Breaking Cultural Barriers – SWA Sponsors Young Costa Rican Girl Dreaming of Going Pro

We are so proud to announce the sponsorship of up-and-coming Costa Rican surfer girl, Nazareth (“Naza”) Del Mar.

Naza is a 10 year old shredder from Pavones, Costa Rica that has dreams of becoming a professional surfer. The SWA sponsorship offers Naza’s family financial support, giving their daughter a chance to travel to different locations and compete in the national circuit of Costa Rica, while also being professionally coached by SWA instructor, Gabrielle Guyon. With this sponsorship, we hope to inspire girls and women of all ages and nationalities to achieve their surfing dreams and inspire others.

photo by @holalenita


Nazareth Del Mar Velasquez is the oldest of two girls. Her mother, Sylvia, was born and raised Costa Rica, and her father, Jonathan, is from Nicaragua. Nazareth only started surfing three years ago and participated in her first local competition just a year ago, but her love for the ocean comes from before she was born.

Nazareth was an active baby in the womb, constantly moving and kicking her mom’s belly. Her mom Sylvia found that whenever she entered the ocean, Naza would instantly cease her kicking. Since then, Nazareth has felt attracted to the sea but until recently, was never allowed to enter the water. Jonathan, her dad, has an enormous fear of the ocean and marine life. He doesn’t know how to swim and believed it safest for his family to avoid the sea.

Naza and her family. Photo by @holalenita

During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Naza’s parents lost their jobs.  With more and more time spent inside at home, they realized that there is more to life than work. They wanted to enrich their lives, take advantage of every day, and learn to be more open-minded and flexible. Wanting to ensure their kids also learned this valuable lesson, they realized they could no longer keep them out of the water, especially with a perfect left point-break in their backyard. Jonathan began to teach Naza the importance of bravery by overcoming his own fear of the ocean. Three years ago, they started taking surfboards with them into the water and eventually learned to surf together. Nazareth’s love for surfing and sharing the waves with her dad grew daily.

While learning to surf, Nazareth experimented riding both shortboards and longboards, and has come to love both. After only three years, she can already walk to the nose of her longboard, make cute turns with her shortboard, and even ride switch stance, all incredible talents for a young, self-taught surfer! Naza grew up watching Leilani McGonagle and Leon Glatzer surf, two professional surfers and Olympians also from Pavones. She continues to be inspired by them and dreams of having a life like theirs. Nazareth already knows she wants more for her future than her small and remote community can provide. She is different from other village kids, and her parents recognize and support that. When her parents asked if she was ready to put in the hard work to have the life of her dreams, she instantly replied with a big “YES!”

At the moment, Nazareth is one of the only young local girls surfing in Pavones.

In Latin America, it is uncommon to see girls practicing sports or doing manual labor. Culture dictates that these are activities for men. None of the other young girls from town surf, but Naza’s family thinks outside of cultural/social norms and is very supportive of her following her own path. Despite being the only local girl in the lineup, she claims she doesn’t mind surfing with the boys her age. It has only challenged her to surf more. However, from time to time, the boys aren’t the friendliest to her. They once told Naza she didn’t belong in the water and that she should go back home and stay in the kitchen. Some of the families that Naza goes to school with also don’t approve of her being a surfer. But none of their opinions stop Naza and her family from believing in her dream. Naza’s behavior has even started to inspire other young girls in Pavones to play sports.


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A Guru’s Guide to Surf Skincare

As surfers, we’re constantly in the sun. Most of us are accustomed to that fried chicken feeling you get after surfing for a few hours, those sessions where you kept claiming “just one more,” even while your skin roasts, turning alarming shades of red.

Although I love living close to the equator (8 degrees to be precise), my skin protests. My Irish ancestors weren’t doing me any favors. I just wasn’t built for the life of sun’s out buns out.

Because I refuse to stop doing what I love, in recent years I’ve finally started to prioritize skincare. On one of my last retreats in Nicaragua, I hit the jackpot of skincare wisdom. Bunched around the lunch table after surfing, a group of Amigas and I started chatting about our skin routines and efforts to keep our skin feeling safe. We began firing questions at our Amiga, Malissa, who works as an Esthetician.

Amiga squad in Northern Nicaragua
What follows are some of Malissa’s hacks to perfect your skin routine. Malissa emphasized that we’re all bound to age, form wrinkles, stretch marks and spots on our skin. We shouldn’t sacrifice living the way we want in an attempt to prevent the inevitable! But we can better protect ourselves with the tools (most importantly hats, sunscreen and rashguards) to keep our skin supple and protected.

