Meet South Shore Guard, Simeon Ke Paloma
When youʻre born and raised in Hawai‘i, the ocean becomes a playground for those who respect it. A lifelong waterman turned lifeguard and business owner, Simeon Ke Paloma understood that from an early age. We sat down with Simeon to talk about lifeguarding, his love of the ocean, and what it means to embody the Island Hustle.
You lead a busy life. Can you run us through a typical day?
I wake up, feed the kids breakfast, and head to work (lifeguarding), where it’s typically busy from the get-go—there are a lot of people to watch over. With lifeguarding, we have training breaks in the morning and afternoon, so I use that time to surf, foil board, paddle, run on the beach, or swim. After I come home, I get the boys fed, and around seven, we all go to jiu-jitsu. I bring the kids there four or five days a week and get a good hour or two of training in. Then we get them showered and crash at 10. My canoe business is more of a side job, but when the weather is good and I’m not on duty, I’m there taking people out. So yeah, If you’re looking for a go-go-go kind of guy, that’s me.
How do you balance that kind of schedule with your other passions?
With lifeguarding specifically, we balance by sharing the responsibilities, the other guards and me. With my canoe company, I always make sure the conditions are safe for people to go out. I’m not trying to hustle so hard that I take people out no matter what. My lifeguarding influences that. Because once you’re a lifeguard, you’re always on duty. The way that I look at it, I’m trying to do good and to do the best I can.
How has being born and raised in Hawai‘i influenced your life?
Working in Waikīkī for the last ten years, you see this relationship between visitors and the beach boys, who really have that aloha spirit. I try to embody that same mentality and make everyone feel welcome.
Life is community-based here. That’s why we all call each other aunties and uncles. When I take people out on canoe tours, we start as strangers, but you leave like you’ve known each other for years. Forming close bonds with people is part of being Hawaiian.
What drew you to canoeing?
Here in Hawai‘i, we have canoe clubs all around. I’m a second-generation paddler. I grew up doing it, spending the whole day at the beach. In high school, I started paddling with my dad and his friends. Paddling is not a sport of strength but a sport of navigation and tradition. That’s a precious practice, navigating the waters. I was losing to the older guys because they were able to read the water, and I was just trying to paddle. That inspired me to keep learning and progressing. When youʻre out there, youʻre able to use every energy in the water—groundswell, tides, currents, wind swell—that’s what’s beautiful about it. I wanted to dive in headfirst and learn that ancient art.
My dad was a firefighter, so my whole life, I wanted to be a firefighter. I thought lifeguarding would be a good stepping stone. But I had so many eye-opening experiences in that first recruit class, where we were trained by some of the best watermen in the world. When we heard their rescue stories, I realized, this is it, this is me. I’ve been in and around the water my whole life, learning those small but significant waterman skills along the way. Now, I’m so proud to be a lifeguard. I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be.
When you’re not working, where can we find you?
We’re in the sun five days a week, so when I’m off, I'm trying to give my skin and body a break. But, I want to give my kids the best environment growing up, so I’ll take them up mauka (mountainside) or on a hike. In Hawai‘i, there’s no excuse not to be living an active lifestyle. We’re always getting out there and doing something. I’ll go paddle fishing, surfing, or foil boarding—do something fun. It’s all about balance. I love enjoying the best things in life with the best people in life.
Any life mottos or mantras?
Your health is your wealth. I have some friends who have really successful jobs but don’t have an active lifestyle. When I come home after a rescue, it’s gratifying, it feels good. At times it can be stressful, but I’m so happy to be out there, helping people and staying active. That’s what makes me rich in this life.
If you find yourself on O‘ahu, be sure to check out Simeon’s canoe company, We Go! Island Canoe. wegoislandcanoe.com