I quit my Italian work life and started a new one. In Maui!

Interview with Paolo Crociara, who reinvented himself with a new business in Hawaii


A few weeks ago I interviewed Giampaolo Cammarota, an Italian engineer who quit his brilliant career to move to Maui and follow his dream. Today I am going to interview another fellow Italian, Paolo Crociara from Codigoro (a tiny town nearby Ferrara – Emilia Romagna), who decided to dare and quit his Italian life to start a new one in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Paolo is a passionate and experienced windsurfer/kitesurfer whose story demonstrates that courage, perseverance, intelligence can lead our lives to a superior level, on the condition that we turn those attributes into a clear vision and a massive action plan to get what we are looking for.

We can do whatever we like, if you believe and act. Paolo had had an entrepreneurial spirit since he was a kid and, thanks to his inborn curiosity and a natural inclination towards the challenges, he has been able to turn his dream into a reality. Chapeau!

Aloha Paolo! Let’s start with your ”identity card”

I was born and raised in Italy in a small rural town where children could found amusements in nature. We used to play by the river, a piece of wood and our creativity was all that we needed to have fun the whole day: I think there is a strong affinity between my childhood and the place where I have decided to live in Maui. Today I play with my kid same like I played when I was a child. When I turned 8, I moved to another town nearby where I lived and worked until I moved to Maui, more than 10 years ago.



What did you do in Italy?

I got my first job when I was 16: cherry harvester. That experience deeply marked my adolescence: every day was such a challenge to pick up cherries from a 15 meters-high tree in a small picturesque village, where Hippy kids arrived from all over Italy. Then, when I was in my early twenties, there was the windsurf boom in Italy and I immediately started a windsurf business. I created one of the first windsurf schools in Italy and I kept going until I was 26, when I decided to reinvent myself again. I started a movie rental business and it was a literal boom: such an unexpected success pushed me to expand it and to open more rental points. Until a new dream began to poke me…

That dream was Maui! How did you come up with the idea of moving there?

I have always been curious about different cultures since I was 15, everything new was attractive to me and I started travelling a lot. Then I started windsurfing in the eighties and I had a total blast! Since then, my trips were always organized in windy and wavy spots, and when I discovered Maui in 1992 I was struck: I will never forget the first time I got there, it was like being in a movie. A soon as I got to Hookipa (the most famous windsurfing spot in the world) I started wondering if I could live there. And here I am!

How long did it take to turn the dream into a reality?

It took 9 years. It was not an easy moving and I decided not to rush. I had work commitments to respect and I wanted to make sure I could leave my Country with no negative repercussions on my family.

What about the love?

Big deal! I was in a relationship in Italy but I absolutely wanted to move to Maui. The only way for my partner to figure out if she would enjoy the place was to live there for a while. So, the year before my moving, I took her to Maui but I returned to Italy after 45 days while she spent 6 months alone on the island. Today she is my wife.

What did you do as first thing once you got to Maui?

The very first thing was to get the driving license. Then I began to work as caretaker in exchange for lodging, plus some odd jobs to get some money. This lifestyle, which I had for 3 years, allowed me to minimize expenses and to have enough time to windsurf and kite surf every day.



What do you do in Maui to live?

In 2005 I started my project: I decided to purchase a property and to build a house. Therefore I purchased a landscaping business and I started to work as hard as I could to accomplish my project. I knew that the harder I would work, the sooner I would get back in the water! For a while there were no holidays for me. Now I have reduced my work schedule and every afternoon I am free to spend time with my family or on the beach.

Main challenges you had to face in Maui

My old age! I got too late to Maui (around 40) and I can’t do all that I would love to do when riding the waves. This is my daily challenge in Maui.

What do you miss and what you don’t about Italy?

I definitely miss my mom, while I don’t miss at all the the ”Italian system”, for example the bureaucracy

Paolo you made a very unconventional choice. Where did you find the courage?

Good question! I think I do not have just one direct answer. I think it is a combination of several factors: the comparison between Maui and Italy, the desire to challenge myself in an unknown environment…. I remember when I was in Italy I felt like my destiny was already marked, but I didn’t feel comfortable with that: I needed new stimulus, I needed to live another life.

Are you going to return to Italy?

I don’t know, I can’t foreshadow the future. I do not have a prejudice about returning to Italy, but as long as I can practice windsurf I am not going to leave this island. Perhaps I will spend more time in Italy, especially during the summer. There are too many unpredictable factors that prevent an accurate answer to your question.

Thank you Paolo and good luck!


Pictures courtesy of Jimmie Hepp