Cultured and erudite writer and surf journalist from Laguna Beach, California, by way of Australia and Great Britain. Holmes was born (1949) in Bradford, England, grew up in Newquay, and began surfing at age 13, wearing a rugby shirt against the winter chill. In 1971, he was the founder, publisher, and principal writer of Surf Insight, England's second surf magazine, as well as a shaper for Bilbo Surfboards in Newquay.
In 1972 Holmes moved to Sydney, Australia, and shaped for Keyo Surfboards, and for the next four years he shaped for various Sydney-based boardmakers.
Tracks hired Holmes in 1976 as a writer and ad salesman, and from 1977 to 1981 he served as the magazine's editor. For four years beginning in 1978, Holmes also worked as contest director for the Coca-Cola Surfabout contest, the world's richest surf contest, held in Sydney; in the 1979 event, Holmes airlifted the entire contest—hiring six small planes to do so, at Coke's expense—from Sydney to Bells Beach, Victoria, prompting 1976 world champion Peter Townend to write that the Coke contest had become "worlds ahead of every other professional surfing event." Mobile surf contests would later become a pro tour standard. In 1980, Holmes published Surfabout: The Complete Story of Professional Surfing and the World's Richest Contest.
Holmes moved to Laguna Beach, California, in 1981, to work as the editor of Surfer, a post he held until the end of 1989. He was also coproducer of Surfer's ESPN television series, which debuted in 1985. From 1990 to 1995 Holmes worked a succession of marketing jobs for Gotcha surfwear, Action Sports Retailer, and Hang Ten surfwear; since 1995 he's been a freelance writer. Holmes' books include include Dale Velzy is Hawk (2006), and Bing Surfboards: 50 Years of Craftsmenship and Innovation (2009), and Hobie: Wizard of Wind and Waves, a biography of boardmaker Hobie Alter (2013).