fbpx
Close
Searching high and low in over 180 outdoor destinations for your perfect adventure!

EP 26: PureAloha Adventures with Eva Ramos

Snorkel in Hawaii or Stand Up Paddleboard in Alabama

Pure Aloha Adventures was founded in 2014 and is a locally owned, woman-owned, and woman-ran small business in beautiful Honolulu, Hawaii!

They offer up snorkeling, stand-up paddling, and scuba diving adventures in Hanauma Bay and now also operate near Dauphin Island in Alabama.

In today’s episode, we were joined by Eva Ramos to talk about everything she’s learned in her career after leaving everything behind in 2008.

Check out the full episode here: https://anchor.fm/tripoutside

Segments from this episode:

[00:00] – Intro
[1:18] – The inspiration that led to Eva leaving everything behind
[4:45] – Dauphin Island in Alabama
[9:00] – Swimming with turtles in Hawaii
[11:30] – Best adventures in Hawaii
[16:30] – Paddling in Alabama

Book your adventure in Hawaii

Book your paddle in Dauphin Island, FL

Transcript of the podcast

Eva:

So, yeah. So Dolphin island is a little barrier island,` about 45 minutes from Mobile, Alabama. Again, another area where there’s not really any outdoor recreation. There are some people that are running kayak rentals and things like that, but there’s nobody really focusing on safety and taking people out, guiding them around, giving them lessons. So we were able to get that permit pretty easily. So we started out there last year in August.

Reet:

Hi, I’m Reet Singh, and this is adventure travel with Trip Outside, a podcast where we interview adventures, local guides and outdoor industry experts to uncover the best travel spots and human powered adventures from around the globe. Before we jump in, I have a quick favor to ask you, that if you enjoy the show, please leave us a review and subscribe on Apple podcast. It would truly mean a lot.

Reet:

Awesome. Thank you so much, Eva, for joining me from Pure Aloha Adventures in Hawaii and in Alabama now. I hope you’re enjoying your springtime before the crazy summer starts, where everybody starts heading outdoors. I’m really interested and really curious about your story and how you decided to take a vacation that turned into a lifestyle, back in 2008. So if you don’t mind, take me back to what was the inspiration behind leaving it all behind, selling everything you own in 2008 and that eventually starting Pure Aloha.

Eva:

Yeah. So Aloha, everyone. Thank you for having me on the podcast. Yeah, back to 2008, I was living in Dallas, Texas, just waiting tables and going to school. And I went to Hawaii for vacation and I just fell in love with it. So I’ve always kind of been a traveler. I love everything outdoors from surfing to snowboarding and scuba diving, all that good stuff. So moved to Hawaii, started waiting tables there. Basically, got sick of it, decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. But, so I became a dive instructor in 2000 and… Must’ve been 2010.

Reet:

Okay.

Eva:

And did that for a few years, worked for some awesome companies out on O’ahu, shout out to Living Ocean Scuba. And then decided that that was a little bit too much work for me as well. So I wanted to still be in the water, I wanted to still be outside showing people the ocean, things I love. So I started Pure Aloha in 2014, basically doing snorkel tours. So I was doing snorkel tours for beginners out at Hanauma bay in Hawaii, which is a very shallow, beautiful area. Really great for beginners, we even took non-swimmers out there. And I started with nothing. I started with a Chevy cobalt, tiny car and a few sets of gear.

Reet:

Yeah [crosstalk [00:02:52].

Eva:

And I just kind of built from there. Yeah, it was insane. I mean, I had these people in long scuba fins and just some old stuff that I had had lying around. And every little bit of money that I made, I kind of bought new stuff. And eventually, it kind of turned into a pretty lucrative business. So I’m very blessed to have had that opportunity. And it’s still going strong. We’ve made a little bit of changes through the COVID stuff.

Reet:

Sure.

Eva:

Yeah. So I’m no longer in Hawaii. I am now in Alabama running Pure Aloha Adventures, Alabama. So we’re doing paddle boarding out here.

Reet:

And when did you start that?

Eva:

So I moved here in June of last year.

Reet:

Okay.

