Boards and Bellies: The Joys of Hapai Surfing

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Karla Saville

Among the numerous home remedies and tips for alleviating some of the hardships of a pregnancy, there is one pretty unconventional approach that can add a few more benefits to the equation. In Hawaii, it’s known as ‘hapai surfing’, which means “pregnant surfing”. Surfing is a meditative act that can bring rejuvenation and empowerment to a pregnant woman. To find out how, I interviewed Karla Saville, an adept surfer from Hawaii, who continued to surf for up to seven months of her first pregnancy, and four months into her second. After moving to Hawaii at a young age, Karla fell in love with surfing, traveled the world, and decided to bond with her children in a much different way that many women have. She briefly shared her take on why she felt like hapai surfing was beneficial to her and her two children.

Romeo: How long have you lived in Hawaii? Did you learn to surf there?

Saville: I moved to Hawaii when I was 26 and learned to surf then and there. It became a part of my life from then on. I traveled to Fiji, Mexico, Central America , France and Australia all because of surfing. I’ve also met so many inspiring women ( and men) who surf along the way and I’m proud to be a part of such an amazing tribe.
Romeo: When did you decide that you were going to continue surfing throughout your pregnancy?
Saville: I didn’t decide to continue surfing through my pregnancy as much as deciding to stop when it felt like the time to do so. With my daughter that time came at 7 months , she gave me lots of surf time. With my son I stopped at 4 months when I felt my weight was too much for him, but I still swam in the waves, it’s an amazing free feeling. Once I found my pregnant self surrounded by dolphins!
Romeo: Would you say that surfing helped alleviate any of the physical hardships of pregnancy? If so, which ones?
Saville: Surfing is a great way to keep moving and retain a fluid body and it’s fun sharing waves with your little one yet to be met! Between sets is a good time for contemplation and connection. I also swam in the ocean and practiced yoga. That combination gave me a happy easy pregnancy with no morning sickness or down time. The births of both of my children were relatively quick with no complications.
Romeo: Surfing is an activity that can keep anyone level-headed and at peace. How did surfing benefit you mentally through pregnancy?
Saville: While I was pregnant I surfed a big foam board towards the end, and it’s just so fun and playful surfing small waves on those blue
foamys! So that definitely is an added mental benefit! I still love the playfulness of the foamy!
Romeo: I’ve heard of women becoming more spiritual in any sense after being pregnant and/or having children, and with surfing being such a meditative act, I can only imagine the affect it would have during pregnancy. I guess what I’m asking is do you feel like surfing while pregnant allowed you to have a special bond with your spiritual self as well as your daughter? If so, explain.
Saville: Hmmm spiritual bonding. Yes. Especially with the first baby because everything is so new and completely different than anything else I’d ever experienced. So having my physical being creating and sharing space with another is an amazing feeling and , not to boast , but , what a fun vessel my daughter chose , is what I was thinking!



I’ve always been inspired by people who continue to surf in the midst of tragedy. But it is also empowering and inspiring to know that people like Karla Saville are so dedicated to the Ocean that they are willing to incorporate it into every season of their life. From what I know, pregnancy, though rewarding, is a very challenging experience, but I’m convinced that by adapting it into a lifestyle of surfing, you can learn unique lessons about yourself and surfing that could surprise you! I hope someday I can make the same decision as Karla when I find myself in her shoes.
Karla Saville


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Alexandra is an avid thinker, unrelentlessly intrigued by reading, writing, talking and learning philosophy. She values knowledge through experience and believes that true virtue is earned by seeking knowledge through self-discipline, awareness, and patience. Throughout life, determining truth within her spectrum of beliefs has been a prominent goal, and this is reflected in her writing personality. Alexandra first fell in love with the ocean during a group paddle-boarding session on her eighteenth birthday, and her desire to abide in the Ocean increased every time she picked up a surfboard that summer. Since then, she is only anxious when she is forced by life to take a break from surfing, but through writing, she is able to keep a strong connection with the waves and those who surf them.



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