How Three SWA Instructors Found Themselves Chasing the Waves of Their Lives at G-Land

“SEND IT” by Alex Kelly

We didn’t sleep that first night. The ground shook from the power of the crashing waves and when we finally walked down to the beach at first light, the bay was stacked to the horizon with perfect lines. We counted seven waves, each an identical copy of the previous, peeling perfectly along the point. A crew of older guys approached.

“Where are you girls surfing? Tiger Tracks? It’s a mellow right-hand point where the women and children surf,” they said. We told them no. We’d come to surf G-Land.

G-Land, off the coast of Java, was our promised land. There were three of us with our spirits synchronized and ready to venture to somewhere new: the exotic Delia Bense-Kang, part Mexican, Korean, and German, who’d grown up surfing the rough seas of Northern California and now works for the Surfrider Foundation. Then there was the gorgeous Silvia Yom, a well-traveled and talented filmmaker and photographer from Los Angeles. And myself, Alex Kelly, known as the fiery Spaniard, who, having finished my degree in Oceanography, started a surf school in southern Spain. We’d all connected by working for Surf With Amigas,an agency dedicated to inspire women in surfing and life through surf and yoga retreats.

As we boarded the fast boat full of dudes we could tell that it was a rare occurrence to see three single girls going to G-Land. Everyone was filled with anticipation, nerves, and hopes of scoring the waves of their lives. Picture perfect hollow barrels – big, long, and fast– with magical conditions were rumored for the next few days. The history and the vibe of transient surfers passing through to ride this dreamy barrel was palpable and the proof lay in a smattering of surf posters on the walls and broken boards strewn around.

In the morning the tide was too low to surf so everyone gathered to watch while sipping their coffee. Conversations consisted of contemplating what board to ride, best entry and exit strategy, where to sit. We did our best to eavesdrop and gather knowledge to build our plan of attack.

Excited but terrified, we eventually made it out…without actually realizing how big it was. With our eyes always set on the horizon we scratched over the top of the first set. There were a few older guys just charging and getting great rides. They didn’t look like they were in good shape but they were ripping. I felt so inspired by them. I was sitting the farthest out because I didn’t want to get worked on the inside and before I knew it, the horizon turned dark, signaling a huge set on the way. I was too far out to catch any of the first waves that rolled in but the third wave was bigger and I knew I was in the perfect spot. I don’t know what got into me but something clicked and without thinking I just turned around and went for it.

For an instant, everything slowed down and every action and movement followed the previous one. I felt the lift and wind in my face as I cruised all the way down to the bottom of the wave. It started to suck up as it hit the reef and I tried to set my rail and get high to pass the section but it was too late and I wasn’t making it. I could feel the wave collapsing behind me so I straightened out to get as far away as I could from the lip. Then I waited to get hit by the avalanche of whitewater behind me. It slammed me down hard on the reef, but luckily butt first, and it bounced me right back up again. I grabbed the board and paddled back out for more. I caught another one right off the bat that aligned itself beautifully all the way into the channel.

As I paddled back out again I looked toward the lineup and saw a big one coming through. Everyone was eyeing it hungrily as one of the guys took off and ended up flying over the falls. Delia happened to be next in line and I yelled at her, “Send it!” She took off super late, made the drop, and disappeared into the barrel.

It all came together that day and we felt in tune with the ocean, catching one wave after another. The offshore wind was blowing into crystal-clear blue water, creating a wave you could only imagine in your wettest of surf dreams. Our friend Silvia was on the boat right in the lineup cheering and shooting the most epic surf shots. After a few days, we’d earned our places in the lineup and felt right at home with the crew at Bobby’s surf camp. And as all swell cycles come and go, so do these momentous life experiences. The trip confirmed our beliefs in taking life as it comes, to be open to whatever the world has to offer and live for what makes you feel alive and present. If you feel it, just send it.

photos by Silvia Yom

NEW Advanced Surfing Clinic for Short and Longboarders in Costa Rica

We just added an advanced surfing clinic for short and long boarders in Costa Rica this spring!

Dates: May 5-12, 2018

Skills we’ll focus on:

Since the retreat is open to all types of surfboards, some days we may be breaking up the group by board length, other days we’ll all surf together.

Short boarders will work on cutbacks, bottom turns, top turns, how to generate their own speed and possibly tube riding. We expect that attendees will already know how to duck dive, but we can work on tips to improve duck dive technique.

Long boarders will work on turns, generating speed, cross-stepping, cutbacks, looking stylish, and possibly nose riding. Long boarders are also welcome to try out shorter boards.

The Surf:

We’ll stay at a brand new little eco resort with multiple waves within walking distance. There are a couple faster (better for shorter boards) waves out front, and a few gentler waves a little ways down the beach (better for longboards). If the swell is bigger we’ll be on a mission by boat or car to surf some of the longest waves in the world. We strategically planned this retreat in May, when we’re likely to get a bit of swell and surf the points. There are a couple of world class waves where you could get the wave of your life, and a few other nooks and crannies that are also super fun and lesser known. We’ll be on surf safari to get you into the very best waves for you, breaking up the group by ability and board size so that everyone gets what they’re looking for, and we don’t show up anywhere with a big group! 

The place where we stay is nestled in between jungle and ocean along a gorgeous stretch of mostly empty pristine beach. This region in Costa Rica is regarded as one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. Expect to see monkeys, sloths, toucans, scarlet macaws and a variety of other local creatures!