Eva:

And my friends lived here and they were, “Nobody is doing outdoor recreation here.” I mean, everything is based around boating, drinking, partying.

Reet:

Right.

Eva:

Renting pontoon boats, renting jet skis. Nobody is really doing paddle boarding out here yet. So she kind of said it would be a good area down in Gulf shores, Orange beach. And I said, “You know what, let me go check it out.” And soon enough, I realized why nobody’s doing it here. The permitting situation.

Reet:

Okay.

Eva:

Is… I mean, it took me about eight months to get the permit.

Reet:

Wow.

Eva:

So I was told, no, by the city, by the state, by the county, by basically everybody. And finally, I just got ahold of the right person at the Gulf state park and they were able to get me a permit to work out there. That took another three months. So it’s been a long process. This will be my official first season out here. So we’re excited.

Reet:

And where exactly is that in Alabama? I saw that it was… is it Dolphin island?

Eva:

So, yeah. So Dolphin Island is a little barrier island, about 45 minutes from Mobile, Alabama. Again, another area where there’s not really any outdoor recreation. There are some people that are running kayak rentals and things like that, but there’s nobody really focusing on safety and taking people out, guiding them around, giving them lessons. So we were able to get that permit pretty easily. So we started out there last year in August at the end of season, of course.

Eva:

So it’s been very few and far between, but already this season it’s picking up. And then our Gulf shores location is going to be at the Gulf state park, which is, it’s about an hour from Pensacola. So we’re right in this beautiful area of Alabama, crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, really a hidden gem of the South. So we’re very excited to bring the paddle boarding, bring the Aloha to lower Alabama.

Reet:

I couldn’t agree more as a hidden gem. We used to take this annual trip to St. George island, and absolutely loved it. And couldn’t believe how pristine the wild… Especially, the state parks and some of those unexplored places are. And the paddling there is phenomenal.

Eva:

Yes.

Reet:

And the wildlife too, as you get into some of the inner Springs and you see manatees. I don’t know if, do you have manatees down there as well?

Eva:

We get them rarely out here.

Reet:

Okay.

Eva:

I mean, that’s definitely more in Florida.

Reet:

Further east of [crosstalk [00:06:13].

Eva:

But we’ve got lots of birds, lots of other wildlife out here, sea turtles.

Reet:

Yeah [crosstalk [00:06:20].

Eva:

There’s a lot of nesting sites out here as well. So we really kind of trying to teach people about that side of things as well, as far as the eco-tourism side of it.

Reet:

Sure. So okay, going back to Hawaii. So then you launched in 2014 and you scaled up from there, started doing snorkeling. And is it multiple adventures now or is it still snorkeling? What are all the different things that you offer [crosstalk [00:06:46]

Eva:

Yeah, so snorkeling is definitely the number one thing everybody wants to do when they come to Hawaii. So we’re still offering that. Unfortunately, due to COVID, Hanauma bay is still not allowing us to run our tours out at the nature preserve. We’re hoping to be able to go back soon, we’re just waiting word on that. We are running some boat tours out there right now, and then we’re doing the paddle boarding as well as SUP yoga and some other things out there. So we’re very blessed to be able to do what we can right now. The Hawaii market is really kind of taking off again. So we’re just doing what we can until Hanauma bay lets us go back. Yeah.

Reet:

Sounds good. And then I love that you’re a full woman owned, woman crew.

Eva:

Whoa.

Reet:

Woman ran small business. So you have a separate team that basically manages that for you and they run Hawaii now?

Eva:

Yeah. So girl power.

Reet:

Okay. Yeah.

Eva:

I, basically, I do everything as far as the business side goes. So I take the bookings, I do all the office stuff. I’ve got the girls out there that are going to go back to Hanauma bay and then the SUP yoga girls as well. So basically, what we’ve kind of turned into is we’ve kind of turned into an OTA essentially. We have partnered with a handful of handpicked tours that I personally picked out myself. And the SUP yoga girls are woman owned as well. So we’re doing that with them, we’re doing the paddle boarding with them.

