Pro Surfer Vacations on Ocracoke

Jenny Scarborough
Brian Toth (center) makes friends with Beatle Haddad (left) and vacationer Steve Hawk, who tried surfing for the first time on Ocracoke.
Brian Toth (center) makes friends with Beatle Haddad (left) and vacationer Steve Hawk, who tried surfing for the first time on Ocracoke.

Circling the world, riding epic waves, enduring the adoration of bikini-clad girls: 

everyone deserves a break once in a while.  Professional surfer Brian Toth chose Ocracoke when he found himself with a few days off, after a Florida tour designed to inspire and teach young surfers.

"I had time and I came up here," he said.  Brian's uncle Bob and aunt Ruth Toth live on Ocracoke, and own the Cafe Atlantic restaurant.  Both Brian's sister, Amber, and brother, Wesley, have spent summers living on Ocracoke.

Brian took a different path, turning pro on his 18th birthday.  The Association of Surfing Professionals currently ranks him 35th in the world.  Since February, Brian has competed in Brazil, Western Australia and California.  In a few days he'll pack up his boards and trunks and head to South Africa.

He took time to sit down at a local watering hole and talk with Ocracoke Current.  Brian has a direct, open gaze, a perfectly charming smile, and easily makes new friends.

Yes, life is pretty awesome, 27 year old Brian admitted.  The 13 hour flights can get a little grueling, but there's always a new movie to watch if sleep is evasive.  Forrest Gump is still his favorite, he said. 

"At my point of destination I'm always meeting up with friends," said Brian.   They travel together and look out for each other.  There's usually not much time between contests, but on lay days, when there are no waves, "we take time for sightseeing," he said.

He likes the idea of an actual vacation in Europe, where he appreciates the long history and architecture.  Brian's favorite thing about America?  "Theme parks."  Of course.

What is it like competing against your friends for prize money and bragging rights?  Brian instantly got serious, revealing a fierce focus and determination:  "They are not my best friends when they're in the water."

Growing up on the beach in Isabela, Puerto Rico, Brian could head out to a world class break anytime.  He learned to walk, and then to surf.  Brian has few memories of his life before he was on a board.  "I remember playing in the sand dunes and taking baths in the sink," he said, flashing a big grin.

He got his start traveling around Puerto Rico in a convertible van driven by his mom, Peggy, competing in amateur competitions.  When he retires in six or seven years, Brian plans to move back to his hometown, and start a family business, possibly a restaurant.

Isabela is a growing destination.  "We got a gas station, and some huge condos were built on the beach.  There were a couple hotels trying to make it private on the beach I grew up on.  We got together and stopped that," said Brian.  "It's still mellow, still not overrun by concrete."

"I've been all around the world, but Puerto Rico is just way comfy.  It's cheap, nice and super friendly.  Like they say, there's nothing like home," said Brian.

What does he think of our home? 

"Ocracoke reminds me of France, with miles of long beaches," said Brian.  He borrowed a long board and paddled out with Tristan Bennink, whose family has vacationed in Isabela.  Later, Tristan took Brian out on the town. 

"We started at Dajio and ended up at somebody's house where this Mexican busted out this laser show," said Brian.  (Several people at the table enthusiastically identified the DJ as Gabriel Navarro.)  "They took me down all these dark, winding roads.  Somehow I made it back to Uncle Bob's house."

In other news of Brian's vacation:  he took Ruth for a scud around town in his rental mustang convertible, joined family and friends for dinner at the Cafe Atlantic, relaxed during a massage, and met locals at a cookout hosted by Kim Spera, who lived with the Toths in Puerto Rico for a few months. 

"It's been fun," said Brian. 

Want to learn more about Brian and see him in action?  Check out this link!


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