Dear Montecito: Maxx Christal

By Stella Haffner   |   February 4, 2021

Today’s letter is a guided tour of Santa Barbara from Maxx Christal. Maxx is a Crane and Laguna Blanca alum who was known as something of an adrenaline junkie back in our high school days – almost certainly a reputation he earned after volunteering to go first on every climb and zip line during class trips. The infection that took his sight at five years old has not managed to impede his accomplishments as a camper, surfer, or skier; all of which I find very impressive since going downhill on a bicycle gives me the willies.

Although you might expect the loss of one’s sight to define a person, anyone who talks to Maxx’s friends or family will hear that he is characterized by his drive for personal development, his enduring positivity as a team player, and his humor. Please enjoy this letter of Maxx’s favorite stops around our city.

Dear Montecito,

Some of Maxx Christal’s favorite weekend activities in town include surfing, Pilates, and horseback riding

Hi, my name is Maxx Christal, and I moved to Santa Barbara in 2004 from Los Angeles.

I love Santa Barbara for all the outdoor activities. One of my favorite spots is Ellwood Butterfly Preserve. It is an easy hike for me to navigate, and I love to walk through the woods all the way to the beach. I also like to go to the beach. Sometimes, I will just put my legs in the water, but then other times I will surf with the help of Chad. The first time I surfed was with Best Day Foundation and from that point on, came to love going out and riding the waves and getting pushed through the water. I love the tide pools too. Once I was tide pooling, and Chad picked up an octopus as big as my arms and its suction cups stuck on to my hands, and it felt extremely weird. 

On the weekends I like to walk around. Because I use a cane, it is nice to walk downtown and explore. Another one of my favorite spots to stop is the Natural History Museum. My favorite lunch spot is Los Agaves, and I love getting smoothies at Ah Juice. Robert always says a big warm hi whenever I walk through the door. I really enjoy talking with him, and he makes me the best almond butter, chocolate banana smoothie. Delicious! 

Other activities I do with the help of an organization called Eyeshine. This group helps kids that are blind or have other disabilities do activities like skiing, fishing, camping, surfing. They also hold Zoom classes right now that help me stay connected with other kids and teach phone skills and Spanish lessons. For the holidays, we did a talent show that was really fun. I did poetry, and we were able to show our talents with many people watching even as far as Norway. My favorite time with Eyeshine was going to Big Bear to ski. Nothing better than feeling the nice cool breeze on your face as I zoom down the mountain. I enjoy the speed and there is no better place than Santa Barbara to experience it all. I have even gone skydiving here. 

My typical day in Santa Barbara is going to the beach and doing physical therapy and Pilates at The Training Center. I am constantly trying to improve my mobility and strength to keep up with activities I love to do. On the weekends I love to surf and horseback ride.

 My goal is to eventually go to a college and be able to help charitable organizations. I became interested in charities through Crane School and Laguna Blanca. Both schools helped me get involved with storytellers, trash pick up, donating socks, the food bank, Direct Relief, and Hands4others. I would eventually like to help kids that have disabilities learn to have fun in ways that they might not think possible. I love to travel and through a college I hope to get involved with a program where I can travel to other parts of the world and help from anything to building wells for water to teaching kids. 



P.S. Parents of Montecito children, if you have recommendations on people to feature in “Dear Montecito” please contact me,


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