Eva:

And then I’m very blessed to have a good relationship with the guys that I used to work for out there. And they’re running our snorkel tours. And they’ve got a lot of women as well. There are some dudes, we love our men as well. So we don’t want to sell that short. But as far as me, I love women power, girl power. I try to hire all women from my end, just because I like the vibe. I like women teaching people how to do things. I feel like we just have a little bit more finesse maybe sometimes.

Reet:

A little less ego.

Eva:

[inaudible [00:08:48] don’t want to say it like that, but yeah.

Reet:

Well, that’s awesome.

Eva:

Yeah.

Reet:

Then the snorkel tour, I’m so excited to learn more about the swimming with turtles. What is it like to swim with turtles? What’s the best time to visit to be able to do this or is it a pretty much any time or chance on luck?

Eva:

No. So these turtles are here all the time.

Reet:

That’s cool.

Eva:

Yeah, there’s this cool little area it’s right off of Waikiki. It’s about a 20 minute boat ride out, it’s called turtle canyon. It’s where all the turtles come and they basically come to get their shells cleaned by the fish. So it’s a little symbiotic relationship between the turtles and the fish. They’re always there. We’ve never been out there and not seeing them, anywhere from small ones to giant ones. And they’re out there all day long.

Eva:

So we run three tours, [9:30], [12:30], [3:00] PM. And you see them no matter what time you go. And then they come up obviously, to the surface to breathe air, so people love that. We get some good shots of the people on the boat as far as photos and things, looking at the turtles from the boat. So it’s a really cool experience. Even if you don’t want a snorkel, you can go out there and just enjoy seeing them from the surface.

Reet:

That’s incredible. And can you paddle board out there as well to that area or [crosstalk [00:10:14]

Eva:

You could paddle board. It’s quite far.

Reet:

It is far, okay.

Eva:

I haven’t done it personally. I would never want to take a tour out there.

Reet:

Sure.

Eva:

On Waikiki, you’re dealing with a lot of surf, you’re dealing with a lot of surf schools, and so to be out there on a paddle board and go all the way out there with all the boat traffic, it’s just a little bit too rough for the majority of humans.

Reet:

Got it. Makes sense. And the turtles, in size, they’re got to be hundreds of years old or is there a family that lives around there or have you found similar turtles living in the same area or is it always kind of new ones?

Eva:

Yeah. So turtles are protected in Hawaii, so nobody can fish for them, hunt for them, touch them, ride them, hug them, kiss them.

Reet:

Awesome.

Eva:

So they’re just always out there. They’re well-protected, they range anywhere from small juvenile turtles. We don’t really see the babies. The babies kind of tend to stay more where they were born, which is on the outer islands. But we do see the juveniles and we see the giant ones, 80, a 100 years old, just massive.

Reet:

Wow. That’s incredible. They’re such a unique animal.

Eva:

Yeah, they’re amazing.

Reet:

What are some of your, I saw that on your site that you definitely have some hidden gems and secret spots in Hawaii, but if you want to share a couple of them with us, I don’t think people would mind. So what are some things when you did live in Hawaii that you enjoyed doing as a local, whether they’re outdoor things to do or places that don’t get explored because of the top 10 list is where people end up getting drawn to.

Eva:

Yeah. I mean, Hawaii is incredible in so many ways and it doesn’t matter what you love to do, you’re going to find it there, from hiking to surfing, hidden waterfalls. So I really love to hike. I think there’s a lot of great hikes out there. Everybody knows Manoa falls. In Maui, everybody knows the road to Hana, but you can go through all those jungles and find some really amazing hikes out there. So that’s definitely one of my favorite things to do. A lot of the stuff nowadays you can find on blogs. So if you’re into that kind of stuff and you feel comfortable trekking through the jungle, by all means, look it up, do your research and go out there.

Eva:

Or if you’re a little less crazy, like we are, you can go to the easy ones like Manoa falls and they’re just as beautiful. So that’s definitely one of my favorite things to do. And as far as on O’ahu, I love to go paddle boarding out in Kailua, paddle board out to the mopes, which are the two, the mocha islands, the two islands that are set off of Lanikai beach. Got to be a good day, not too windy, but it is an incredible paddle. You’ll see lots of turtles out there. And then just to hang out and have a picnic on those islands is an incredible experience. So highly recommend that.

