The Meolas don’t sit still. From father Gary, a surf-hungry carpenter who moved to Maui in the ‘80s, down to Matt, one of the elite aerialists of our time, energy courses through their family’s gene pool. “When Matt was little, we used to go to the job sites with his dad. He worked on a lot of coastal properties, so we’d fix these houses up, live in them, and hop in the ocean after work. He was my little Mowgli,” says Matt’s mother Nancy, evoking the fictional character from The Jungle Book who eventually learns from the laid-back Baloo about the simple Bear Necessities of life: “When you find out you can live without it, go along not thinking about it.”
Often, it’s the surf in Maui that’s an afterthought. The paved road from Haiku and Paia is lined with two lush gulches and a mix of farmland country, where black lava rocks fill the less-than-ideal warbled reefs nestled in the cracks of Maui’s North Coast. For all the highlights that household talents Billy Kemper, Albee Layer, Kai Barger, Tanner Hendrickson, Coconut Willy, Paige Alms, Tom Dosland, Kai Lenny, and Matt put out, it’s remarkable to consider how surfing isn’t the end-all obsession on the island. And maybe that’s the way it should be. Surfing is only one of the components of island living, after all.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Matt, a real-life Mauian Mowgli, finds joy in his prowess as an avid hunter, fisherman, and free-diver, roles that allow him to steward the nature and wildlife around his home isle. The same tidepools, reefs, waves, and forests that Matt grew up with, he sees in a new light from when he was a young boy. For Matt, life on Maui is all about the bare necessities, and protecting the essentials that make it such a special island.
[Intro by Peter Taras / Photography by Brent Bielmann]