Freediving to Sunken Ships in the Gulfo Dulce

Water photos by @tahoeoutdooryoga

As our panga skimmed across the open expanse of the Gulfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica, I happily welcomed the view of the flat, glassy ocean that lay ahead. It pained me to admit it, but after months of non-stop surfing and coaching Amigas surf retreats, I had had a bit too much of a good thing. My paddle muscles were ready for a break and I couldn’t be more excited to enjoy some ocean time that didn’t involve waves.

I was on my way to participate in 4-day freediving and spearfishing course.  Although I had no formal freediving or spearfishing experience (besides that which comes along with snorkeling or the occasional SCUBA dive), properly learning both was a goal scrawled in the pages of my journals from previous years. I planned on joining the group with two other friends, also with limited experience, but all of us eager to learn more about how to deliberately sink below the surface and stay there, using only the gifts of our bodies and breath. 

My goal for the trip was to become better equipped with knowledge that would enable me to unlock a new facet of ocean experience. I’m no professional big wave surfer. I’m not accustomed to impressively long hold-downs, but still, I wanted to become more comfortable in the uncomfortable, not only in my surfing but also in the ocean in general. I’m also a fish lover and was excited to learn more about identifying fish and catching my own food, not just by standing on shore with a line in the water but totally immersed in the ocean, “evening the playing field” so to speak between the hunter and the hunted.

I feel that freediving, spearfishing, and surfing are three activities that perfectly blend. They are complementary, yet distinct avenues for engaging with the marine environment.

Continue reading “Freediving to Sunken Ships in the Gulfo Dulce”

Who Are The Amigas? Q&A with Roni Gold

We’re catching up with alumni amigas that you may have met on your retreat!

Stay tuned for more stories and updates from our good friends across the globe.

Q: Think back to when you attended your first SWA retreat. Why did you book that trip? What was that first retreat experience like for you?

A: I grew up in Florida, consistently around water. It has always kept me grounded and makes me feel at home. I learned to surf in college. It became my new passion and joy in my 20’s. I traveled and surfed after college and had the time of my life. While traveling I met my husband. We fell in love and had two boys. My boys changed my life. I became “mom” which was the greatest gift but my priorities were no longer surfing and traveling… life was all about raising them and working. I lost a little bit of who I was during that time and there came a point where I needed to get that back. That’s when I discovered SWA. I was nervous to travel alone again but as soon as I did it I felt alive! The girls at SWA immediately encouraged me to get out in the water. They made me feel comfortable surfing again and it was exhilarating!!

Surfing is like riding a bike in some sense but it can be scary to get back out there after a long hiatus, especially when you are alone. With SWA you are never alone. You always have a crew cheering you on. My soul was on fire again and I felt like I was no longer just “mom”, I was Roni. The girl who loves surfing, music, travel and adventure. The retreat only got better from there…I met some of the most interesting and inspiring women, ate excellent food, did yoga, went lava boarding (a first for me) and much more. The entire retreat was well organized and there was never a dull moment. I felt completely fulfilled when I returned home and could not wait for my next SWA experience!

Q: Now that you’ve been on several SWA retreats, what keeps you coming back?

A: These girls know waves! They know exactly what the tides will be, when to go out and where to go. I don’t even have to think about what board to use. They are so on it! It’s such a comforting feeling going out to a new break and having them guide you to the exact spot to sit to catch the best wave. They also know where it will be less crowded and where not to go. I seriously have the best time surfing with SWA guests and coaches. It’s just all around fun! I also love how they record your waves so you can really see how you surf and actually try to improve your surfing. But…that’s only 1 reason why I keep coming back. There are a million other reasons. : )

Q: Describe the feeling you get from surfing…

Continue reading “Who Are The Amigas? Q&A with Roni Gold”

Practice Yin Yoga with Reesie

Yin Yoga for the Hips

Unwind with another virtual Yin Yoga class brought to you by SWA instructor Reesie and her adorable lil’ pup Ruban. Although we can’t practice Yin Yoga in the jungle with all of you as usual right now, we’re stoked to have access to the next best thing… which is Reesie’s donation-based Yin class right at home! Good music playlist and all. This hour-long Yin style class is centered around the hips.

Reesie is accepting donations for her classes through Venmo (@cherise-Richards) or PayPal ([email protected]) but in her own words, “…if you can’t, dude I get it. Either way, hope this feels good!”.

If you missed Reesie’s most recent shoulder class, you can find it here. Enjoy!



What I’m Riding – Holly Beck’s High Performance Twin Fin

What I’m Riding – A High Performance Twin Fin

Up until recently I would have told you that I don’t really like twin fins. Any time I’d ever tried a “fish”, it was fun, but just not as high performance as I wanted a board to feel. Sure, they paddled well and went fast down the line. They were also very loose. So loose, that if I wanted to do a quick bottom turn and hard “off the top” turn, the board would just slide out on me. I felt like I always had to hold back and surf more conservatively.

Of course, time passes and my pro surfing career is now 10 years in the past. I, along with my surfing, have matured and my prime focus isn’t quite as much about smashing the lip as enjoying the feel of the ride, including riding a variety of different surfboards. Lately I pulled an old twin fin out of the back of my quiver that I’d owned for 20 years but never really liked much. It’s not quite as wide as a Lis “fish” (for what that means see below), but still qualifies as a fish. I found that relying on more front foot pressure to control the rail made it more surf-able and actually fun, even in hollow waves. See video below.

