional watermen. We spoke to him about his passions, his love for Hawaii, and the importance of sustainability.

Award-winning big wave surfer, spearfisherman, free-diver, conservationist, photographer, filmmaker, part-time Hollywood stuntman… and now Mark Healey can add Pelorus guide to his extensive resume.

Growing up on O’ahu, Mark was first introduced to the ocean at the age of three, led by his father out into the powerful Hawaiian surf. It was this incredible experience of nature that started him on his journey to continually find ways to explore, commune with and protect our natural world.

There’s no such thing as a typical day for Mark. Ever since earning his first surf sponsorship at the age of 13 and turning pro at 17, he’s competed at every big wave event under the sun and has an impressive list of victories under his belt. As someone who’s ridden some of the world’s largest waves, he has a profound respect for the power of the ocean and of nature.

As is to be expected with such an adventurous list of hobbies, each comes with risks and an incredible test of mind over matter. From shark attacks and blackouts to broken ribs and fractured kneecaps, he’s encountered his fair share of close calls. But, not the type to be discouraged, Mark considers each setback as a valuable experience.

mark healey hawaii
hawaii mark healey

What is it about Hawaii that has captivated you and led you to what you do today?

Hawaii is my birthplace and has been my home throughout my life. I’ve travelled around the world to tropical destinations, but Hawaii just has something that is unique. It’s hard to describe, but the word that stands out to me is “elegant”. The combination of its geographical remoteness, history, culture and natural beauty makes it just feel different. Also, it’s so environmentally diverse: Hawaii has 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones packed into a chain of eight main islands. It was the perfect place for a restless kid like me to grow up and I ended up making a career out of the things I love doing so much: surfing, freediving and hunting.

As well as a big wave surfer, you are a free diver, spearfisherman, conservationist, bow hunter, photographer and filmmaker. How do you incorporate all these elements into your work?

I’m able to take elements from all these pursuits and craft experiences that are totally unique for clients. That diversity in areas of expertise has given me the ability to work with the best professionals in multiple fields. If I need to bring in more HWO [Healey Water Ops] experts for a job, it’s people that I have actually worked with before. I know that not only are they competent, but also good people. That goes for specific activity instructors, cinematographers, photographers, captains, pilots, medical personnel, and chefs.

turtle hawaii

“Being a conservationist means that you don’t take more than can be sustained and that you make efforts towards trying to make things better. I don’t think we are separate from nature, but are a part of it.

Mark Healey

Why is the relationship between luxury travel and sustainability so important?

It’s important because the amount of resources that are drained for luxury travel (per person) is going to be a lot more than your average traveller if care isn’t taken. There is a way to do things sustainably without a giant impact, though. I think that’s another reason I chose to do adventure travel. It attracts people who value experience instead of just blind consumption.

What does sustainability mean to you, and what does that look like in your day-to-day life?

Sustainability in my everyday life starts with food. We mostly eat red meat I’ve hunted, fish I’ve caught, and fruits/veggies that my family or friends have grown. I design products with brands where a portion of sales goes to environmental organisations in Hawaii. I sit on the environmental grant board at Sitka Gear and have started a 5-acre farm which will be a non-profit to provide healthy produce to low-income communities here on the island.

I shop locally as much as possible and whenever I can I buy products that are not engineered to end up in a landfill within three years. Living on an island really brings the issues of needless importing, food security and waste management to the forefront, which I think are all environmental issues.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of being a father!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

You’ve got to slay a lot of dragons to get to the princess.

What’s your philosophy in life?

Do unto others what you would have them do to you.

What gets you up in the morning? What inspires you?

So many things! I think I’ve found ways to enjoy pretty much any weather condition that we get, so nature is providing a different opportunity all the time! 

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