On an early winter morning, standing with feet in wet grass on Kohl Christensen’s lush property on the North Shore, Kohl picks a ripe orange off a tree and offers it around. It’s sweet and juicy.
Kohl’s got the coffee pot whirring, and he’s agreed to show us around his place – one that’s become a home away from home for quite a few traveling surfers. He says, “Bula” to the visiting crew from Fiji, and guides us past a greenhouse, a nursery full of fruit trees and veggies, and into a barn full of big wave toys. A jetski looks ready to go. Twenty oversize boards line the walls. This is where he holds big wave safety summits, designed to keep the crew he tackles dangerously massive surf with safe. He shows us where a fin broke off into his back. There’s still a jigsaw of a scar as a reminder.
He built the entire place with his hands, and it’s substantial. The land is gorgeous. And even more impressive, when he and his brother acquired it more than a decade ago, there was no electricity. So Kohl went back to school to better understand how solar energy works. He installed solar roofing, started a business around it, and then figured out how to make his abode hum along entirely off the grid.
“I’ve always wanted to live a lifestyle that was close to nature,” says Christensen. “Everything plant you see here we planted. Nothing was here before. It was just a big grassy area.”
Over the last decade, Kohl has established himself as a leader among the big wave surfing community. He’s received invites to the Eddie – something he calls one of the greatest honors of his life – while managing to balance his responsibilities managing his solar roofing company with his role as a Patagonia ambassador and a champion of sustainable living at home.
“It’s really easy to lose touch with how special this place that we live is,” says Christensen.
He grabs a mango off the tree, a rooster crows, and his Yorkie scurries after it across the grass. Not here it’s not.
Video shot by Alex Smolowe and Casey Acaster. Edited by Alex Smolowe.