Around the same time I’d been surfing a bigger hollow high performance sandbar wave in Nicaragua and there was a French pro out absolutely ripping. He looked to be riding something alternative and I asked him, “what are you riding?” It turned out to be a “Plan B” by Pukas – a round tail, narrower twin fin. I immediately sent the link to my shaper in Costa Rica – Randy Walker – and asked him to make me one. He did some of his own research, tweaked it a bit, and the result is the board I’m riding in the first video. It has become my favorite board to ride. Even though I had ordered it with the hollow beach breaks of Nicaragua in mind, it seems to also work really well in the long sloping walls of Pavones.

If you’re interested in what it means for a surfboard to be a “fish” and the differences between a traditional fish and the modern version, keep reading!

The Original Fish Design

You of course will have heard of a “fish”. This board was designed by San Diegan surfer/shaper Steve Lis in 1967. It was originally designed as a kneeboard, but began to be surfed standing up. The standard features are a shorter length, wider tail, and two fins set wide apart (compared to a standard shortboard). These boards paddle well and feel very fast and loose. They have to be ridden a little differently than a high performance shortboard because if you push on the tail hard, you’ll likely slide out. Here’s a video snippet from the film “Hydrodynamica” showing the fish in use. Click here for Vimeo video.

The MR Fish

Then along came Mark Richards. He wanted a board that would be a hybrid of a single fin and a fish. During the 1976/77 Hawaii season, he redesigned the fish, creating a board with a narrower tail and the two fins closer together, then went on to win a world title on it. Of course in 1980 the three-fin “thruster” design came along as an even better options, and twin fins were relegated to shadows until the hipster movement brought them back into the spotlight.

Here’s a full 15 min documentary on Mark Richards and original high performance twin fin:


Girls Surf Trip To Australia – Funny Video from a new potential Instructor – You want to watch!

We receive emails from potential surf and yoga instructors all the time, but there was one we received recently that really caught our eye. This submission is from DaniRose, a senior at UCSB who will hopefully be added to team as an instructor as soon as she graduates. We hope you’ll get to meet her at some point next year. In the meantime, enjoy this cute and funny video of a trio of girls on a surf trip in Australia : sleeping in a car, on the beach, and preparing for a night on the town using the beach shower. Enjoy!

As females in a heavily male dominated sport, we find there is often an unfair expectation that we keep everything cool and collected. It seems a question always looms in the air: “Can you hang with the boys?” As a result, we normally take EXTRA care not to slip up and show any faults. However, we’re doing something different this time. In protest to this pressure, we have excluded nothing from this Australia edit. In between surf clips, watch us fumble with our pop-up tent, debate soy lattes, and… absolutely rip nonetheless. It’s real and it’s us– welcome to GRL PWR.

Always Pull Into the Tube – A message from 3 young girls (and SWA)

I’ve watched this family of three young girls grow up learning to surf in Nicaragua. They are so inspiring, funny, and they charge! To get in the mood for our upcoming advanced Tube Riding Clinic beginning next Saturday, here’s a message from the three young girls….. “Always Pull Into the Tube!!!!” Enjoy…

The Resano sisters — 15-year-old Valentina (Valen), 13-year-old Candelaria (Cande) and 10-year-old Maxima grew up in the wave-rich zone around Popoyo in southern Nicaragua. Their father Manny, an Argentinian big-wave charger, had them surfing from very early ages, and now, in addition to traveling around the world and doing regular contests, the three are becoming known as some of the best younger big-wave girl surfers in the world. (Valen received an alternate invite for the Red Bull Queen of the Bay, to be held at Waimea Bay if it breaks — which could be next week.)

That said, they’re still kids. And sometimes, left to their own devices, kids can get kinda whacky and creative and funny, which is exactly what the video above is. “This past south swell season, we decided not to do that many surf contests and spend more time in quality waves,” said dad Manny. “I don’t know if that’s the right decision for a competitor, but you can be sure that I was stoked about it. We traveled to many places in Nicaragua, places where people don’t surf, it was a great experience.”

Blog by Kate Erwin of on Surf With Amigas Retreats

We recently had Kate Erwin from Cool Hunting pop in to join us on a retreat. She wrote a blog about her experience. Here’s an excerpt. Click the link to read the whole blog:

“Between the surfing, horseback riding, meals, beers on the beach, yoga classes and the overall adventure of Surfing With Amigas, there’s an incredible sense of camaraderie and support. George says this is due to surfing—and the surf lifestyle—being so all-encompassing, “Surfing to me is everything: it’s meditation, it’s exercise, it’s worship, it’s a way to play in nature, it’s spending time with loved ones, it’s challenging, it’s fun, it’s mindless, it’s mindful, it’s a way to connect with people from all over the world, it’s empowering, and it’s a total reset.”


Magnific Rock October 1-8


Week one of our fall/winter season kicked off with a wonderful group of ladies including a group from Alaska celebrating a 50th birthday who fell in love with surfing, as well as some awesome returning Amigas. There was no shortage of activities from sailboat rides to helping out the local Nica Surf Club.


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