The Best Size Inclusive Surf Brands for Women

surf with amigas retreat

Starting a surf journey can be both exhilarating and intimidating, especially if you don’t fit the traditional surfer image often portrayed in the media. However, the ocean is for everyone, and embracing your unique self is part of the adventure.

Here, we’ll discuss some fantastic size-inclusive bikini and wetsuit options, along with a few essential beginner surf tips from an Amiga who’s joined us on many Surf With Amigas retreats, Maddie Stone.


Left on Friday: Left on Fridays goes up to a size XXL, and have comfortable, cute and supportive tops!

Carve Designs Carve Designs offers XL sizing in rash guards and their leggings and are great quality.

Swimsuits For All: Known for its wide range of sizes and stylish designs, these suits are perfect for active water sports like surfing, providing both support and style.

Curvy Kate’s Swimwear: With a focus on fuller busts and a variety of trendy designs, Curvy Kate offers supportive and flattering options for plus-size surfers.

surf with amigas inclusive retreats surf with amigas inclusive retreats


Finisterre: This European company is our top wetsuit recommendation from our Amiga Maddie Stone. They have sizes that go up to a US women’s 22. This is one of the largest size ranges for wetsuits we’ve found! They also offer custom wetsuits, and have great neoprene jackets and tops.

Xcel Axis Long Sleeve Front Zip Wetsuit: Available in extended sizes, this wetsuit provides flexibility and warmth, ideal for surfing in cooler waters!

Rip Curl Dawn Patrol Plus-Size Wetsuit: Designed specifically for women with curves, this wetsuit combines comfort, performance, and durability.

surf with amigas retreat surf with amigas retreat inclusive

What to Remember When Starting Your Surf Journey

Embarking on your surf journey is an exciting step. But it’s easy to feel discouraged, overwhelmed,  or imposter syndrome, especially if you don’t feel like you identify with surfer stereotypes. On one of our latest episodes of Second Breakfast, Maddie Stone explains an her early experience that left her feeling disappointed:

“I went to Costa Rica and I signed up for a lesson and the guy brought a board and hadn’t asked height or weight or anything. And at that time, I didn’t know enough to know, I should put this out there proactively. And we show up, we’ve driven to a beach to meet and he pulls out a seven foot board, which, for me was not going to float me. I was not gonna catch any waves on that, especially at such a beginner level. It’s not only an inclusion type of thing, but it’s legitimately making the sport even harder to do. ” 

Keeping that story in mind, here are some tips to help you get started on the right foot:

Finding the Right Instructor

Look for Experience and Patience: Choose an instructor who has experience teaching surfing at ALL LEVELS and demonstrates patience and understanding with years of experience underneath their belt. Personal recommendations or reviews can be very helpful in finding the right fit. Try finding a private lesson with a local instructor so you can get the attention and insight you deserve!

surf with amigas retreats inclusive surf with amigas retreats inclusive

Self-Advocate and Choose the Right Waves

Advocate for Yourself: Do some research before your lesson, or go to a local surf shop and ask questions! (board and break recommendations, etc.). We always say, size matters when it comes to boards! Especially when you’re starting out, bigger is often better.

Start Small: Begin with smaller, gentler waves that are more forgiving for beginners. This helps build your confidence and skills without the intimidation of larger waves.

Stay True to Yourself and Positive: Remember that everyone’s surf journey is unique. Celebrate your progress, no matter how small, and avoid comparing yourself to others. Surfing can be challenging, and there will be ups and downs. Keep a positive mindset, and remind yourself that perseverance is key! Most importantly, stay true to who you are and what you enjoy. If certain aspects of surfing culture don’t resonate with you, allow yourself to focus on the parts that do.

Embarking on your surf journey, especially when you feel like you look different or don’t identify with different aspects of the industry, can be an incredibly challenging but rewarding process! Remember that perseverance can be a powerful statement of self-love and confidence. With the right gear, guidance, and mindset, you can ride the waves and experience the joy and freedom that surfing brings. Remember that the ocean is for everyone.

Hear Maddie’s surf journey about Busting Surf Stereotypes and Embracing Idenity on the Second Breakfast Podcast!

