By People Staff
Updated May 11, 1998 12:00 PM

In Hawaiian her name means “the state of water when it’s calm.” Destiny couldn’t have played a more colossal joke: The day after she was born, her mother put her on a surfboard. But Jones, the 21-year-old who won the U.S. women’s amateur championship at 15, has been coasting ever since. “She’s a water goddess,” says Kathy Nenneker, creative director of Shape, which featured Malia on the cover last June. “This is a body she earned by doing what she loves to do.”

That body, along with her sultry lips and golden-brown eyes, brought modeling agents paddling to her Oahu door in 1996—despite the fact that she’s only 5’5″. Jones owes her exotic looks to her mother, Vi, a marathoner with a Hawaiian-Filipino-Spanish background, and her father, John, a dentist of German-English descent. “I’m a lot lighter than my mom but darker than my dad,” Jones says.

The island life is not without its trials. For one thing, salt and sun can do a radical number on her. So Jones loads conditioner on her hair and No. 35 sunblock on her face. “It’s so strong you have to use soap and water to take it off,” she says of her favorite Shiseido brand. And, she reports, “I haven’t had zits” since using the Body Shop’s tea-tree oil soap. But what Jones loves displaying most are her slim size-7½ feet with their purple-painted toes. Never mind the scars she gets from scraping them against coral reefs. “I only wear shoes in restaurants,” she says. “It feels good to go barefoot.”