Zak Noyle Profile by The Modern Honolulu Zak Noyle Profile by The Modern Honolulu

March 29, 2017

A Day in the Life: Zak Noyle, Big Wave Surf Photographer

ARTICLE TAGS: lifestyle

Spend the Day with the Professional Photographer and Discover Some of His Favorite Places Around Oahu

When it comes to surf photographers, Oahu’s Zak Noyle stands apart from your typical wave shooters. At just 31 years old, this respected pro travels the world in the coveted staff photographer position at SURFER Magazine — a renowned, high-profile publication in the surf world — and has captured international legends in surfing from Andy Irons to Kelly Slater and John John Florence. 

Zak has photographed some of the biggest waves to ever hit Hawaii, including 50-foot waves at Waimea Bay for the running of The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau on February 25, 2016. He was the only photographer authorized to be in the water for the full eight hours of “The Eddie” due to safety reasons and he captured some of the most memorable shots of the day with just his camera and his fins.

We had the chance to catch up with Zak prior to his Study Hall appearance to find out what a typical day looks like when he’s not traveling the world shooting epic waves.

5:23 a.m. Alarm goes off. Not 5:20, not 5:25, but 5:23 – always. I wake before sunrise and go to Sandy Beach to shoot photos in the waves as the sun is rising. The shore break at Sandy’s can be challenging and sometimes dangerous, so I do not recommend swimming here unless you are an experienced swimmer.

It’s definitely worth renting a car and taking a drive along the south shore. There’s Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve close by, a marine sanctuary that is home to many different types of tropical fish and marine life. It’s one of the best places to snorkel on Oahu. If you don’t rent a car, there are tour operators that can take you there.

8:27 a.m. Breakfast at Moena Café in Hawaii Kai. This place is one of my favorites. I love that they offer local dishes using fresh local ingredients and serve it up local style. If you are looking to eat where the locals eat, Moena Café is your place. It’s tucked away in the Koko Marina Shopping Center.

9:43 a.m. Mid-morning, I catch up on emails and respond to photo requests from surf and lifestyle brands and magazines all around the world.

10:59 a.m. I head to Palolo Valley Swimming Pool for training. I do drills for 45 minutes in the Olympic sized swimming pool to build my fitness and endurance. I have a workout program that involves swimming both with and without fins.

12:14 p.m. Lunch at Pioneer Saloon on Monsarrat Ave just below Diamond Head. You can walk to Pioneer Saloon from Waikiki, but at this time of year I’d opt for an air-conditioned car. Pioneer serves awesome plate lunches and bento boxes. My go-to meal is the grilled salmon flakes with avocado & shiso wakame rice plate.

1:32 p.m. I make my way into our Hayn office in Waikiki. Hayn is one of my new business ventures. It’s a new flip flops line with design inspired by Hawaii’s rich culture and native surroundings. We recently collaborated with Sig Zane on a custom design. I spend most of my time working on new designs and color schemes. You can find our slippers at the T&C surf store at nearby Ala Moana Center.

5:03 p.m. I wind down in the place where I started – the ocean. I enjoy a colorful sunset surf session with friends at Queens in Waikiki. Nicknamed “Queens” by surfers in the early 1900s due to its location in front of Queen Lili’uokalani’s beach front home, it is a section of Waikiki Beach. For those not familiar with the area, Queens is located straight off the beach from the east end of Kuhio Beach Park.

8:52 p.m. Go to sleep. Need to make sure I’m energized to do it all again tomorrow.

All photos courtesy of Zak Noyle