3 Essential Tips for Surfing Over Reef

surf with amigas retreats

Surfing over a reef can offer some of the most thrilling and picturesque experiences in the ocean. Our retreat locations in both Indonesia and the Maldives are renowned for their incredible reef breaks, attracting surfers from around the globe. However, surfing over reefs also comes with its unique set of challenges and risks, not to mention intimidation factor! Here are three essential tips to help you navigate these stunning but potentially hazardous spots safely and with confidence.

1. get to Know the Breaks

Understanding the specifics of the break you’re heading to is crucial. Every break has its own characteristics and potentially problematic zones. For this reason alone, local knowledge is invaluable. Once you arrive at your destination, talk to local surfers or guides to learn about the best tides, swell directions, and any specific dangers such as sharp coral heads or strong currents so you can be well equipped when you paddle out.

Most importantly, research the destination and surf breaks you’ll be going to before arrival. Watch videos, check out swell forecasts, and look at wave guides or other resources on websites like Surfline. Understanding the conditions you may be dealing with in advance will better help you prepare, both mentally and physically!

Pro Tip: Utilize Local Knowledge

   surf with amigas indo surf with amigas indo

2. Equip Yourself Properly

Surfing over reefs may require some additional gear to ensure your safety, comfort, and confidence in the water! Everyone’s preferences are different, but you may want to invest in some gear listed below:

  • Reef Booties: These can be extremely helpful in protecting your feet from sharp coral or rocks. If you have to walk over reef to paddle out to the break, they’ll also help provide better grip when walking over slippery, uneven surfaces. Not to mention, if you do find yourself with a few party favors from the reef on your feet, booties will help secure your bandages and provide more protection for your next session.
  • Rash Guards and Wetsuits: Rash guards and neoprene will not only protect you from the sun but can also soften any blows you might have with the reef!
  • Surf Helmet: You might not wear a helmet every time you paddle out, but if you’re looking to get some tube time or take off steep and deep in powerful, hollow waves over shallow reef, it may be something you want to look into. Not to mention with tropical surf locations becoming more crowded, protecting yourself from potential collisions with other surfers might not be a bad idea, either.

Finally make sure all of your surf gear (especially things attached to your surfboard) are in good working order before your departure! Using damaged or well-loved items (like leashes!) in critical conditions can quickly turn a minor mishap into a dangerous situation on a reef break, where you need to stay close to your board to avoid injury.

Pro Tip: Use a Strong, High Quality Leash

 surf with amigas indo surf with amigas indonesia

3. Perfect Your Technique

Paddle and Positioning

Reef breaks often require precise positioning and strong paddling skills to ensure you catch the wave at the right spot and avoid being caught inside.

  • Take-Off Points: Learn the take-off points specific to each reef break. This is where local knowledge is again invaluable. Being in the right position can mean the difference between a thrilling ride and a dangerous wipeout.
  • Paddle Power: Reefs often create powerful, fast-breaking waves. Ensure your paddling technique is strong and efficient. Practice quick, explosive paddling to get into the wave early and establish control.

Wave Selection and Exit Strategy

Choosing the right wave is critical, especially over a shallow reef.

  • Wave Selection: Avoid waves that are too big for your skill level. Start with smaller, more manageable waves and gradually work your way up as you gain confidence and experience.
  • Exit Strategy: Always have a plan for how to safely exit the wave. Know the safest routes back to the lineup or to shore. If you do wipe out, protect your head with your arms and try to fall flat to distribute the impact.

surf with amigas indonesia  surf with amigas indo

Pro Tip: Practice Duck Diving (DEEP!) & Don’t Hesitate on The Takeoff

Being proficient at duck diving (pushing your board under an oncoming wave) can help you navigate the sometimes-treacherous waters above a reef. On a steep, powerful wave, hesitating on the takeoff can lead to a potentially dangerous situation (likely getting hung on the lip and going over the falls). Remember to commit! Even if you fall, you’ll be in a safer position on the wave than at the top.

Surfing over reefs in destinations like Indonesia and the Maldives can offer some of the most memorable sessions of your life. Although the first time surfing a reef break might be intimidating, trust yourself and remember to have fun! Often times when we’re nervous we tense up or forget to breathe in stressful situations, which can have negative impacts on our surfing and safety! Breathe and have fun! Happy surfing!

