Hannah Bennett is a beauty based in Fiji who not only surfs incredibly well but has a smile that will light up any room. While we stayed at The Beach House on the Coral Coast we were lucky enough to meet Hannah out of sheer luck and she was such a beautiful soul that she agreed to jump in front of the camera for us.
It felt that all our stars aligned! After the trip we reached out to this island babe to get to know her even better and so that we could share this interview with you. Enjoy.
Which part of Fiji did you grow up in?
I grew up on a small island north of Fiji called Rotuma. That is where my mother is from. We are Polynesian people who speak our own language apart from Fijian and practice our own unique culture.
There is a really beautiful way of life in the Pacific Islands, and a big sense of pride if you're from there. What does home mean to you?
Absolutely! My identity is defined by where I am from and the place I grew up. I hold Rotuma very close to my heart and dedicate a lot of my values to coming from there.
When did surfing come into your life?
I have two older sisters who taught me to surf when I was 9 years old, very grateful for them indeed!
You have siblings in Hawaii, do you get over there to visit much?
Yes my middle sister lives in Hawaii and when I was 14 she took me in so I ended up going to high school on the Big Island. I moved back to Fiji but I make a point to visit Hawaii at least once a year.
The waves are kinda big and scary over there! Do you paddle out most places on the North Shore?
Hawaii is definitely the proving grounds when it comes to heavy surf. I've had my worst wipe outs over there, and during one session I almost quit surfing! But I overcame the experience thankfully. My favourite time of year to visit the North Shore is in October, before all the tour surfers come and the crowd gets wild. My favourite place is Rocky's yewww!
Image by: Alana Spencer (@coconutcomradery)
Do you have any favourite places to visit in the world, no doubt surfing has taken you to some pretty cool locations...
I can't think of any better reason to travel then on a surf trip. It has taken me to some absolute gems in this world. I particularly like going to places that are really different to Fiji. Places that have surf but aren't typically tropical. My next travel destination on the wish list is Morocco. I've heard it has some amazing right hand point breaks and I love all of their art, food and culture.
We were very lucky to have you be a part of our photoshoot on the Coral Coast of Fiji, vinaka Hannah! What is your favourite piece from the collection?
I really adore the Sea Cape with the red hibiscus print...my fave!
Your family run a business where they make many different products from a nut that falls from one your native trees. We can't remember the name! Can you tell us about it?
Our family business is called Fiji Island Naturals. We are suppliers of "liquid gold" aka we farm and produce Dilo and Tamanu Oil in bulk. The oil is made from nuts that grow on Dilo trees found on outer remote islands. We take pride on giving jobs to rural villages on small islands around Fiji and our family have always loved working with local people who have a very deep connection to the environment and a healthy way of life.
Tell us a bit about your experience with competitive surfing, do you enjoy that side of it?
In the beginning competition was never a major goal or aspiration of mine as far as surfing goes. I was always an athlete playing other sports but surfing was my escape from that so to speak. Finally when I got a bit older I decided to test out the WSL qualifying tour in 2015. I was on the QS for two years and then threw in the towel and started focusing more on representing my country in other international comps with a more indigenous back ground.
We're on board with Take 3 For The Sea in their fight against plastic pollution. What are some ways that you reduce your use of plastic?
I'm all about that! I try to be an advocate for plastic free living here in Fiji and within the surfing community. I have my own utensil kit with stainless steel straws that I carry with me everywhere. I also use reusable water bottles and I am very proud to say that I haven't bought a single piece of new clothing in over a year! Secondhand baby!
Hannah thank you so much for taking the time, one last question from us. When are you coming to Australia to hang out?
Haha I can't wait! I will be there mid February for the Global Wave Conference on the Gold Coast. I am a guest speaker representing the South Pacific.