Founders Story - Moana Bonaire

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

From Bali to Bonaire: our founders story and dreams for the future…

Growing up in Holland I have been surrounded by water my whole life. When I was a kid, my mom and dad took my sister and me to France every summer. Starting out with a body board I would try to catch as many waves as possible and ride them all the way to the beach.

Back home my dad would take on sailing trips. I learned early on that I really loved to be on the water!

After I went to college I bought a little camper van. Every school holiday I would go on a surf trip, driving through Europe, meeting lot’s of new people, exploring the Atlantic coast of France and Spain. Mesmerized by the never-ending beaches I have to admit that looking back… I actually never really surfed that well, I always was a little afraid of ‘the washing machine’, got stuck in rips several times and always felt intimidated by the ocean whenever I was in. At the same time it kept attracting me, the traveling, driving up to the beach, the sound of the ocean, the smell of the water, the sand between my toes, I just loved the care free surf lifestyle. Free as a bird and just living in the moment.

Back in the day @Zarautz, Spain - Moana Bonaire

For years I discovered the world going on surf trips. I studied to be a teacher and started working in education so I had lot’s of holidays. After my first trip to Bali back I had my first experience combining my two passions: education and surf, as a volunteer for the foundation Soul Surf Project (now Westerlaken Foundation.)

Soul surf project Bali found a way to protect the environment and to help underprivileged kids in Bali. The kids followed lessons about the environment and nature like beach clean ups, recycling lessons and turtle releases. As a reward those kids learn how to surf, an activity that puts a smile on their faces and gave them a chance on a career in the surfing industry on Bali. My job was to teach the surf instructor Ketut how to teach the theory lessons in the orphanages. An experience that inspires me to this day. So much fun, so rewarding and so close to my heart.

Soul Surf Project, Bali. - Moana Bonaire

‘In her time as a volunteer in Bali, Lianne has focused on combining her passions; the surf sport and education, exactly what Soul Surf Project Bali did, a program for underprivileged children with nature and environmental education combined with surfing. Lianne has moved mountains to translate a program of Western educational philosophy into local possibilities and customs and to train the local staff of the program to run the curriculum.’ - Dr. Rodney Westerlaken, M.A, B. ed., Chairperson of the Westerlaken Foundation.

I went back to Bali later on and in the meantime I was working on moving to Australia when the economic crisis in 2010 hit. Australia put all visa applications on hold while I had my mind set on living abroad and close to the ocean. Long story short, I ended up on Bonaire. A tiny island in the Caribbean Sea. With not that many days with waves I started windsurfing and later kitesurfing, while working in education.

With foundation Kiteride I got another chance to combine passions. As the social program coordinator I was working closely together with Kiteboarding Bonaire and youth foundation JongBonaire to coach groups of underprivileged kids learning how to kite and learning important life skills along the way. In 2013 and 2014 we successfully coached two groups of kids, who until this day enjoy the sport. We even have two who made kiteboarding their career as kite instructors at Kiteboarding Bonaire.

Moana Bonaire, Founders Story, Fundashon Forma and Jong
Working in education @Fundashon Forma and Jong Bonaire, 2015.

Longing for more slowly the idea of MOANA Surf shop was born. It needed to be surf shop that is more than just a shop. MOANA is one of the first social entrepreneurship on the island and I am so proud to see the full vision I have slowly coming together.

Moana Bonaire, Founder, 2018
2018, MOANA just opened.

Our core business as a shop is to provide high quality surf products. We demand high standards for all of our products, as we believe that good products that last long contribute to less waste. Something that for the island is so important as our waste stays on the island at all times. Our social mission is to raise awareness about the importance of sustainable products by spreading as much information as we can, by offering alternatives to the regular beachwear you’ll find on the island (see blog recycled fabrics) and to work together with initiatives whenever we can.

Our dream now is to open our next department, that will take place in 2021. We would love to eventually provide a workplace for people with a distance to the labour market while putting more and more effort into our mission to make Bonaire the Blue Destination it is meant to be.

The plan now is to slowly build out, while holding on to the key values of social entrepreneurship, and that is that the company has to contribute to our community and our environment. In these uncertain times it's definetely an adventure, but purpose drives passion so we are just going for it 100%! Let 's see what the future beholds for us!

Lianne, december 2020.

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