Why Southern Oaxaca Should Be Your Next Surf Trip Destination

surf with amigas southern oaxaca retreat

Southern Oaxaca, located along Mexico’s stunning Pacific coast, is celebrated as one of the premier surfing destinations in the world. With its diverse range of waves, consistent swell, and inviting atmosphere, it’s a paradise for surfers. If you’re searching for long, perfect sand-bottom right point breaks and beach breaks, you should choose our Southern Oaxaca retreat location for your next surf coaching trip. Read on to learn more about the waves in Southern Oaxaca and why we love it so much!

Wave Variety

From powerful, barreling beach breaks like Playa Zicatela, also know as the “Mexican Pipeline,” to long, rippable right hand point breaks like Punta Conejo and Barra de la Cruz, Southern Oaxaca offers a wide variety of waves to get your glide on or practice maneuvers. With the diverse array of options, you’re bound to find your personal Goldilocks break.

surf with amigas mexico  surf with amigas mexico

Consistent Swell and Ideal Conditions

Southern Mexico is often a swell magnet for long-period swells that originate in the South Pacific. Swells can show up at any time of year but the most consistent season for surf is April through September, when larger storms are generated in the South Pacific. Our retreats in Southern Oaxaca are in September, an ideal time to score and miss some of the heavier crowds that descend upon the region earlier in the summer.

 oaxaca surf retreat  oaxaca retreat surf with amigas

Vibrant Surf Community and Culture

Southern Oaxaca’s surf towns, like Puerto Escondido, have a vibrant and welcoming surf community, while still maintaining an authentic, Mexican beach town feel. Being an international surf destination, you’re bound to meet surfers from around the world while also enjoying Mexico’s rich culture.

With all the different spots in the area, it’s easy to move around to avoid the crowds. One of our favorite yoga instructors, Reesie, describes her time in Oaxaca as “a land filled with incredible, long right-hand points” that give you plenty of time and space to practice any maneuver of your dreams.”

Most importantly, the local culture and cuisine enhances the overall experience.  Oaxaca is full of tradition and hospitality, and the food is a reflection of that. You won’t  be able to pass up the local salsas, and can’t leave without trying the tlayudas, or Mexican pizza.

surf with amigas retreat

Sustainable Surf Tourism

One of the things that makes Southern Oaxaca so special is wave accessibility and sustainable surf tourism. Apart from Barra de La Cruz, the locals have many hidden gems of the region on lockdown, meaning you need a local guide/local accommodation in order to surf them (which can often come with a hefty price tag). Even in Barra de La Cruz, you’re required to pay around $10 a session. This idea may initially seem outrageous, but it has allowed the local community to benefit from surf tourism while also keeping waves from becoming overrun. As Surfline describes, “Once you get over the fact that you must pay to play, you’ll find that the waves are more than worth it, the local guides are friendly and welcoming, and it’ll still be the quickest, cheapest, easiest score you’re likely to get in the Northern Hemisphere.”

If you join us on our Southern Oaxaca retreat, you’ll gain access to explore epic waves along the coast via 4×4, surf safari style!

Southern Oaxaca is a dream come true for surfers, and offers the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable surf vacation. Whether you’re chasing big barrels or just wanting to cruise and practice turns, Southern Oaxaca invites you to ride its waves and experience its unique charm. So pack your board, embrace the adventure, and get ready to discover why Southern Oaxaca is the ultimate surfing destination!


Feeling Frustrated In The Surf? Here’s How To Develop a Positive Surf Mindset

surf with amigas retreats

Surfing is an experience that tests both your patience and perseverance. Anyone who’s spent time on a board knows just how easily frustration can set in. Whether it’s the challenge of catching waves, navigating crowded lineups, or dealing with the ocean’s unpredictability, surfing can often feel like an uphill battle, no matter how many years of experience you have under your belt (or how many surf retreats you attend)!

Big wave surfer Bianca Valenti is a positive mindset champion. She encourages the acceptance of fear and discomfort in the water:

“This is exciting. This is scary. I don’t know if I can do it. I want to do it. I’m gonna try, who knows what’s gonna happen. Just choosing to really embrace your fear, sit with it and have a healthy relationship with it and see where it can take you [can be extremely impactful]. I’m always out there for the love of it, but also it feels good to get to that place of extreme discomfort because I think it’s empowering to be able to choose to face your fear. When you make the choice to go out there, that’s what you’re doing. You’re making a choice to go out and adventure, explore and see what you can unlock within yourself.”