Why do you think skin care is important, does your routine change when you spend more time in the sun? Did your routine change this week on the retreat?

I think skin care is very important. It clears skin impurities off the skin, helps keep the skin clear, helps with signs of aging, and you need to use SPF to help prevent skin cancer. When I’m in the sun more I definitely am using more SPF, I will use lighter feeling products, and alway have a hat on.

My routine was definitely a little more minimal this week.   More SPF, just one serum, light moisturizer and no exfoliants.  I just wanted to have fun this week and not think too much about my skin. I was also tired at the end of the night and I wanted less to do.

What are the best preventive steps you can take daily to protect your skin?

A good cleanser, exfoliant, toner, moisturizer, and SPF! Once you have that, you can think about adding in a vitamin C serum, eye cream, and a retinol.

What is the most common issue you see for people with sun damaged skin?

Definitely melanoma (brown patches that appear on the face) that are usually from sun damage from years ago. Most brands have product for them, but whatever you are using, you need to be using SFP so they don’t get worse. Laser would also be an option.

What’s is your favorite product(s) to bring on a surf trip?

I would normally do more at home, but on this trip I brought Green Envee Clarify Cleansing gel. It has lime and turmeric in it that help calm inflammation in the skin. I have rosacea so it is good for that. You can smell the lime in it, it smells SO GOOD!

Eminence Strawberry Rhubarb hyaluronic serum. It helps plum up the skin and is very hydrating. Plus it smells like strawberries!!!

Eminence Strawberry Rhubarb hyaluronic hydrator. A very light gel moisturizer that smells just like the serum and it’s a pretty pink color!

Eminence Hibiscus ultralift eye cream. A nice medium weight cream and it has a cooling roller ball applicator.

Sun Tegrity Milky Mineral Sun Serum Spray. It’s a light SPF you spray on, it goes on white but rubs in with a dewy finish. Also it smells like mango/papaya (I think I have a thing for fruit!).

Other things I’ve use on this trip were a good SPF stick as a touch up before and after surfing:

My Chelle Sun Shield Stick SPF 50,

COOLA Liplux SPF 30. Don’t forget your lips, ever.

Malissa’s surf trip essentials

Does vitamin C/hyaluronic acid/gua sha work?

Vitamin C is great, its good for dull skin, fine lines, skin damage, and uneven skin tone. Once you start using it, it will take a few weeks to start working. And remember to not mix it with retinol. You can use it in the morning and then use retinol at night. If you mix them your skin could get irritated.

Hyaluronic acid might just be one of my favorite things! It helps hydrate, plump up the skin, soften the skin, smooth fine lines and wrinkles.

I honestly don’t really know a lot about gua shua, I do think if you’re consistent with it, it’s helpful for puffiness, lines and lifting. I do know it feels great.

What is your favorite sunscreen, chemical or mineral? 

I personally like mineral sunscreen because I have rosacea, and I think mineral SPF is better for sensitive skin. That being said, I don’t really think one is totally better than the other, I think it’s just personal preference. You need to find what works best for you and your skin. I always go for a reef-friendly sunscreen.

Note: When searching for reef-friendly sunscreens, stay away from nanoparticle zinc! Although there is controversy over whether or not it is safe for human use, it most definitely is NOT reef safe. Look for labels and brands that advertise “non-nanoparticle.” 

Is laser/red light therapy (LED) a good option for people with skin damage?

I think laser and red light therapy is good option for most people. (But alway check with your esthetician first).

I’ve had laser, but it was for my rosacea, not for sun damage. It works extremely well. It works great on melasma too. Keep in mind you will need a few treatments and touch-ups from time to time. If you do have laser treatment, then you really need to make sure you are good about SPF after, or damage will just come back. That is something to consider before getting laser.

There are a lot of different LED options that have different uses. Green light therapy would be what you’d want to treat melasma. It helps slow the melanin forming cells in the skin. This will help the melasma fade. Red light therapy is for anti-aging, reducing inflammation and increasing collagen. Blue light is good for acne. It helps kill bacteria in the skin.

Do you recommend using more/less product? 

I recommend using the products that you like to use. If you are someone that is more minimal, I would recommend using a few really good things.  If you are someone that wants to do a 10 step skin care routine at night, do that. I don’t think skincare is one size fits all. I also think we go through different phases in life, so do what fits best for you at that time. Just like how I’m using less product on this surf retreat, I’ll go home and add more stuff in.  Do what works for you at the time. But you should at least do the basics: use SPF! Not just to prevent aging but also skin cancer.

