Talk about a dream life: Haley Otto and her boyfriend, Kaniela Stewart, live where most people vacation. On Oahu’s South Shore in Hawaii, their days consist mostly of surfing and snacking, with the occasional grand romantic gesture.
After first being introduced by a mutual friend in their adolescent years, the pro surfers’ relationship became decidedly less platonic on Valentine’s Day two years ago, when Stewart surprised Otto with a gift of a diamond necklace and earrings, roses in hand.
“I was like, ‘Are you serious? Did you really just get me diamonds?’” Otto says.
“She was baffled,” adds Stewart. Now, almost six years after they met, Otto and Stewart travel to exotic surf locations around the globe. You know what they say: the couple that surfs together, stays together—but the diamond jewelry certainly didn’t hurt.
“That sealed the deal,” says Otto.
Here, more from the couple about their rom-com-esque love story.
What does your typical day look like?
HALEY OTTO: We wake up around 8 a.m., go get breakfast, and find somewhere to surf. The waves have been pretty small lately, so we’ve had to drive around more and try to find good ones. We’ll surf for two or three hours, then head in and go get lunch.
KANIELA STEWART: We live on the South Shore of Oahu, and in the wintertime, the waves are better on the North Shore. So if we’re going to surf the North Shore, we have to wake up earlier, because it takes about an hour to get there. The other day we woke up at 5:30 a.m.
Where do you like to eat?
KS: We mix it up. Usually after a surf session we’ll eat açai bowls or smoothies. Sometimes she wants Wendy’s. She’s in love with Wendy’s.
HO: My go-to order is the Biggie™ Bag with fries, a cheeseburger, and nuggets.
KS: Then we’ll either go out for dinner or eat at my house.
HO: He’s a good cook.
KS: I’m okay. I can make chicken alfredo pasta and ramen.
Which one of you is better at surfing?
KS: We’re both on the pro tour, so we’re on a similar level.
HO: The WSL [World Surf League]. We’d be traveling to Australia together right now, but all of the contests are cancelled.
KS: It’s super cool, it’s super fun, it’s a thing we grew up doing. HO: It’s a lifestyle.
What do you love most about the sport?
HO: I absolutely love the feeling of noseriding while I’m on a wave. When I’m surfing, I just feel so free and all the worries in the world wash away.
KS: I love the thrill of surfing any wave, whether it’s a small wave or a big barrel at pipe.
Where are your favorite places to surf?
HO: Definitely Queen’s [Surf Beach] here at home.
KS: Definitely here. Outside of here, Australia.
HO: I love Malibu too.
How did you first meet?
HO: I’m best friends with his cousin, and we’d always surf together. Then one day she’s like, “Oh, this is Kani, my cousin.”
KS: I was about 13 years old.
HO: Yeah, we were young. I was maybe 11 or 12.
Can you remember your first impressions of each other?
KS: We both always liked each other a little bit. It was a crush and we never told anyone—we kept it a secret forever.
What’s life like in Waikiki?
HO: It’s so amazing. We get to wake up and go surf with all our friends. I live two blocks from the beach, so I can just walk right there.KS: It’s insane. It’s crazy how lucky we are to wake up, go to the beach—sun’s out almost every single day. Not many people get to do that.
How did you start dating?
KS: Our friends knew that we both liked each other, but neither of us ever knew. I’d talk to my friends and say, “I really like her; I don’t know if she likes me.” They would tell me that she really likes me and I didn’t know if I should believe them or not. It turns out, she did like me. On Valentine’s Day two years ago, I got her diamonds. She was in love with those things.
HO: He sent the girls on a secret mission to find out if I liked him or not.
Tell us more about the diamonds.
KS: I just went big. I sensed it.
HO: He knows girls love sparkly things.
KS: I’ve known her for so long, and I knew she liked diamonds. Her mom and my mom are best friends, and I always hear them talk about earrings and necklaces and diamonds. In my head, I was like, “I really like this girl. I’m not just going to get her little stuff. If I really want her, I’ve got to get her something she’s going to love.” So I got her a diamond necklace and earrings.
HO: They’re oval-shaped.
Kaniela, how did you choose the pieces?
KS: I knew she liked really sparkly things, so I looked at a bunch of earrings and necklaces that match and shine. I was in the store for almost two hours. It was a process. The workers there helped me out and told me which were the best ones, so I got those, and it was perfect. I was just like, “We’re doing this. No turning back!”
Haley, what did you love most about the diamonds?
HO: First off, they’re sparkly, and I love sparkly things. There are so many diamonds in the world, and Kani picked out the best ones for me. There’s no one diamond that is the same, so I think it’s really special that he went out of his way and spent two hours in the store picking me out these specific diamonds. I love them, but I’m scared to wear them in the water. The waves are big and I don’t want to lose them.
When do you typically wear the diamonds?
HO: On special occasions, or when we’re not surfing—if we go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. I usually wear them with this Tiffany heart ring Kani got me, and a black dress with a jean jacket.
What’s on your diamond wish list?
HO: Definitely some Tiffany diamonds one day. Tiffany is one of my absolute favorite jewelry companies ever.