Sea Change

How do you swing a great job in the islands? Ask these five guys, all of whom have figured out how to balance a career with the relaxed lifestyle of the Bahamas.

Sea Change

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Vintage hat; Retro Fit Short Sleeve Vintage Washed Pique Polo ($92) by Lacoste; Bounced Cheque jacket ($150) by Original Penguin; Original 501 Jean Cirrus Wash ($58) by Levi's; Era shoes ($52) by Vans

 

 

 

Chadrick Hepburn

Chadrick Hepburn

"I was in finance for eight years," says Hepburn, "but it wasn't satisfying. Now, if the job isn't giving me something for my soul, I don't want it." Fortunately, Hepburn, who grew up on the island of New Providence "wondering why cougars and elephants weren't stomping around" his native islands, was able to turn his childhood curiosity into a new career. For the past eight years, the 37-year-old has been a guide for Grand Bahama Nature Tours. Now, a day at the office entails beach cruising on bikes, sea kayaking, snorkeling, or taking guests on jeep safaris to spot the local red-legged thrushes and pipers. "I just wanted to share my passion for the ocean and the islands," Hepburn says. "Getting paid for it? Well, I'll take that, too."

Vintage hat; Rugby Badge Polo ($98) by Canterbury of New Zealand; Washed Khaki Short ($42) by Dockers; Hybrid shoes ($48) by Sanuk

Ryan Russell

Alex Korch

"The locals utilize the water," says Nassau native and tenth-generation Bahamian Russell, "but only the beaches that are very accessible by land." Armed with this knowledge, Russell and his older brother, Brooks, decided to launch their own business, High Seas Bahamas, a luxury charter service that specializes in private excursions. "We started with one small boat and no overhead," says Russell. "Now, we've purchased a larger boat and can take 20 of your closest friends to secluded beaches with cabanas, kayaks, and fresh conch salad." And after just four years in business, Russell, 28, can rattle off an impressive list of celebrity clients, including Janet Jackson, James Gandolfini, and Aerosmith. "If I tried to go to Florida and start this operation, there would be 1,500 other people trying the same thing," he says. "Here, there are avenues that have never been explored. That's the beauty of the Bahamas."

Slub Long Sleeve Granddad Tee ($84) by Scotch & Soda; Washed Cargo Short ($46) by Dockers; Fraid So flip-flops ($38) by Sanuk

Aztec King

Ryan Russell

As the de facto activities director on the 82-foot yacht Equinox, one of the most luxurious in the Bahamas, King (yes, his first name really is Aztec) has to be a jack-of-all-trades. Depending on the trip, he might be asked to guide snorkeling excursions to Staniel Cay's Thunderball Cave or nature tours of the protected Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Or take clients to feed sharks, iguanas, and stingrays. All of which is second nature for King, who grew up boating with his dad off the nearby island of Nassau. And while the 25-year-old has lived abroad—he went to culinary school in Toronto—he prefers the laid-back lifestyle of his native islands. "In the Bahamas, you can walk through town with a beer and no shoes. Your gray hairs go away down here."

Serpico sunglasses ($119) by Smith Optics; Los Patos shirt ($55) by Quiksilver Premium; Beige Cotton Sport Jacket ($470) by DKNY; Standard Fit Denim jeans ($55) by Gap; recycled and organic Castaway sandals ($35) by Body Glove

David Hocher

Aztec King

The 80-person island of Staniel Cay—a tiny spit of land among the inlets and cays that extend north from Exuma—is a pretty great place to be a kid. Just ask Hocher, 38, who grew up 300 yards from the resort his family owns, the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, a nine-bungalow hotel with a marina, restaurant, and private air service. "Freediving and spearfishing were a big part of my childhood," he says. "Snorkeling, walking to the other side of the island to find an empty beach—I basically did all the same things our guests do now." Hocher wasn't always set on taking over the family business, but after earning an M.B.A. and spending three years as a banker in New York, he reconsidered. "Friends were like 'Hell, that's a no-brainer.' "

Vintage hat; Printed Button-Down Shirt ($65) by Lucky Brand; Jack Dark Pipeline Wash jeans ($216) by True Religion; Largo sandals ($60) by Sperry Top-Sider

Alex Korch

David Hocher

Calling Vancouver native Korch ambitious is an understatement. At 18, he was the best junior tennis player in Canada and ranked 157th in the world. But after playing on the pro circuit for nearly four years—an incredible but not necessarily financially rewarding experience—he decided to call it quits and start teaching. Last year, he became the director of tennis at the Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma at Emerald Bay, which leaves plenty of free time for his other passion: kiteboarding. Now 26, he's seriously gunning to become the fastest Canadian kiteboarder in the world. "The guys doing freestyle moves—they're all under 20 years old," he says. "But there's a speed world tour, and that's what I'm interested in."

Warden sunglasses ($110) by Oakley; Short Sleeve Placket Shirt ($79) by Sean John; Washed Cargo Short ($46) by Dockers; watch, model's own

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