Are natural skin products better?

I use mostly natural/organic skin care – maybe 95% of what I’m using is. There are a few things that I just can’t stop using that are not organic, like my OBAGI retinol (RETIVANCE). It is just so good!  This is embarrassing to say, but I also love Aquaphor! I had a surfboard hit me in the head a little over a year ago and after the stitches came out, I kept Aquaphor and SPF on it. I’ve never had anything heal up so fast.

In the end, it’s all about finding what works for you. Just have fun with it. Try things. See what you like. Use a good SPF sunscreen!

Who Are The Amigas? Q&A with Grace Lee


THIS MONTH WE’RE CHATTING Q+A STYLE WITH our friend grace who has joined swa retreats with the main goal being to reconnect with herself and to make new connections with others. STAY TUNED FOR MONTHLY 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?

I had actually been researching surf retreats and was ready to reserve a spot with a different group in Dominical area.  I asked my friend, Jaime if she was interested in joining me and found that for the exact same week she had already reserved with SWA – so she suggested I tag along with her! Best decision ever!

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

Holly and her wonderful staff, the awesome women I have met, the great knowledge shared in the clinics/lectures, feeling of community and FUN times! I had lost my connection to surfing for a few years with life happening… the goal for the Costa Rica retreat was to reconnect, which definitely happened. I wasn’t even half way through Costa Rica retreat yet and booked Morocco! The Morocco holistic retreat that I joined took that further and I’m finally feeling like ME again… it’s been a long time and it feels great!

Q: Describe the feeling you get from surfing…

Freedom… that’s the best way I can describe it as it’s difficult to put in words. When you catch a wave, you are in that moment and everything else is drowned out – you feel free and unhindered… as if you are a child again! I giggle riding down the line…!

Q: What are you most passionate about in life right now? The SWA community wants to know!

Making new connections and experiences through surfing, snowboarding, and travel adventures. Spending time with framily (friends + family)!

Q: What is your dream SWA retreat location?

Maldives! New Zealand! Holly knows this 🙂 

Q: What would you tell someone who is about to go on their first SWA retreat?

Continue reading “Who Are The Amigas? Q&A with Grace Lee”

Who Are The Amigas? Meet Katie Choate

We’re back again to catch up with more alumni amigas that you may have met on your retreat!

Stay tuned for monthly 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 suddenly lost my mom in September of 2018. I booked the Pavones retreat for May of that year. Being around womxm and learning from womxn is very comforting to me. I bonded with one of the surf instructors who had also suddenly lost her dad. It was special to be able to share those serious conversations but also share waves/beer/laugh with one another. It was an incredibly healing experience for me. (Hence why I booked the Morocco trip the week that I got home, haha.)

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

A: A lot of SWA retreat elements keep me coming back! I’ve become friends with the instructors, and it’s always fun to go on trips with friends… I honestly feel like the retreats are very reasonably priced for everything that’s included; instruction, video, food, lodging, yoga, etc… The destinations are so well researched and I feel like I’m set up for success… The food is delicious… Also, the retreats attract rad womxn!

Q: Describe the feeling you get from surfing…

A: Just, happy. I feel free and empowered and like I’m doing something I didn’t think I could do.

Q: What are you most passionate about in life right now? The SWA community wants to know!

A: Living in the Pacific Northwest, I’m most passionate about getting dialed in the backcountry (splitboarding, specifically). I’m spending a couple months with my partner in Revelstoke, British Columbia this winter so getting ready with continued avalanche awareness training, snow science education, and continuing to volunteer for Mt. Rainier Nordic Ski Patrol! I love snow.

Q: What is your dream SWA retreat location?

A: Batu Karas, Java

Q: What would you tell someone who is about to go on their first SWA retreat?

Continue reading “Who Are The Amigas? Meet Katie Choate”

SWA just announced Longboard Surf House Retreats for 2023

If you’re on our mailing list, you saw it first! We’ve officially posted ALL 2023 Longboard Surf House retreat dates on the schedule. Join SWA for an epic women’s surf retreat in Costa Rica in April, May, June, or July 2023!

Why so far ahead of time? This retreat location fills up QUICK!

  • Left point-breaks in the backyard
  • Delicious food
  • Refreshing pool
  • Cute accommodations
  • Jungle adventures

Plus the usual super frothy SWA team of badass ladies to support and encourage you in the surf!

Check out the dates by clicking here.

See you in the jungle in 2023!

~  P U R A  V I D A  ~