That being said, here are a few tips we focus on at our women’s surf & yoga retreats to help Amigas develop a positive surf mindset and reframe their frustration:

Embrace the Learning Curve

One of the biggest sources of frustration in surfing is the steep learning curve. Unlike many other sports, where progress can be swift, surfing requires patience and persistence. Remember, every surfer was a beginner once. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, celebrate each small victory. Maybe today you paddled stronger, or you managed to pop up a bit quicker. Acknowledge these achievements and give yourself credit for the effort you’re putting in.

Set Realistic Expectations

It’s easy to get caught up in the highlight reels of professional surfers or influencers, but comparing yourself to them is a surefire way to feel inadequate. Set realistic, personal goals that are within your reach. Maybe it’s standing up on the board, riding a wave for five seconds, or even just feeling more comfortable in the water. When you achieve these goals, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that fuels your desire to keep improving.

 surf with amigas retreat

Focus on the Process, Not Just the Outcome

Surfing is as much about connecting with nature and mental renewal as it is about catching waves. Whether you’re  suiting up, paddling out or wiping out, challenge yourself to be present during your surf sessions. In addition, mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing and grounding exercises, can help you stay centered, reset your mind after difficult experiences, and ultimately become more appreciative of your time in the water.

Learn from Your Wipeouts

The ocean is a powerful teacher. Each wipeout, each missed wave, is an opportunity to learn. Instead of seeing mistakes as failures, view them as valuable lessons. Reflect on what happened and consider what you can do differently next time. This mindset shift from frustration to curiosity can transform your surfing experience, making each session a chance to grow and improve.

  womens surf retreat Costa Rica

Build a Supportive Community

Surfing can sometimes feel isolating, especially when you’re struggling. Surround yourself with a supportive community of fellow surfers who understand the ups and downs of the sport. Share your experiences, laugh about your wipeouts, and celebrate each other’s progress. Having a tribe can provide encouragement and remind you that you’re not alone in your journey.

Stay Physically and Mentally Fit

Surfing requires both physical and mental endurance. Regularly engaging in activities like yoga, swimming, or strength training can improve your performance in the water. Additionally, practices such as meditation can enhance your mental resilience, helping you to stay calm and focused even when things don’t go as planned.

Have Fun and Practice Gratitude

At the end of the day, surfing is supposed to be fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh at your mistakes, enjoy the camaraderie, and remember why you started surfing in the first place.  Remember that gratitude can also be a powerful antidote to frustration. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the ocean, the privilege of being able to surf, and the health and strength that allows you to be out there. When you’re having fun, the frustration naturally diminishes, leaving room for more joy and stoke.

Finally, remember that developing a positive surf mindset takes time, but it’s a worthwhile journey. The next time you feel frustrated in the surf, remember these tips and paddle out with a positive attitude and an open mind.

For more tips on mindset and mindfulness, check out The Surf with Amigas Collective, or Second Breakfast episode with Bianca Valenti!

4 Ways You Can Be A Respectful Surf Traveler

surf with amigas retreat

Surfing isn’t just a sport; it also encompasses a culture, lifestyle, and a global community. As surfers, we’re privileged to explore stunning coastlines and surf waves all over the world. However, with this privilege comes responsibility – a responsibility to respect the environments we surf in and the communities we encounter along the way. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or just dipping your toes into the world of wave-riding, here are four ways you can be a respectful surf traveler.

Learn and Respect Local Surf Etiquette

Every surf spot, anywhere in the world, has its own unwritten rules and codes of conduct. Everyone deserves to have access to the ocean and waves, but it’s essential to show respect in the lineup, especially as a foreigner. Before paddling out, take the time to observe the lineup and understand the local etiquette. Is there a lineup hierarchy? Are there specific peak markers? Notice where people are sitting in the lineup and where you might have the best chance of scoring fun waves amongst that mix; where are the local shredders, the salty dogs, and the beginners all sitting? Avoid dropping in on others’ waves, follow the lineup rotation, and always give right of way to whoever is closest to the peak. By adhering to these unspoken rules, you’ll not only enhance your surfing experience but also contribute to a positive vibe in the water. Don’t forget to smile!

