Editor at Large, Freesurf Magazine

The Inertia

Name: Alison Teal
Age: 29
Ht: 5’3”
Wt: Before “Naked & Afraid” / After “Naked & Afraid” / Present
110 lbs before, 90 lbs after, 110 present
From: Big Island… almost born and raised.
Occupation: Adventurer, soul surfer, survivalist, film maker, bikini enthusiast.

Alison Teal is not your typical breed of surfer girl. In fact, she has quite an unusual upbringing. “After I was born on the floor of a tiny log cabin high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, my family got an assignment from MOUNTAIN BIKE MAGAZINE to go on a photojournalist adventure around the Big Island of Hawaii and test out some of the first Mountain Bikes. We came across an incredible piece of ocean front property and decided to build a home base there called “Hale Kai” or “Ocean House.” Over twenty years later, this true labor of love, our very own “Robinson Crusoe Style Grass Shack” has become a renowned eco retreat center and my beloved home sweet grass shack.”

With a world-renowned outdoor photographer father, David Blehert and a legendary Yogi mother, Deborah Koehn, Alison spent her childhood home-schooled on the road living in some of the most primitive, inaccessible, and often dangerous mountains, jungles, and unchartered wilderness areas that cover the face of planet earth.

“When I was two months old, my parents took me skiing on Ausangate, the highest peak in Southern Peru, and since then my life has been a continues whirlwind of high adventure;I have explored and lived in the most remote, strange, colorful, and bizarre corners of this planet and gotten to know, like and become friends with all manner of indigenous people, and by doing so become part of an ever growing global family. The world was my school and my playground.”

Photo: Courtesy of Alison Teal

Photo: Courtesy of Alison Teal

Spending most of her time skiing the tallest peaks and attending school with Sherpa children, Alison didn’t get into surfing until her early teens. But the experience would change her life forever. “My first real wave I remember was at Uluwatu… I’ve never been one to enjoy the learning curve, and I usually throw myself in waaay over my head. Growing up in Bali off and on, I remember some of my local friends encouraged me to paddle out in overhead Ulus. I got the “wave of my life” and  was convinced I got the best barrel ever. Coming out of the water I found out someone captured it on camera — it definitely wasn’t a barrel, and I looked more like a monkey then a surfer, but I still couldn’t help smiling the rest of the day… actually the rest of the year!  I think all things in life relate to surfing. Some people like to drop in big, some small. Some take bigger risks, some hang on the shoulder waiting for the wave to come to them and some just love to play in the white wash. Personally, I love to drop in big and not care what I look like. I may fall or, I may have the ride of my life… or maybe I’ll get slammed with a new learning lesson or get dragged underwater and experience a new world I’ve never seen.”

As if some sort of destined fate was calling her, Alison became reluctant to be featured in the nationally televised discovery channel hit reality television series Naked and Afraid. “The concept of the show harkened back to the beginning of time in a sort of Adam and Eve meets Survivor where two strangers, a man and a worn, are dropped in one of the harshest environments on east and left to survives the element, and each other, for 21 days with NOTHING and earn NO money prize.”

Photo: Discovery

Photo: Discovery

“One of my biggest dreams is to be able to share the ancient secrets of survival and sustainability from the cultures I grew up in, and try to be a ray of sunshine in a world of wild and petty reality shows — and this was my chance. When I finally agreed to the challenge I only had one week to prepare and when I found out I would be going to a tropical location — the Maldives — I was honored by my Hawaii community that came together to share their knowledge of fishing, plant life, weaving, and just about every darn thing there is to know about the coconut tree.” Using knowledge she learned from local polynesians, her skills became an asset during the acclaimed survival show providing her and male companion Jonathan Klay with clothes & sustenance throughout their 21 days surviving in the maldives.  The success of the show turned Alison Teal into a reality show celebrity.  With appearances on nationally televised talk shows like Steve Harvey & Arsenio Hall, Alison showed poise & resilience as she refused to appear any show ‘naked’ & in her signature survival attire.  “I would not go naked, but was happy to wear my “native dress” like I did on the island.  My parents and my first surf coach Uncle Ina sent me 200 Ti leaves and enough coconut hats to last me for all the shows. I was creating the most authentic wardrobe for not only me, but also Jonathan my co-survivor. I’m forever grateful to my extended Hawaii family for supporting the “wild haole wahina” and I hope I made my homeland proud!.”

