Postcard from the Galápagos Islands: Surfing as a Force for Good

With over 20 years of experience as an adventurer, documentary film-maker and avid surfer, Sam Hilton has shared a bit of his story with Advance, and how he ended up in the Galápagos Islands.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself, where your home is in Australia, and where you now call home.

I’m Sam Hilton, a 37-year-old Australian, an avid surfer, an adventurer, a filmmaker, and a passionate advocate for environmental sustainability. My roots trace back to the Central Coast of NSW, Australia, where I spent the first part of my life honing my skills as a surfer and nurturing my love for the ocean.

Since then, I’ve embarked on the journey of a lifetime that has led me to call San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands my home. The Galapagos is an almost untouched archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, known for its incredible biodiversity and pristine natural beauty. It was the allure of these islands, with their crystal-clear waters and world-class waves, that initially drew me here. But what made me want to stay for so long was the welcoming embrace of the local community and the incredible potential to make a positive impact on their lives.

What led you to move overseas, and what advice would you give for those following in your path?

My decision to move overseas was driven by a deep-seated passion for surfing and a strong commitment to using this passion as a catalyst for positive change. I believed that I could make a meaningful impact by working with local communities to empower the next generation of surf leaders and foster environmental stewardship through the sport.

For those contemplating a similar journey, my advice is to follow your passions and dreams while also being mindful of the broader impact you can have. Embrace the opportunities that come your way but do so with a sense of responsibility. Connect with the communities you encounter, understand their unique needs and challenges, and find ways to contribute positively. It’s not just about your personal adventure; it’s about leaving a lasting legacy that benefits the places and people you connect with along the way.

What’s been one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in making your move?  

One of the most significant challenges I’ve faced in making this move has undoubtedly been the financial aspect. Devoting substantial time to my project in the Galapagos required financial resources that, at times, I struggled to secure. The desire to continue my research and community work often clashed with the financial realities of sustaining such an endeavor abroad. It’s been a constant balancing act, finding ways to fund and sustain my mission while remaining dedicated to my cause.

How have you found creating a new network in your new home? Have you still managed to maintain your connections in Australia?

Creating a new network in the Galapagos has been an immensely rewarding experience. The local community here has welcomed me with open arms, and my collaboration with individuals like Juan Carlos Roman and his team at Localazo has strengthened my ties locally. Together, we’ve been able to forge connections with local surfers, aspiring youth leaders, and environmental advocates in the municipalities of the islands, national parks and Charles Darwin Research Station who share our vision of using surfing as a force for good.

Together, we’ll be showcasing the beauty of Australian shores to the world, inspiring a sense of awe and appreciation for our stunning coastline and encouraging locals and alike to protect and preserve our precious coastlines.

What are some of the benefits that have come from becoming a Global Australian?

Becoming a Global Australian has allowed me to expand my horizons and share my passions with a much broader and diverse audience. It has provided me with the unique opportunity to showcase the interconnectedness of communities and the importance of protecting our oceans on a global scale.

This perspective has enriched my experiences, deepened my commitment to the causes I hold dear, and opened doors to collaborations and support that would not have been possible if I had remained confined within the borders of Australia. It’s been an incredible journey so far, and I’m excited to see where it takes us next in the pursuit of a brighter future for our oceans and the next generation of surf leaders.

How you can help

Sam is keen to continue his work in the Galapagos by properly setting up his foundation and ensuring he can have as far reach as possible. If you have any insight into the logistics of such a task please don’t hesitate to get in touch.