When in doubt, and especially if you’re going surfing at an entirely unfamiliar break, hire a local surf instructor or surf guide to show you the ropes.

Please note that the topic of surf etiquette can be complicated, and often controversial! To dive deeper into the rules of the lineup, check out our podcast, Second Breakfast, linked here.

Minimize Your Environmental Footprint

As surfers, the oceans are our playground, but that doesn’t mean the sport is inherently environmentally friendly. Surf trips and surf retreats often involve lengthy and fuel intensive travel,  which already lends itself to a heavy carbon footprint. That’s why we encourage that wherever your surf adventures take you, prioritize leaving the coastline cleaner than you found it. Pack out what you pack in, dispose of your trash properly, and participate in local beach clean-up initiatives whenever possible. Additionally, be mindful of the products you use. Opt for eco-friendly sunscreen to prevent harmful chemicals from entering the ocean, choose sustainable surf gear whenever feasible, and use reusable water bottles. If you must buy bottled water in areas where the tap water isn’t potable, buy in bulk to avoid excess plastic! By minimizing your environmental footprint, you’ll help preserve the beauty of surf destinations for generations to come.

Cultivate Cultural Awareness

Surfing can take us to amazing locations with rich cultural heritage. Take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture with an open mind and heart. Respect local customs, traditions, and sacred sites. Learn a few phrases in the local language (do not assume everybody you meet speaks English), engage with locals respectfully, and support local businesses rather than large corporations whenever possible. Remember, as surf travelers, we’re guests in these communities, and it’s essential to leave a positive impression through cultural sensitivity and appreciation.

surf with amigas retreats

Give Back to the Surfing Community

Surfing is a global sisterhood, and there’s immense value in giving back to the community that has given us so much. Whether it’s within the communities you’re traveling in or elsewhere, we highly recommend volunteering with surf-related charities, mentoring aspiring surfers, or supporting grassroots initiatives that promote ocean conservation and coastal communities’ welfare. Especially while abroad, find ways to contribute meaningfully to the surfing community. This could involve anything from donating surf gear to locals to using local guides on your trip. At Surf with Amigas, we work hard to give back to the communities we play in.  In Northern Nicaragua, for example, we sponsor a local ladies kickball team, helping them with money for transportation to games and their end of season parties. Join us on a retreat to get a chance to high 5 the ladies after a super fun game of kickball on the beach or at the local sports field!

As surfers, we’re not just travelers; we’re stewards of the ocean and ambassadors of surf culture. By embodying respect for the environment, local communities, and fellow surfers, we can elevate our experiences both in and out of the water. Let’s ride waves with gratitude, humility, and a deep-seated commitment to leaving a positive impact wherever our surf travels may take us.


3 Reasons Why You Might Fall In Love With Nicaragua

Nicaragua, nestled in the heart of Central America, enchants travelers with its unique blend of natural beauty, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality. From the peaks of its volcanic landscape to the sun-kissed shores of its pristine beaches, Nicaragua offers an array of experiences sure to capture the hearts of adventurous souls. Whether you’re drawn to Nicaragua to surf, explore quaint local villages, or eat fresh food, Nicaragua offers plenty to fill your cup with on your next surf adventure. Here are three reasons why you might find yourself falling head over heels for this captivating country.

The People

You’ll love the people of Nicaragua because they are humble, down to earth, kind, and approach difficulties with the saying, “aqui resolvemos.” This saying, meaning “here, we resolve,” emphasizes Nicaraguan’s can-do attitude, resilience and determination.  As Nicaragua was our inaugural retreat location, we are deeply embedded within the communities where we work, and that is reflected within most of our retreat activities. Whether it is playing kickball, riding on horseback down the beach or learning to dance with local women, we love interacting with the beautiful people of Nicaragua and learning more from their culture. Our local partners that play an integral role in SWA retreats in Nicaragua include surf instructors, taxi drivers, boat operators, videographers, chefs, and many more.

The Food

You’ll love Nicaraguan food for its vibrant flavors, blending influences from indigenous, Spanish, African, and Caribbean culinary traditions into a rich tapestry of taste. The cuisine is characterized by its generous use of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients like plantains, beans, maize, and tropical fruits, resulting in dishes that burst with color and freshness. From classic Central American favorites like gallo pinto, (a hearty mix of rice and beans) to flavorful repochetas (fried tortillas often served with beans and/or eggs), and fresh fish (caught right down the street from local fishermen at our retreat location), Nicaraguan cuisine offers a delightful array of flavors and textures sure to tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving more.