Now residing (off the grid) on the big island of Hawaii, Alison is getting busy, setting off with her pink surfboard (made with recycled materials) on wild adventures around the world, offering her viewers a special passport into her global family and their mind blowing customs through humor and inspiration. With Alison’s fearless passion for life, she dives into communities living off the beaten path to unearth customs and curious traditions, investigate ancient myths and legends, and showcase the importance of family to inspire eco-lifestyles for the betterment of a more sustainable tomorrow. “In each episode of Alison’s Adventures, I find a local companion who guides me through their universe, offering viewers a first hand look into their secrets to survival, sustainability, and happiness. My goal with this show is to inspire and educate the kid in everyone through humorous entertainment that leads to action!”

With Alison, pink is the new green because her pink surfboards are specially made to be completely eco-friendly. “My surfboards are green to the core, made from soy based sustainable products and recycled Styrofoam such coffee cups and plant based non-toxic resin. I recently teamed up with …Lost and E-tech, together we created an all-eco PINK board for my upcoming adventures. It was fun being a part of the process and working with Matt Biolos and his incredibly talented artist daughter Ryder to make them beautifully unique and to spread the word to future generations that sustainability is the wave of the future — pun intended. I always say a smile and a pink surfboard can open many doors. I love being a bridge between cultures and people. When a girl with a big smile and a pink surfboard rocks up to a village with a flower in her hair…well…I am welcomed with great curiosity and have become part of a great global family!”

The biggest issue Alison has been come across is the obsessive amount of plastic bottles polluting pristine coastlines around the world.  “Indonesia, Fiji and even my home in Hawaii are now covered in plastic bottles and trash.” The tipping point came during her Naked and Afraid experience as plastic bottles and trash were scattered all over the uninhabited island they were surviving on.  “There was literally no where to step without coming across a plastic bottle. I was later surprised to learn that villagers from the surrounding islands had spent an entire week cleaning the island for the show, boating away of tones of trash. It still looked like an island dump.”

For Alison’s next adventure will return to the Maldives and reunite with the “island’s princess” and the local villagers on a special episode bringing awareness to the fact that Maldives may look like paradise, but it is actually home to the largest “Trash island” in the world.  Her plan is to clean up the plastic bottles on the island where she survived and recycle it into thread, literally. Alison will be working with Repreve turn to plastic waste into usable products for the popular brands including Patagonia, Roxy, North Face, Polartec, Odina Bikins, Volcom, Ford, and Teeki hot pants.

“My goal for Alison’s Adventures is for the brand to become an online hub of inspiration and education through entertainment. Through my website and social media I hope to create my own versions of Discovery Channel with a dash of HBO and a sprinkle of Netflix with an aura of awesome to share the magic and stories I was fortunate enough to experience growing up global.

“I hope to be a breath of inspiration for people to smile, live sustainable, surf for the pure joy of surfing, hug your parents, eat a papaya off the tree, and take every chance you get to travel! I believe adventure and experiential education fuels the soul. Life is short… LIVE ALOHA and love each other.”

Alison’s Tips for Living Sustainably:

  • Go solar.
  • Don’t eat out of single use plastic.
  • Compost
  • Buy eco-conscious brands like Patagonia or my Alison’s Adventures bikini and made from recycled plastic bottles.
  • Buy eco surfboards — look for the “Sustainable Surf” stamp on the bottom.
  • Turn off lights and faucets when you leave a room.
  • Wear coconut shell bras and grass skirts whenever possible.
  • Use non-polluting transportation… like camels.
  • Also treat your body just like the earth and try to eat healthy, exercise, and respect it.

This article originally appeared in Freesurf Magazine.

To keep up with Alison Teal’s travels, follow her on InstagramFacebook, and TwitterAnd be sure to catch the special premiere of Alison’s Adventures Friday, July 25 at the California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica, California, presented by ZJ Boarding House.

Photo: Courtesy of Alison Teal

Photo: Courtesy of Alison Teal


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