Carrie’s Surfing Progression in 14 months and a handful of SWA Retreats

carrie mcgowan, learn to surf, learn to longboard, learn to nose ride, surf with amigas, costa rica

Carrie McGowan came on her first SWA retreat in 2017. She hadn’t been on a surfboard in about a decade and was essentially starting from scratch. That first retreat she started out in the whitewater, just re-learning to stand on the board. Carrie quickly became an addict, joining us every few months to take her surfing to the next level. Each retreat she showed big surfing progression! Her most recent trip was in January to our Southern Costa Rican location and she started cross-stepping on the longboard! So cool!

Carrie edited this little video with the clips from each retreat and it’s awesome to watch the progression. We can’t wait to see where she takes it from here!

In Carrie’s words:

“When I came on my first Surf With Amigas trip in November of 2017, it was my first time on a surfboard in almost a decade! I grew up on the water and surfed a bit as a teenager and in my early twenties, and was so excited to reconnect with the ocean and with this amazing sport.

Fourteen months and a few more Surf With Amigas trips later, it’s so fun to look at the progress I’ve made thanks to the video footage! I’ve gone from barely being able to stand up to learning how to cross step at the advanced long boarding retreat.

The coaches at each retreat are spectacular, each bringing different strengths and teaching styles; they really make the retreats such fantastic learning experiences, both in the water and out. I feel like I have so many more tools now to continue improving my surfing at home, and I always eagerly await my next Surf With Amigas adventure.”

carrie mcgowan, surfing progression, learn to surf, learn to longboard, learn to nose ride, surf with amigas, costa rica

Blog Post by an Amiga

Brittany Hammond joined us on a retreat a couple of weeks ago and wrote a cute blog post about the experience. She’s also an amazing photographer and got some great shots. If you’re wondering what it’s like to attend a women’s surf and yoga retreat with Surf With Amigas, here’s a taste!

Here’s an intro, but read the whole story by clicking the link below.

“I spent a week in Nicaragua with Surf With Amigas…  And it was one of the greatest weeks of my life!  In spite of several mishaps (missed flights, injuries, scorpions, and a monkey bite) I totally enjoyed this trip.”

Through the eyes of an Amiga (a very talented Amiga)

Surf With Amigas retreats are populated by talented individuals. A few weeks ago one of those was Alison Turner, a photographer, blogger, and instagram sensation (@alisontravels). She joined us in Northern Nicaragua in November.

Her words and pictures colorfully capture what it feels like to be an Amiga. A few of her photos are below, but if you have a few minutes it’s worth reading the whole thing. If you’ve been on a retreat, you’ll be shuttled back in time to relive a few of those feelings and if you haven’t yet, you’ll get a good taste of what the life of an Amiga feels like. See link below.


“First Breakfast at 5:30a.m.”, she said.   I know Jackie was talking about the plans for the following morning but I kept looking at the dry erase board for a “just kidding” below the time in which all 15 strangers were going to meet to have breakfast.   I just arrived in Nicaragua after a 24 hour travel day and my introverted self was immediately challenged to be social, share a room with a stranger, and be chipper at…. yes, 5:30a.m.”….

To read more…. click here

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Don’t Check in the Surfboards – I’m Staying! – Alex’s story of making a new life in Costa Rica


“Dont check-in the surfboards, I’m staying”

These were the last words I told to my then boyfriend, when we were at the airport about to end a trip to Costa Rica for our home in Spain. It was one of those moments where everything seemed to line up – everything stopped and in that instant it hit me, this was my quest for freedom and change.

Just like in surfing when a  perfect wave comes to you, and you happen to be sitting in the right spot. You need to ride that wave no matter the consequences, and me, I had to take this “wave” that was approaching me.

It wasn’t anything I did lightly. I’d been with my boyfriend for many years. We had lived together in a camper van running a surf school in Spain. I’d known for a little while that maybe everything wasn’t happening the way I wanted for my life and a trip to Costa Rica opened my eyes to what else was out there. But it wasn’t until we were at the airport, checking in on our way home that it hit me. I couldn’t get on that plane.

In that moment of revelation my now ex-boyfriend  started shouting  at me  – “What are you doing? Are you crazy? You’re going to regret this for the rest of your life, and there’s no coming back”.

All of a sudden the feelings of insecurity and fear started to boil in me, and in those milliseconds I thought to myself:

“This trip has changed my life completely, from a personal and spiritual perspective. Everything in my life until this moment was good and I am very grateful for it, however something in me is lacking and I’m not sure – what! I have to find out.”

The voyage to Costa Rica made me feel free. Being surrounded by life, nature and kind people, it was the best I had felt in a long time. This place filled me up with energy, made me feel more complete, love myself more, and helped me gain confidence in myself again. All this thanks to getting out of my comfort zone and confronting life.

I asked myself – ‘was I going to put all of this at risk?’. Since I finally felt one with myself again the answer had to be YES!


Sometimes we get stuck in patterns, habits, unfulfilling jobs and relationships. And there are times when you ask yourself, “Am I where I want to be?”

We get comfortable in everyday routines, we get stuck, and we can’t grow. We are  not feeling bad, but were not feeling good. The beauty is out there, but we cannot see it. We know something is missing, but we don’t know what.

And Then it strikes you: it’s time to change.

While I was standing there at the airport alone, with two surfboard bags, without a credit card, and only 20$ in my pocket, for a second I questioned myself:

Did I make the right decision?

While I was thinking that, a random guy approached and asked me, “Where are you going?”

I replied, “I was just about to go back home to Spain, but I heard winter’s coming up here in Costa Rica and the waves are going to be really sick, so I decided to stay.”

He said, “Good for you, that’s the way to do it”, and shoved 80$ in my pocket and disappeared.

I guess that was life’s way of telling me I was on the right path.

I have learned that when you make a decision that you feel deeply in your heart, life opens its arms to you. It wants you to be happy and follow your path.

So whenever you have a strong feeling, deep inside, follow it because life’s there waiting to help you, to receive you and embrace you.

Don’t be scared to start a new beginning.


Everything after that fell into place. I got a job at an oceanfront hotel where I worked and lived for a while. I got to surf the winter waves, the biggest waves I had ever surfed.


I also had massive wipe outs.


I did several surf trips around the country where I happened to meet Holly along the way.

We were out in the surf at Pavones, the waves were super fun and all of a sudden we started talking, connected and she offered me this great opportunity to work in Surf With Amigas.


Working with Surf with Amigas has been a dream job. All the people you meet, the places you go, the food you eat, the waves you surf and the yoga from the heart.  It’s been mind blowing ,the idea of helping people push themselves, surf waves they had never surfed and progressing in their surfing in ways they didn’t even imagine. It’s been a very nourishing experience, all the unique women i’ve met, the moments we’ve shared , the  conversations we’ve had, the tears, the laughs, the wild moments and the adrenaline rushes. It’s been awesome and I have learned so much about life, people, situations and myself.


After this big change in my life I feel that there are no coincidences. Everything is connected and happens for a reason and it’s all perfect the way it is.

Just as the world is in constant movement with the sun, the moon and all living things, we too move with it. As it changes we change with it, and as it grows we grow with it.

Everything is in harmony. The ocean moves through the force of the tides and the winds, and these move because of the circular motion of the earth. We too move within them. Life is expressing itself through wanting us to be true to our real nature.

We are all part of the same circle and we are all inhabitants of the same planet. We are all heroes of our paths. We all have the potential to do great things, to seek our happiness and feel fulfilled. All that is needed is to make little steps in the direction that feels right in our hearts.

Be the architect of your future and let life be your expression.


With love, Alex