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We Found Paradise

Coco Ho, Malia Manuel, Tia Blanco and Nikki Van Dijk in the Caribbean.

Coco Ho and Malia Manuel are up before the sun, carefully sipping freshly brewed Caribbean coffee on a 44-foot Sunsail Catamaran, surveying the ocean.

“So, are y’all ready?” I shout, shifting the dinghy in neutral and coasting to the stern of their boat.

They both look out at the horizon, shades of orange just starting to shine over a cluster of islands to the east. Malia wipes the sleep, and 24 hours of travel, out of her eyes. Both her and Coco jump in.

“I think so.” Coco answers, a little unsure. “This is what we came for, right?”

It is. I think.

I shift the dinghy in gear and I shuttle them over to the other boat. When we get to there, Coco says, with a laugh: “Never in my life have I dawn patrolled for hair and makeup.”

This is a first for them, and a second for SURFING. We’re here to shoot the SURFING Magazine’s 2016 Swimsuit Issue and for the second consecutive year we’re including professional athletes. Joining Coco and Malia on this trip are Nikki Van Dijk and Tia Blanco. Three of ’em are on the CT, and one of them will be there soon.

This time, we’re cruising the Caribbean. Looking for locations, sure, but also for waves. We’re here to shoot Swim and a SURFING feature in one fell swoop. Two birds, one stone.

We shoot Coco and Malia on land but after an hour they get restless. And with Tia and Nikki out at a perfect, blue, A-frame breaking in the distance it’s impossible to blame them. Coco and Malia change suits, grab their boards and jump in. And as good as they looked all made up on land, their performance in the water shines 10 times brighter.

What you see here is just a preview. A small taste of what’s to come when we drop the 2016 Swim issue and a full feature in SURFING in a couple of months.