Surfer Anastasia Ashley on Big-Wave Surfing Hawaii’s Waimea Bay

Photograph courtesy Daniel Russo

January 20 and 21 saw the biggest waves of the winter to pound Hawaii so far. Those surfers who were skilled enough and brave enough waxed up their big boards and headed to spots like Jaws in Maui, Outer Log Cabins, Oahu, and, of course, the spiritual home of big wave surfing, Waimea Bay. While big-wave surfing has traditionally been a masculine activity, a few women join the lineup those days, including Adventure favorite Maya Gabeira and 23-year-old Anastasia Ashley. Ashley was born on the North Shore and now divides her time between the islands and California. Adventure got a hold of her for a first person account of what it’s like to paddle out and catch a few monsters at such a legendary spot.—Tetsuhiko Endo

ADVENTURE: When did you know you wanted to start riding Waimea?
Anastasia Ashley:
I actually didn't start surfing out there 'till last year, when I found an old board under my house that was left by someone—an old 7'10’’ big-wave board. Out of curiosity I wanted to try riding it because I’d never ridden a board that big. I took it out on a small day at Waimea and felt super under gunned, so I then decided I needed a bigger board. I ordered one from Rusty and have been stoked to surf the bay ever since.

What was it like paddling out for the first time?
It was definitely surreal seeing the waves from the water—they’re so big!

How do you mentally prepare yourself for any big swell?
Definitely by just being physically prepared. I always get a good night’s sleep and make sure to eat some healthy food to keep me powered.

Walk me through surfing a wave at Waimea Bay.
Being out at Waimea is pretty crazy. The paddle out is actually pretty minor, besides the initial shore break. but if you mistime that you can be very much screwed. The most intense part, on the other hand, is the drop. It feels like you’re dropping in forever! The wave behaves one way around 15 feet, but it definitely changes once the swells hit the 18-foot plus mark. It jacks up out of the deep water and turns really, really intense.

Maya Gabeira once told me that there is a certain loneliness to being a woman who rides big waves because you are constantly surrounded by men. What is your take on that?
I agree. I feel like that is true in any aspect of surfing, big waves and small waves. It's definitely a man's lineup. But I also think it's definitely changing!

Are you considering doing any more big-wave surfing this year?
Yeah, of course! It's all swell dependent, so I’ll hopefully surf a few more days out at Waimea, and some outer reefs.


  1. Shawn
    February 8, 2011, 11:55 am

    O its great Place for enjoying your holidays..

  2. Facts About Horses
    February 8, 2011, 1:07 pm

    yah. I want to be there someday and enjoy the waves.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. John the travel job hunter
    February 8, 2011, 3:56 pm

    I’m dreaming to be there and play on waves. I’ll be there someday….

  4. Erric
    March 6, 2011, 1:13 am

    Hawaii is somewhere i am dreaming to be
    but i am afraid that i will not try surfing
    i think it’s a little bit dangerous for me

  5. Steve A.
    March 6, 2011, 9:34 pm

    Totally a hottie! Wish that I surfed, or was in Hawai’i to see you enjoying yourself on the waves! I’ll just have to settle on the beaches here in SF CA, I guess. Have fun!

  6. Simon
    March 7, 2011, 7:58 pm

    Anastasia Ashley is the best thing for female surfing. Shes smart, beautiful and is a great role model. I can’t speak so well for some of the other girls trying to use there body for a pay check. Good luck in all your amazing accomplishments Ms. Anastasia Ashley.

  7. Calvin Klein
    July 21, 2011, 11:05 pm

    beautiful but dangerous travelling

  8. Jezreel Ricafort
    November 19, 2011, 10:42 am

    Anastasia Ashley is one of the sexiest surfer. She very talented and gorgeous. Surfing is one of the best exercise that can helps to our daily life to stay healthy, young and beautiful.

  9. Nadel
    November 22, 2011, 9:18 am

    i haven’t tried surfing yet. this sport is so cool, i wish i knew how to swim 🙁 there are great waves also in the philippines but not as big as in hawaii.

  10. fringe bandeau bikini
    December 21, 2011, 1:05 pm

    Get a fringe bandeau bikini for her !

  11. Surfing in Tahiti
    December 21, 2011, 2:53 pm

    Anastasia charges big waves for sure! Would be epic to see her charge big Teahupoo in Tahiti!