I gave up all hope of being a decent surfer long ago, but think I might regain some “Endless Summer”-cred on the paddleboard: apparently, if you can stand up, you can do it (even three-year-olds give it a go). But for professionals Jenny Kalmbach and Morgan Hoesterey, it’s not just fun and games—it's a mission.
Starting this month, Kalmbach and Hoesterey are boarding-their-way across Hawaii’s nine legendary open-ocean channels (some 250 miles) to raise funds for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, a Long Beach–based nonprofit. They’ll be trailed by two boats as a safety measure, but the journey won’t be easy: Kalmbach and Hoesterey will pass through the Alalakeiki Channel (a.k.a. the “Screaming Child”) and even end their trip with a moonlit crossing of the 85-mile-wide Kaieiewaho Channel (a leg that could take up to 20 grueling hours to finish).
What will they see along the way? “Being up so high, you spot everything,” Hoesterey says. “Turtles swimming underneath you, manna rays, and lots and lots of trash.”
It’s the waterlogged garbage that worries them both. “There’s still a lot to be done to keep plastics out of the oceans, and our goal is to raise awareness in people.” Keep watch over their adventure (and donate directly to the foundation) at Destination3.com, a website that’s tracking their journey in photos, videos, and blog posts.
“As a paddleboarder, I’ve seen some amazing things,” Kalmbach says. “Not too long ago, I watched a northern humpback whale breach (i.e. jump fully out of the water) just a few hundred feet from me. Once you've seen something like that, working to protect its habitat is the least you can do.”
Try paddleboarding yourself: In Honolulu, Hoesterey recommends Wet Feet Hawaii, where you can rent all your gear for $30 per half day. On the Big Island, Kalmbach says Kona Boys is the place to go—they’ll give you in-depth lessons on Kailua Harbor, where dolphins swim in droves.
Kathryn O'Shea-Evans is an assistant editor at Travel + Leisure.