The Waves

You’ll fall in love with the waves in Nicaragua for their pristine beauty and thrilling surf opportunities. Nestled along the Pacific coastline, Nicaragua boasts a diverse range of surf breaks catering to surfers of all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned pro searching for the tube ride of your life or a beginner eager to catch your first wave, Nicaragua’s beaches offer something for everyone. Not to mention, the presence of Lake Managua, about 50 miles inland from the coast, helps funnel wind across the country to provide 300+ days of offshore winds.  At our Nicaraguan retreat location, you’ll find consistent swell, lots of fun beach breaks (point breaks are an option with bigger swell), warm water and breathtaking scenery, the ultimate combination for an unforgettable surf trip.


3 Things to Expect to Experience on Your SWA Retreat: An Amiga’s Story

Surf With Amigas Women's Surf and Yoga Retreats

For those of you who have been on a SWA retreat, you know they are unforgettable, often life changing experiences. We recently got to chat with two amigas, Kat Brown and Brooke Wright, who shared some of their favorite aspects of the retreat experience and what it means to them. Here are their top three takeaways.

1. THE Format

“I especially love the format,” Kat says. “I have so many logistics in my day to day life that having someone else take care of that is a dream.” Kat’s experiences with SWA have become especially unique over the years; “I love retreats, so much so that I’ve started leading my own (in collaboration with SWA)! I first started going on retreats when I needed to process some heavy personal stuff, and have always appreciated the time away from the usual grind.”

2. retreats open up space and time to work on specific goals and intentions

surf with amigas retreats
Photos by @bymonicaandrea

While enjoying the land of peeling lefts in Southern Costa Rica, Kat has been able to hone in on her yoga practice. She even had the opportunity to teach yoga during her retreat in the jungle, which had been a longtime dream of hers.

Brooke explains that her retreat experiences have always been about “self-care, slowing down, being inspired, and taking time to focus on one aspect of surfing at a time in a supportive community.”

Brooke emphasizes the impact of the retreats on her surfing life:

“What has struck me about retreats with Surf With Amigas is that I always feel like I belong, whereas when I surf at home sometimes I don’t feel that way. Going on an advanced retreat really showed me that as long as I’m bringing my best self and trying my best, I belong in the water, with amigas, no matter what. That’s what these retreats mean to me.”
surf with amigas retreats
Photos by @bymonicaandrea

3. forming friendships and connections

“It is amazing how quickly you can form community and strong friendships [in the retreat space],” Kat says. “As a single cis-female, sometimes it can be intimidating to travel to a new far-flung destination on my own. Having a group to meet up with has opened the door to new locations, places I’ve loved and will return to again and again.”

Learn more about all of our current surf & yoga retreat locations here.

Health Myths Debunked: 4 Surprising Truths Revealed

How do we prioritize our health through food? With seemingly endless options in grocery aisles, fad diets, TikTok trends, and other miscellaneous health advice bombarding us through media, it becomes extremely difficult to discern what we should be eating in order to properly nourish our bodies.

This week on the Second Breakfast Podcast with Surf With Amigas we got a chance to chat with Lisa Hoopes, a registered dietician who availed us with a cornucopia of nutrition and health facts. What follows below is but a sliver of her wisdom, but still 4 surprising and useful facts we gleaned from her chat. That being said, please keep in mind, we all have different bodies and preferences, so take any nutrition advice with a grain of salt! These pointers are catered to those who are interested in boosting their metabolic health and straying from processed foods.

surf with amigas retreats, nutrition

1. Avoid the “hateful 8 seed oils”

Once you start recognizing these 8 oils, you cannot stop. Be it sunflower, soybean, safflower, canola (rapeseed), peanut, palm kernel, corn, or cottonseed oil, these oils have a slippery tendency to hide themselves in most processed food items, even those advertised as “healthy,” like organic crackers or power bars. These seed oils are highly processed, and contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which can cause inflammation when consumed in large amounts over time. Lisa recommends to instead use more avocado, olive, or coconut oil. In our Second Breakfast podcast episode with Lisa, she explains a bit more about the origin of the seed oils into our diets:

“The kind of low fat, fat makes you fat phase that went on in the 80s, really was the introduction of seed oils coming into so many of our foods. And the reason for this is this narrative of fat makes you fat. They took out a lot of the natural really good fats, the saturated fats, the monounsaturated fats from products like dairy. So, full fat milk went to skim milk. Yogurt, full yogurt ,went to 0% fat yogurt. But it was the type of fat that changed in those products. They inserted these chemically altered polyunsaturated fatty acids from seed oils, and those seed oils are really damaging to our mitochondria, leading to major inflammation in our body.”

