When visiting Oahu, the rental car agencies suggest you veer right onto the H2 North when the freeway splits. "Why?" the tourists ask. "Just take our word for it." But one of Hawaii's most promising talents, Alessa Quizon, is from the town where the road splits and nearly ends. And though her side of the isle may be a little rough around the edges, Alessa is an elegant and stunning contrast to the thorny kiawe brush that lines the Westside shores. On the verge of storming the 2013 'QS season, Alessa fills us in on her upbringing and explains why Hawaiian girls have a hard time complaining when they're in a bikini. —Beau Flemister

Photo: Macfarlane

ALESSA: It sucks when people judge me because I'm from the Westside. Like, people will think I'm crazy or something and won't want to visit my home because they think they'll get robbed…which could possibly happen. [laughs] But there are beautiful parts and there are rough parts, and I love where I came from, but I am also glad that I could leave.

My high school [Waianae High] was really gnarly. There were even riots that I got caught in and one time I actually got maced. Kids were beating each other up and hitting teachers and the police just started spraying all the kids. It was such a horrible experience. I mean, it's not like Compton or anything, but there are fights almost every single day. It's rough. But coming from the Westside, I know what bad is, so I can truly appreciate the good. Surfing is my good and my way out.

We're really lucky over here in Hawaii. We can surf every single day and never have to worry about it being flat. And you can have four sessions a day if you want! It's always warm. Girls from Hawaii can't help but be happy. In California, you can't surf as much as we can. Plus, they're in wetsuits and we're in bikinis. [laughs]