The Like-a-Local Guide to Oahu Life with Surfer Tara Michie

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It’s one thing to know that there’s more to Oahu than the crystal clear waters and lush views you’ve double-tapped on Instagram. It’s another thing to actually find those hidden gems, like where to get the freshest poke or catch some late-night music. That’s why, after we wrapped a recent photo shoot, we asked Hawaiian native, surfer and creative director Tara Michie—whose work includes directing ad campaigns for swim and surf brands—to show us exactly how and where to do Oahu like a local.

It starts with having an on-the-ground expert (like her).

“There’s nothing like growing up in Hawaii,” says Tara. “I caught my first big waves at the legendary Canoes in Waikiki. I studied design in the same university buildings my mom did. Now, as a creative director on photo shoots, I get to authentically capture this special place. And no one can recommend great spots like a local can.”

You don’t have to do the Hawaiian shirt thing. In fact, maybe you shouldn’t.

“Here, there’s a sense of wanting to look and feel effortless. Jeans, a white shirt, a unique hat…those are my go-tos. I’m constantly striving to be the island version of Parisian chic.”

You totally can learn how to surf in a weekend.

“The best way to learn is on gentle waves, and you can’t beat Pua’ena Point for that. A good longboard is also great for riding slow.”

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I designed this board with Travis Reynolds, an expert craftsman. It’s shaped to slow down on the waves—perfect for when I want to work on my style.

 Finding balance is key.

“One thing I do every day is get in the ocean, and most locals will tell you the same thing. It’s important to not get burned out doing what you love.”

The best local spots are the ones you may not know of. Here’s Tara’s must-visit list.

Breakfast smoothies from @WowWowLemonade

Spicy ahi bowls from @pupukeagrill

Live music at Surfer, The Bar’s open mic nights at Turtle Bay

Coffee and casual work meetings at @IslandVintageCoffee

Unrivaled beautiful sunsets at Sunset Beach

Surf lessons from Rosie at @NorthShoreSurfGirls (she really knows her stuff)

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My 1972 Datsun pickup is one of the riskiest and best purchases I’ve ever made. I bought it in Montauk, New York, and paid for it before I saw it. Her name is Lola, and we drove cross-country together.

At the top, Tara is wearing the Mara Hoffman® Low-Back One-Piece in Landscape. At the bottom, she’s wearing our Whisper Cotton Crewneck, 9″ High-Rise Skinny Jeans: Rip and Repair Edition and The Boardwalk Lace-Up Sandal.

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Photography by Angi Welsch.

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