Paradise Found – Thailand

Sharin’ the Dream


A Surfrider Member Profile

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Photos by Don MacLean

 Don MacLean, the Surfrider Foundation Huntington/Seal Beach Chapter’s former Hold On To Your Butt! Chairperson, is in Thailand now – Livin’ the Dream.

DSC02744More than that, Don’s Sharin’ the Dream, helping to keep Thailand the tropical paradise he wants it to be.


Just as Don made it his goal to get cigarette butts off the beaches and streets in Orange County, he’s committed to getting trash off the beaches in Thailand and to continuing to carry out Surfrider’s mission.

Surfrider Thai logo“This is a huge challenge,” says Don. “The people don’t realize the need to pick up the trash around them and there aren’t any trash cans on the beaches.”

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Surfrider Phuket Facebook image

He has been working to raise money for trash cans and is busy organizing the locals to participate in beach cleanups at Phuket’s Surin Beach.

cleanup Surin Beach.9.14

cleaning beach closeup

beach shack


Together, they have removed cigarette butts, assorted trash, plastic bags, Styrofoam, fishing lines and nets from the beach.

Surin photo 5

SRF beach cleanup butts

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are always excited to see the photos Don sends us from Thailand showing the beautiful beaches – and the trash that has been collected.

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Don is also educating people about the need to protect the coastal environment and the things they can do to safeguard it for the next generation. “It’s especially important to educate the kids,” Don told SurfWriter Girls.

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Cigarette litter may seem like a minor problem to some, but not to Don. He points out that “cigarettes are the most littered item in the world.” Several trillion butts are tossed worldwide. What’s more, the toxic residue in the cigarettes damages the environment, getting into eco-systems and water supplies…threatening the quality of our water and aquatic life.

Don Surin Beach cleanup

This year Don staged the very first Phuket International Surfing Day celebration and beach cleanup. “The turnout was beyond our expectations,” he said, adding that he recruits everyone he can find, including people he sees on the beach.

ISD Cover

ME and the Gubner

Don has even spoken to the Governor of Phuket, who was eager to learn about the work Don is doing.



Along with educating kids about the environment, as an added incentive to get them to Respect the Beach, Don gives surfing lessons after the beach cleanups.


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Then, at the end of the day, he goes home to his ocean-view house on the hill, on the edge of the lush, Thai jungle…

Back yard

New Kamala House 026

and enjoys the vibrant sunset on the horizon.

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Overcoming language and cultural barriers isn’t easy, but Don MacLean is up to the task. With over 20 years experience conducting environmental compliance audits for the U.S. Army, Navy and Coast Guard, he is just the one to restore Thailand’s beaches, returning them to their natural beauty…

End Photo

So everyone can be Livin’ the Dream.


Surf’n Beach Scene Magazine

SurfWriter Girls

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Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.

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