Along a hidden stretch of reef located just outside Honolulu, Seth Moniz slowly swims on the ocean’s surface, scanning for something among the coral to put on his family’s table. When he spots an uhu—a Hawaiian parrotfish—he carefully inches closer and takes aim with his spear. Every movement is slow and deliberate, and the fish is wholly unaware of Moniz as he slowly squeezes the trigger. It’s all over in an instant. Tonight, he’s bringing home dinner.
When most young pro surfers look at the ocean, they see ramps, barrels, and lips. They see waves, or, God forbid, scoring potential. When Seth Moniz looks at the ocean, however, he sees something more.
“In Hawaii, it’s one thing to just be a good surfer,” says Moniz. “There are tons of good surfers out here. But I really want to be more than just someone who’s good at airs or charging big waves. I want to know how to fish, how to read the swell, and how to dive. That’s part of what makes Hawaiian surfers so unique. We know the ocean. To me, that’s what is most important.”
At just 16 years old, Moniz is quickly becoming the embodiment of the Hawaiian waterman. And while he has proven himself to be an incredible young surfer and competitor, claiming an NSSA Nationals title last year, his main goal isn’t just to win contests, but to develop a deeper understanding of the ocean.
With one of Hawaii’s greatest surfing pedigrees, it’s clear from where Moniz derives both his wisdom and talent. His father, one-time World Tour competitor Tony Moniz, is a respected waterman who runs a surf school on Oahu’s South Shore. And, like Seth, his siblings—Micah, Josh, Isaiah, and Kelia—are all exceptional surfers in their own right, with Kelia holding two world titles in women’s longboarding. When Moniz enters the water with his brothers and sister, whether they’re pulling into Backdoor drainers or hunting for rampy sections at Rocky Point, it’s obvious that they are constantly pushing each other to new heights.
“Whether it’s surfing, diving, or fishing, the ocean is a huge part of our lives,” says Moniz. “It brings us all together, and I know that there’s so much more to it than three turns to the beach. As Hawaiians, knowing about the ocean has always been part of our past. And I want that knowledge to be part of my future.”