Twinnies. Quads. Single-fins. Bonzers. The Olo. Noseriders. Eggs. Fishes. Daniel Ikaika Ito's quiver is more diverse than the United Nations.
"I grew up on the Big Island, surfing Honoli'i and I was all about longboarding throughout middle and high school," says Ito, who now resides on O'ahu, "So I was always down for different shapes. When retro boards became popular, I was going to college in San Diego and I ditched my long board to ride fishes and stubby single fins.”
While Ito was discovering the speed and joy of riding a short board in California, he also got his start in surf journalism at Surfing Magazine. He interned for a year and a half before becoming a contributing writer, learning the ropes from articulate surf journos like, Evan Slater, Matt Walker and Nathan Myers. Shortly thereafter he moved to O'ahu and became the first native Hawaiian editor of a surf publication while working at Free Surf Magazine from 2005-2007.
After two years of grinding it out at a monthly magazine, Ito went back to college and turned to freelance journalism. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, he worked in public relations for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. During that time as a broke college student, he also covered surfing for the Star Bulletin, eventually the Star Advertiser and ESPN.com.
“I tripled-dipped the Triple Crown,” Ito jokes of his freelancing days as a surf journalist on the fabled North Shore of O‘ahu from 2007-2010. “It was a lot of late nights, mid-day surfs and arguments with Gerald Kato during class, but I couldn’t have scripted a better senior year of college.”
Before graduating with his Journalism degree from U.H., Ito and six friends founded Contrast, Honolulu’s first avant-garde magazine dedicated to reporting, enlightening and appealing to the forward thinking demographic with content focusing on fashion, music, art, sports, technology and culture. The seven local boys started Contrast Magazine LLC in February 2008 and self-published the first issue (Contrast #00) in February 2009. Six years later, Ito is still the editor and Contrast is still independently-published by the original owners.
Today, you can still find his name on the masthead of Contrast, FreeSurf and Surfing Magazine, but Ito has also branched out to Honolulu Magazine, Mana Magazine and the random blog post. He is also part-owner and director of sales and marketing of the Hawaiian design firm, Pai‘ea Projects. His day job is director of sales and marketing for Waiola coconut water. While it may seem like Ito is a workaholic, he also gives back to his community as a surf coach for the reigning-National Champion Kamehameha School Surf Team and is the founding-president of ‘Ahahui Haku Mō‘olelo, the Hawaiian Journalism Associaition.