The resort is nestled at the bottom of an 800 acre private biological reserve and looks directly out at the ocean. The lodging is eco-friendly and rustic but comfortable, with large screened windows, fans to keep cool, and ensuite bathrooms. Each room is equipped with 3 or 4 beds and will sleep 2-4 Amigas. There’s a covered restaurant area for meals and where we’ll do our video coaching and “classroom” sessions.

   marea alta panorama 

There will be yoga too of course! The resort features a gorgeous jungle-surrounded open air platform!


Since we will be staying near the end of a dirt road, essentially in the jungle, we’ll enjoy the chance to disconnect from the “real” world. There is no cell service or wifi at the resort. However there are several internet cafes in the area, two a short bike ride away. There are bikes provided for guest use. Our instructors also like to check in once in a while, so there will undoubtedly be some “internet missions” happening. There will be cell service at some of the spots we’ll surf as well as where we’ll go for our ladies night out dinner, so if you activate international data roaming on your phone you will have an opportunity to check in that way. Family members are always welcome to call the resort number as well in order to check in (that number available in the travel info document).

$1900 Package Includes –

  • 2 way airport transfer between Golfito Regional Airport and the resort (provided you arrive and depart within our recommended windows)
  • All meals
  • Coffee, tea, fresh juices and any drinks consumed in our cooler during surf missions/activities
  • Car and Boat trips to surf
  • High quality individualized coaching both in water and during video review sessions
  • Classroom sessions breaking down the mechanics of surfboards and maneuvers
  • Other activities if the surf isn’t firing.
  • Daily yoga sessions

Bring extra cash for

  • Massage
  • Smoothies, Sodas, and Alcoholic beverages
  • Tips for staff


Get coached by Holly and Jackie, assisted by our other instructors TBD. Check out our instructor page to read bios.



Waves of Hope Update

As many of you know, SWA supports various development initiatives throughout Central America. We have mainly supported and partnered with the NGO in northern Nicaragua, Waves of Hope, a community development organization that has focused lately on education. For those of you that have been to Coco Loco and participated in Waves of Hope projects, we wanted to send out a quick update!

The big Waves of Hope project, the high school, was built three years ago and began with 77 students. This year, the school is up to 270 students, and the crew built two more classrooms to accommodate the higher numbers. The demand for education keeps growing, so there are plans to build two more classrooms this December/January. 

Waves of Hope also just launched a scholarship program, which sponsors 14 recent graduates pursue post-secondary schooling. The cost to sponsor a student per month is only $40. In addition, they also just launched an arts program in December that includes visual arts, guitar, music theory, and dance classes. 

Waves of Hope and Surf With Amigas are currently (and always) fundraising to support all of these efforts- the high school expansion project, the scholarship program, and the arts program. Thank you, amigas, for your continued support. If you’re thinking donating– please remember that every dollar counts! For more information on donations click here.


Staff Summer Vacation- Nikki Belcher

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-11-23-09-amAs our off-season comes to a close, I have been reveling in the restoration that this summer brought. Over the last five years of living in Nicaragua, my lifestyle has been very fluid, on-the-go and in many ways, seeking the next adventure. This year, however, has truly been about holding home and nourishing through quality time with family, cultivating a morning meditation practice and studying various natural health modalities.

After wrapping up our summer retreats, I spent two weeks in my hometown of Chicago. With a little one now in tow, time with friends and family is cherished in a whole new way.  To see the joy that comes through my Grandparents in having a great-grandchild is heartwarming. The awe in my parents and sibling’s eyes in being able to share new experiences and create memories with Naia is a blessing that I appreciate far more knowing that our time during our stay is limited. A few of my friends are also new mamas and soon-to-be mamas so to gather together with the next generation of friends and share moments reminiscing about the good-ol-days while simultaneously feeling the richness of where we are now continues to shape and enhance my perspective of our current realities.  



Jamie’s parents also came to visit and being that it was his mom’s first time in Chicago, we explored the city on an architecture boat tour  – which really opened my eyes to the beauty and history of my old stomping grounds.

During our trip, Jamie and I even had the pleasure of enjoying our very first over-night date night (partyyyyy!!). While we didn’t get as wild as we imagined, we saw Wilco at an outdoor venue in downtown Chicago, stayed at a fancy hotel and indulged in what every good Chicagoan loves, hearty food! Now, if you have been to El Coco Loco before, you may already know that I am very passionate about food and that I generally consider myself a ‘pescatarian’. However, when we were recommended the restaurant, The Purple Pig, I simply could not resist! The restaurant offers cheese, swine and wine, showcasing the flavors of Italy, Greece and Spain.  Before I get carried away in the deliciousness of the night, I will stop there. But seriously, it was divine and if you are ever in Chicago, I highly recommend this dining hotspot!



Once we returned to Nicaragua, El Coco Loco finished up their last group of the season and we closed for 4 weeks. During that time, we revamped all of the cabanas, built a new kitchen, spiced up our restaurant/bar area, planted new trees and flowers around the property and the biggest news of all – bought a new house that will soon provide our guests with beach front, luxury accommodation options.

Over the course of the last month and a half, I have been soaking up the quiet time. While I feel very lucky to have an amazing staff who most often cook our fresh and healthy meals, it has been a treat to channel my inner homemaker – playing with new recipes in my own kitchen and brewing up batches of kombucha and fresh nut milks – all while battling one ant colony (ah, the joys of outdoor living) at a time!



I have also been diving deep into my personal practices and studies of yoga, meditation, integrative nutrition and holistic health through essential oils. I am currently feeling very inspired, refreshed and looking forward to sharing all the goodness with all of the awesome Amigas very soon!