Dr. Kai Hally-Rosendahl
Professional Waterman / San Diego Regional Manager
Kai’s deep knowledge of surfing is founded in more than his countless hours in the ocean. He holds a Ph.D. in wave physics from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UC San Diego). But Dr. Kai’s love for the water began much earlier. At 18 months old, Kai fell into a pool in his birth town of Ojai, California. Rather than being traumatized, he recalls this as a vividly beautiful memory. With a name that means ‘ocean’ in Hawaiian, perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Kai’s earliest waves at age 5 were with his late father at the world-famous San Onofre State Beach, where his grandfather was one of the original ‘SanO’ members and surfed with icons such as Duke Kahanamoku. Enthralled with his very first wave, Kai rode all the way onto the shore, breaking the fins off the board! From this first surfing experience, Kai had found his life’s calling.
While growing up and honing his skills throughout Orange County, Kai began traveling to seek out the world’s best waves (including California, Baja, Hawaii, North Carolina, Mexico, Nicaragua, Brazil, Tonga, and Indonesia). Kai moved to La Jolla to attend UC San Diego, and has lived there in “The Jewel” ever since. After a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Applied Mathematics, Kai focused on his oceanic passion by pursuing his Ph.D. in wave physics at the top oceanography institution in the world. After losing his father unexpectedly in 2012, Kai made a conscious decision to reprioritize his career objectives. Upon graduation, Dr. Kai turned down a postdoctoral scholarship offer at MIT to shift his focus away from high-level research and, instead, to prioritize human connection and directly helping others. Coming from a family of teachers, Kai has already tutored and mentored hundreds of kids, teens, and adults over the past 20 years. With his affinity for the waves, it was only natural for Dr. Kai to transition his teaching focus from math and science textbooks to the enjoyment of surfing and the ocean in general. But rest assured, if you’re curious about the science behind the surf, Dr. Kai can answer any and all questions you might have!
In addition to his 30 years of surfing experience, Kai has completed intensive training with the world’s best big wave surfers and water safety professionals through the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group. Coupled with his extensive wave knowledge from both experiential and academic standpoints, Dr. Kai’s formal training in injury prevention and emergency response contributes significantly to Learn To Surf’s unparalleled professionalism in surf instruction and water safety.