There is something special about Hawaii’s West Side in the way the rugged red cliffs and dusty roads cast a brutal contrast against the blue heaven of the Pacific Ocean. At the clashing of these opposite elements lies a fiery ember of a fading Hawaiian sensibility. It’s one of Oahu’s last regions where ohana (family) still reigns supreme. Surf industry cameras and sponsors squeezed tradition from the North Shore with no opposition, and consumerism has ripped the heart out of Waikiki. But the West Side has remained true to the roots from where the Hawaiian culture grew. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Makaha lines that string together the families residing there. And at no time was this more evident than in the final of the 1997 Oxbow Longboard World Championship contest when Dino Miranda won the event against his first cousin and reigning world champion Bonga Perkins. Perkins relented, “I lost to the world champ, and I lost to my cousin. The title is in Hawaii and in the family.” Sure, Miranda was the world champ, but before that, he was Hawaiian. He was family.
Dino Miranda was born in 1964. He was raised among the economic quagmire that defines the western coast of Oahu. He learned to surf on the rolling walls of Waikiki in 1971 and was mentored by local legends like Rabbit Kekai. After years of riding short boards, the Hawaiian regular foot switched to longboards. At 26, this made for an interesting move. However, he would later tell Layne Davey, “I don’t think I ever switched. I love to bodysurf , bodyboard , windsurf , kite surf and tow surf.” However, as the 90’s progressed so too did Miranda’s longboard cred as he traveled well beyond the white sand of Makaha and began dominating shortboard strongholds like Velzyland and Pipeline. Competing in the longboard championship contest on Reunion Island in 1995, Miranda found himself carrying good friend Brian Keaulana up the beach after his own historic third world title. But just two years later, Keaulana would return the favor when back home at Makaha and at 33, Dino had his day.
The swell was 12 feet and relentless. Miranda was in the final facing off against his first cousin and reigning world champion Bonga Perkins. Surfers that day were being pushed to their physical limits by massive sets and shifting peaks. Miranda, who had lost several battles against his friend and cousin in the past, won the test of endurance by linking 100 yard waves and threading an elusive Makaha tube to leave Perkins needing a 9.6 as the final drew to a close. The final horn blew to seal Miranda’s win at the $55,000 Oxbow World Longboard Championship. Perkins told Greg Ambrose, “I couldn’t have lost to anybody else.
However, not much changed for Miranda. After his world contest win, he continued to religiously assault Pipe at dawn. Still stoked. Still a grom at heart. He secured a sponsorship from surfboard manufacturer and industry heavyweight Surftech which designed and distributed his signature board model. Eventually, Miranda joined his surfing lifestyle with a new passion, adding another dimension to his lines on the wave face with lines of color across the canvas. Dino first found his penchant for drawing when he scrawled on the wall of his Makaha home as a young boy, but today, his renderings capture the connection between Hawaii’s landscape and foliage with the ocean he thrives in. His paintings now have fetched thousands per piece. Although his branches reach out in varied directions, his roots remain steadfast. Dino Miranda: world champ, surfer, artist, Hawaiian, and cousin.