Danny Fuller: When Fuller, 23, moved from Kauai to Oahu's North Shore at the age of 15, he had a mission: to make a name for himself at Pipeline. Fuller became such a fixture on the famous break that he landed a gig on the WB network's Boarding House: North Shore. He now lives in Venice, California, but still spends half his year surfing Hawaii or scouting the seven seas for monster waves. "There are certain things in life that make me happy," says Fuller, "and it's not money. Surfing may not be the most lucrative business, but I'm stoked."
Titus Nihi Kinimaka
Titus Nihi Kinimaka: No surfer is more synonymous with his hometown wave than the 50-year-old "Godfather of Hanalei." Although heÔøΩs more mellow now, Kinimaka is still king. No one paddles for his waves. Kinimaka developed his reputation in the mid-1970s, and his permission is still "required" before outsiders can surf certain spots. He owns and teaches at Kauai's Hawaiian School of Surfing, founded by his late brother, Percy, in 1960. "It's a blessing to be able to live this life," says Kinimaka. "I just follow my path and surf every day."
Sanoe Lake: Lake's bloodline traces back to the 18th-century King Kamehameha. Like so many Kauai kids, Lake, 26, started surfing as a toddler, but she moved to Oahu for high school. There, she surfed the North Shore and earned a gig as one of the original Roxy models for surfwear giant Quiksilver. In 2002, she costarred in the film Blue Crush. Lake now lives in Malibu. Her passion for acting and surfing "is like having two lovers," she says. "You're just torn in half. When you're out of the ocean for too long, you feel like a part of you is dying."
Andy Irons: This surfing superstar was raised in Hanalei and started catching waves at age eight. "I spent 90 percent of my childhood at the beach," says the 26-year-old. "In Hanalei, if you're not fishing, you're surfing. And if you're not surfing, you're barbecuing at the beach." This year, in pursuit of his fourth straight world title, Irons will have to hold off six-time champ Kelly Slater. But Irons knows how to escape the drama: "The ocean is so therapeutic," he says, "almost spiritual. Every time I get out of the water, I feel like I'm a better person."
Kamalei & Kala Alexander
Kamalei & Kala Alexander: Leading the charge of Kauai surfers is a group of locals called the Wolf Pack. The alpha male: Kala "Captain" Alexander (right), 36, made a name for himself by charging 30-foot faces at Hanalei Bay as a teen. "I grew up dirt-poor and didn't have anything," says Kala, now a pro surfer. "But out in the water, everybody is equal." His half brother, Kamalei Alexander (left), 27 and also a pro, shows the packÔøΩs softer side. "I'm the lover, he's the fighter," says Kamalei.
Rick & Leila Hurst
Rick & Leila Hurst: Rick, 36, introduced his daughter to the ocean when she was three. By age six, Leila was hooked. "Going down the wave and doing a turn is the best thing ever," she says. Leila, now 11, regularly surfs six- to ten-foot faces on a shortboard and is ranked third in the local league, where she competes againstand often beatsboys. Though Rick is an accomplished surfer, catching waves with Leila is his passion. "I would rather surf with Leila than ride the best waves of any size, anywhere in the world," he says.
Keala Kennelly: "It must be something in the water," says Kennelly, 26, of her hometown of Hanalei. "The community completely breeds surfers." She got her first board when she was five and was soon surfing with friends Andy and Bruce Irons. Given that pedigreeand that Laird Hamilton is her godfatherit's no surprise that sheÔøΩs a four-time winner of the pro contest at Tahiti's Teahupoo, one of the world's most dangerous waves. And Kennelly even has time for an alter ego. "DJKK" breaks out her turntables at clubs in Honolulu and abroad.
Bruce Irons: As a 3.5-pound preemie, Irons came into the world fighting. And the 25-year-old sibling of surfing world champ Andy Irons is still fightingto escape his big brother's shadow. Though he'd logged a few major wins, including the 2004 Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau big-wave contest, Bruce had a reputation as a bad boy more concerned with having fun than winninguntil Andy became world champion. "As soon as my brother won, I was like, 'Fuck! I've got to start focusing,'" he says. His goal now: wrestle the title from his brother.
Bill Hamilton: The adoptive father of big-wave demigod Laird, Bill Hamilton, 56, moved to Hanalei in 1971 to escape the growing crowds on Oahu. "The North Shore was beginning to lose its soul," he says. In 1975, when development threatened Kauai, he rallied a group of environmentalists who succeeded in saving the islandspecifically, Hanaleifrom a series of major resort developments. An iconic pro surfer in the sixties and seventies, Hamilton started shaping surfboards in '67, and he's still at it nearly 40 years later.
Next Up: Perfect Things: 2010 Editor's Choice