2. Alternative milks aren’t as good for us as we believe

When buying alternative milks, take note of added ingredients. To bolster consistency and flavor, oftentimes vegetable/seed oils, sugars and gums are added. Not only can some of these ingredients interfere with metabolic health (as described above), but some (I’m looking at you, too oat milk) are directly processed as sugar in the body, meaning you’ll also receive a large blood sugar spike with your hot beverage of choice in the morning.

If you do choose to consume dairy (or hop back on the bandwagon), try

  1. Dairy from grass-fed/finished cows, sheep, and goats
  2. Full fat, local dairy products
  3. Raw dairy products from a trusted, healthy source

Lisa recommends to avoid consuming:

1. Skim, low fat or nonfat dairy products (beneficial nutrients can often be removed)
2. Dairy from conventionally raised cows, sheep, and goats (this means the animals have been raised on grain, in an indoor environment, and are generally unhealthy animals)
3. Pasteurized or homogenized dairy products

surf with amigas retreats nutrition

3. Try a 12 hour intermittent fast

Lisa’s third recommendation, with the exception of those who are pregnant or have a serious health condition, is practicing a 12 hour fast, which most everyone can do. An intermittent fast is a period of time when we are not eating, and so we don’t have nutrients coming in from food and beverages. Lisa explains, “12 hours is kind of a sweet spot to start at, because it gives our body and our metabolism enough time to go from digesting everything to saying, hey, what else can I do in here to heal the body? What else can I do to clear up some inflammation? Also, at the 12 hour mark the body typically runs out of immediate energy to convert to ATP. So at this stage you’re able to access your stored energy as body fat, and your metabolism is working really well.” This kind of intermittent fasting can be used as a tool to help keep your body in a state of homeostasis. Also, this tip is incredibly easy to implement if we do it while we’re sleeping! 12 hours might seem like a long time to go without eating, but most of us are already doing this without even being aware of it. Longer fasts can be used to target additional healing benefits.

4. Your Indulgent Snacks May Not Be as Bad For You as You Think

After reading the previous facts, you may, like I did, have your head in your hands wondering how you could possibly make the right nutrition decisions. But don’t worry, it’s not all bad! If you do want to keep eating your crunchy, guilty pleasure snacks, you can still give yourself the green light to do so, within reason. If you choose to eat processed foods, turn that package over before buying and read the ingredients list. There are plenty of chips and other yummy snacks that don’t contain harmful seed oils!

To learn more about all things surf + health, check out the SWA Collective platform, or listen to the Second Breakfast podcast episode with Lisa here!

Insider Surf Travel Hacks from the Amigas Community

Travel can be overwhelming, especially when you add a 50 pound surfboard bag to the equation. There’s nothing quite like hauling your board bag through the airport; the experience is full of navigating long check-in lines, praying you don’t get stung with oversize luggage fees, and eventually wishing you brought an extra shirt, especially when you realize you sweated through the one you’re wearing. That being said, we all know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel after periods of long travel: an epic surf trip awaits! Here are some trips to lighten your load, literally, on your next voyage.

#1 don’t overpack your surfboard bag

This may be a controversial tip, but its efficacy has been thoroughly tested by several members of our team. Instead of weighing down your surfboard with clothes, bathing suits, and other items that you think will protect your boards from travel dings, opt for an extra carry-on or checked piece of luggage. While you may cringe at the thought of paying more baggage fees on top of an already pricey plane ticket, we highly recommend you disperse your belongings into several bags.