Reet:

Very cool. Is there a preferred time of year that Hawaii is best time to visit whether it’s in terms of weather or crowds possibly. And [crosstalk [00:13:35]

Eva:

I always tell people to go on the shoulder seasons, if you can. If you go any time the kids are out of school basically, spring break, Christmas break, summer break, it’s going to be crazy. It’s going to be really busy. The tours are going to fill up fast. If you can come in September and October or February before spring break, the weather is just as nice. It might be a little bit more rainy, but it’s really just as nice, just as warm, the water is only a couple degrees cooler and you’re going to get a lot less people and you’re going to get a lot better deals on your flights, your hotels and your tours.

Reet:

Sure, absolutely. And hopefully, now that people can work remotely from anywhere, maybe they’d go for two weeks instead of one and work from a beautiful Hawaii location.

Eva:

Yes, absolutely. And right now is an amazing time to go, like you said, because a lot of people are working from home and having school from home. So it’s really busy there right now, but it’s also a great time to go because it is really safe. It’s really safety conscious getting onto the island. They’re doing a real good job of keeping a hold of the current situation. I don’t want to bring that up too much, but we all know what’s going on in the world right now. So it’s one of the safest places that you can travel right now.

Reet:

Yeah. I think since the beginning they’ve taken it very, very seriously. One of the places that… Yeah, I think they had a mandatory two week quarantine, even if you’re visiting in the past. And I mean, it shows. It shows in the numbers and everything else. So I think it’s important for the staff and the people that live there.

Eva:

Exactly. And they’re still really strict on their mask mandates. And everything, like I said is very safe. So if you are worried about that kind of stuff, rest assured that as long as you get that COVID test 72 hours before your flight, you’re going to be AOK. You can skip the quarantine and you’re going to be in a real safe environment.

Reet:

That’s really cool. So what’s it like to run a outdoor business and love what you do? I saw that you have, if you love what you’re doing every day, it never feels like work. Do you feel like you’ve achieved that in your life now and in your businesses?

Eva:

Yes. Yes. A 100%. I love it. I love what I do. It’s hard to work at sometimes, and sometimes it’s boring work. it’s not all just getting to be out in the sunshine and paddle boarding, there is a lot of behind the scenes business stuff you have to do. But at the end of the day, if you love it, it’s worth it. So the days that I get to go out and teach people about the ocean and take them out on these amazing tours, it just makes your whole life worthwhile.

Reet:

Absolutely. I love that. I love that you created this for yourself and it’s never easy, but it’s worth it. And…

Eva:

Absolutely, 100%.

Reet:

It just shows in your passion for what you do. You mentioned something about the eco-tours or the eco component in Alabama. What are some of the things that one can expect to see on a paddle out in Alabama?

Eva:

Yeah. So Alabama’s got lots of different wildlife. Some of it you want to stay away from, obviously, like the alligators. We do have those here. They tend to not bother you unless you’re harassing them, kind of like everything, just like the sharks in Hawaii. But we’ve got alligators, we’ve got tons of seabirds, Ospreys, things like that. So people are really into birding here. I’m actually just trying to learn a little bit more about birds. If you put me in the ocean, I know all the fish, but the birds, I’m still working on.

Eva:

Lots of different ecosystems as far as the marsh areas. And then, of course, you have the beach areas. And then when you start to go into Florida, you have a lot of the Springs where, as you said, you do have the manatees and other types of turtles and things. So just a wide array. As I said, I’m still learning, so I don’t want to act like I know everything about the Alabama ecosystems, but it’s incredible. It’s an incredible place to learn about a lot of different things.

Reet:

Well, you’ve got a big playground, so you’ve got plenty of time. But in a year we’ll be back on and I’m going to ask you every bird in Alabama.

Eva:

And lots of dolphins here, I can’t forget that, the dolphin.

Reet:

That’s right. Yeah, they’re actually incredible. You just get to see so many and especially, in the morning when the water’s calm and you see them kind of swimming by. It’s a beautiful thing.

Eva:

They’re just everywhere here. It’s amazing.

Reet:

That’s awesome. Do you go into the Mobile bay as well, or? That seems like a big swampy area.