According to our founder Holly Beck, who has a lifetime of surf travel behind her, lightening your board bag load allows for easier handling (both for you and airline workers, who are in charge of delivering your bag safely to your destination). This hopefully means a lower risk of board dings, while also ensuring that you have an emergency supply of clothes and toiletries if your board bag or any other luggage doesn’t show. If you’re still worried about your boards (seemingly unprotected in the bag), try using recycled pieces of cardboard to provide more buffer.

surf with amigas retreats packing tips

#2 Prioritize sun protection, snacks and waterproof items

We all know the sun can be both our friend and enemy in the lineup. While I love nothing more than catching fresh rays on my buns or back, a lifetime of sun on unprotected skin is not so sustainable. We highly encourage covering up (especially during peak sun hours) with rash guards, leggings, a goofy hat, and of course a good zinc or sunscreen.

Bring snacks because, one, who doesn’t love having their favorite treats to look forward to after a big session? Two, your destination may not have the same food options as your home country, and especially in transit or upon landing, you’ll be wanting to keep your belly happy. It may sound excessive to some, but our yoga instructor Reesie swears by bringing tupperwares of pasta on her trips. Don’t slack on the snacks!

Finally, prioritize waterproof items. We highly recommend waterproof backpacks as versatile beach and travel bags. Our retreat locations especially have a tendency to be near the equator, where mold loves to grow on damp items that are left in the dark, forgotten corners of your room. Save yourself a ruined item and protect it instead with a waterproof covering.

surf with amigas retreats what to bring travel

#3 double down on health products

Being sick or injured in a foreign country, especially one without reliable healthcare systems, can be extremely anxiety-inducing. Be sure to pack all the essential health products unique to you, and then some. We highly recommend bringing preventative products like multivitamins, charcoal pills for belly protection, probiotics, electrolytes, and antihistamines, to name a few (you never know when hives may mysteriously strike).  Of course, at all SWA Retreats we have access to great first aid kits, but it’s never a bad idea to have your own stash of preventative products that may be difficult to find in rural areas.

#4 pack spares of essential items

Pack in twos, especially when it comes to surf items! Not only is it easy to lose items while on the road, but surf belongings have a particular risk of breakage and if you’re traveling to a rural zone you might not be able to replace these items easily. Be sure to bring extra fins, an extra leash, an extra plate and screw, and a little ding repair kit too!


Boost Your Surf Confidence With These 4 Practices

surf with amigas retreats

It’s normal to have pre-surf jitters, especially when the conditions may be challenging or you’ve been out of the water for a while. Boost your confidence and prepare yourself for your next big session or surf trip with these 4 tips!

try static breath holds

Recognize what happens to you, mentally and physically, when you hold your breath. Static breath holds can be performed underwater or on land in a place where you can sit calmly and relax. Be sure to do this with a buddy, and in a safe environment! By practicing breath holds, you are inviting your body to adapt in difficult or uncomfortable situations. Wiping out can be scary, and breath holding gives you the opportunity to manage how your body and mind respond to stress. This knowledge is power for the next time you experience a hold down underwater.

Learn to quiet your mind

Our minds can be our biggest obstacle or asset in the water. Surfing is a sport that demands both physical and mental endurance. Incorporating mindfulness techniques such as breath work and other relaxation/meditation exercises can help calm pre-surf jitters and facilitate composure in the water. By learning to recognize and accept your fears, manage stress, and maintain a relaxed state, you can approach each wave with greater confidence and clarity.

surf with amigas retreats

Practice visualization techniques

Visualization practices will help you dive more deeply into the mental aspects of surfing, and help boost confidence! When you have a spare few minutes in your day, try having a mental surf session! Imagine yourself riding the perfect wave, feeling the rush of adrenaline, and executing flawless maneuvers, or whatever your personal surf goal may be. Through visualization, you can build your mind-body connection, anticipate challenges, and take steps to honing your skills in the water.

Practice well-rounded training

Surfing is a full body sport, and it’s easy to lose surf and paddle endurance if you don’t have the opportunity to jump in the water frequently (as is often the unfortunate reality in our busy lives!) Practice building your strength and flexibility, in and out of the water. Cross-training will not only boost your readiness for that next session but will also bolster your health and longevity! Not to mention, by diversifying your physical activities you’ll reduce the risk of burnout or sport-specific injuries. Think of it as an  incentive to try something different while immersing yourself in a new community.

For more surf techniques and mindful practices, check out the Surf with Amigas Collective!