Eva:

It’s a little bit of dirty water, so.

Reet:

Okay.

Eva:

And it’s also very windy there. So you kind of want to stay away from that Mobile bay area. The ICW, the inter-coastal waterway is amazing, beautiful, calm water. You kind of want to stay away from that as well though, because there is a lot of boat traffic. Orange beach is really known as a huge boating community. So that was a lot of the challenge when I moved here and I said, “Hey, I want to do this paddle boarding tour.” And people were, “No, what are you thinking? There’s all this boat traffic. You’re going to go out there. You’re going to get hurt.” But I’m just kind of trying to explain to people that we all have to share the ocean. We all love the ocean. We all want to be out there. And if you can do it in a safe place with a safe guide, you can stay away from that boat traffic and we can all live in harmony together with the boaters and us awesome kayakers, paddle boarders, swimmers, anything.

Reet:

Absolutely. Burnt calorie’s not fossil fuels folks. That’s my motto.

Eva:

That’s right.

Reet:

So thanks for fighting for the permits and all the work that you did to try to get in there.

Eva:

It has been a fight.

Reet:

And hopefully that [inaudible [00:19:39] other people.

Eva:

Yes, it has been a fight and I’m very thankful that, like I said, finally, I reached the right person and they are giving me this opportunity. And it’s kind of a lot riding on my shoulders because I am one of the first people doing it out here. So I really have to make sure I’m doing everything right, keeping everybody safe and showing them that this is needed in the community of lower Alabama, especially in the times that we’re living in. Everybody wants to get outside, everybody wants to be healthy. And kayaking, paddle boarding, it’s all right there at your fingertips if you just know how to do it safely.

Reet:

Absolutely. And it’s such a fun activity. You’re getting a workout, but it never really feels like it.

Eva:

Yes.

Reet:

It’s, you’re constantly being challenged in form or wildlife and sea, there’s so much to it that it’s not a boring recreational workout, but you enjoy it so much more.

Eva:

It is. I agree with that.

Reet:

Well, awesome. Thank you so much, Eva.

Reet:

Hey there, adventure seekers. Thank you for listening to another episode of adventure travel with Trip Outside. If you enjoyed the conversation, please share it with your friends, leave us a review on Apple podcast, and subscribe to stay up to date and where we travel to next. If you felt inspired to travel, go to tripoutside.com, it’s the fastest way to book outdoor adventures all in one place.

 

Snorkel in hawaii
Podcast Reviews
  • Great tips for outdoors
    March 24, 2021 by JSK0113 from United States

    I love these podcasts because of the knowledge and depth of the host and the guests. Continue making these and get more people outside! You guys rock!

  • Great interviews and information!
    January 29, 2021 by BuckeyeWarrior from United States

    The Trip Outside folks are a great crew who are genuinely interested in conservation and helping people responsibly recreate outdoors. The Trip Outside podcasts are a great way to learn more about a destination before you go. Many times, it can be difficult to choose an outfitter or tour company when you don’t know who to trust or anything about the company’s ethics. You can rest assured that any recommendations from Trip Outside have already taken this into account. They also offer very helpful tips and advice about how to plan an outdoor adventure when you don’t know anything about the place you are traveling. Thanks Trip Outside!

  • Informational and educational
    January 7, 2021 by LJL111111 from United States

    I’m enjoying these- I like the flow, pace, and content so much! I’m learning a lot and already planning my next outdoor adventure!

  • A MUST for outdoor enthusiasts (even city slickers)
    January 6, 2021 by @themanreet from United States

    I love this podcast! Even though I’m a city slicker I do love an outdoor adventure. Reet and his guests do a fantastic job of making the outdoors seem accessible to anyone. They take the guesswork out of trip planning and I learn something fascinating in every episode! Highly recommend listening to this podcast.

  • If you love the outdoors, you’ll enjoy this!
    December 5, 2020 by Live Small Ride Free from United States

    Whether you’re just getting into the outdoors or an experienced outdoor enthusiast, you’ll enjoy this podcast. There’s a take away for everyone: tips on tryin out a new activity, learning about a new region or getting info from the locals!

Read related blog posts

Loading