Inspiring Surfers: Advanced Tube Riding Retreat

14 charging amigas + 1 super cool amigo joined us at the Northern Nicaragua retreat location for a week-long shred fest! We had a record breaking week with the most tubes ever ridden, the gnarliest waves ever taken, and the best turns ever completed. This inspiring group of surfers spent the week pushing their limits and supporting each other along the way. We can’t wait to do a retreat like this again!

Enjoy this recap of the Advanced Retreat shred-fest in Nicaragua!

Most of our retreat locations are open to surfers of ALL levels and have plenty of shortboard-able waves close by. If you’re a fellow shortboarder and feel inspired to join a retreat and level up your technique, contact us here to see which retreat might be the best fit for you!

This Summer, B.Y.O. Everything to Combat Single-Use Plastics

In honor of Earth Day we teamed up with mom, surfer, and entrepreneur Audrey Hills, to talk about plastic consumption for beach-lovers like us.

There’s really no better way to end an epic day of surfing than a cold beverage and a tasty snack on the beach with friends.  But what happens when you show up unprepared for the sunset session?

Cheetos, McDonald’s, single-use sporks, and plastic bags happen.

Love it or hate, surfing is becoming more popular by the minute.  More surfers = more people using our beaches around the world.  While you may guard your home beach like a hawk, you might not be so protective of places you visit along the way.  Everyone who surfs has witnessed a pile of garbage by someone who didn’t care or know better.  

So, how do we fight the omnipresence of plastics in our ocean and on our beaches?

While organizations like the Changing Tides Foundation are able to appeal to people on mass through social media and campaigns like The Plastic Swear Jar Initiative that kicks off on Earth Day each year, they recognize that we’ve all got to do our part to change our own behavior.

That’s why this summer, you should join the B.Y.O. Revolution (we’re not talking about just wine)… 

If you already updated your consumption habits to include carrying reusable water bottles, coffee cups, straws, cutlery, or grocery bags, the next step is changing how you roll to the beach, on trips, and on adventures with food and drinks.

If you’re still stopping to grab something before you get to the beach from a burger joint, taco shop, or sushi spot, chances are you are served your grinds in some kind of non-reusable wrapping.  Many restaurants have switched to using recycled or biodegradable containers, but finding a recycling bin that will take those containers at the beach is very unlikely, especially if they haven’t been rinsed off.  So what do you do?  You do the “right thing” to keep the beach clean and chuck them in the bin, only to join the piles of containers in the landfill.

So, what should you do instead?

  • Invest in a decent cooler bag to bring your own food – it’s healthier, cheaper, and produces less plastic.  Bonus points if your cooler is made from sustainable materials and gives back, like this one.
  • Use reusable containers that you already have – mom’s Tupperware, cleaned out yogurt containers, previously used zip-lock pouches (the kind nuts come in) – to pack your own lunch and snacks.
  • Make it easy to use all your reusables like straws, cutlery, wine tumblers, etc. by storing them in your beach cooler.
  • If you have to stop and grab something ask the restaurant to box your food in your own container if they allow that.
  • Pack and carry home all your rubbish so that you can clean, sort, and reuse or recycle everything you have.
  • Never ever leave home without your reusable water bottle, if you have one like this Hydro Flask, you can use it for margaritas or hard kombucha later in the day because the stainless steel won’t take on the flavor the next day.
  • Take your reusable gear and a cooler on your surf trips this summer.  The countries where we love to surf the most are often the most damaged by plastic consumption.

While recycling all the things we use on daily basis seems like a great idea, the fact is that most of the things we try to recycle don’t actually get re-made into anything.  Of the 267.8 million tons of municipal solid waste generated by Americans in 2017, only 94.2 million tons were recycled or composted according to the EPA. In fact, only 8% of plastics used were actually recycled.

In foreign countries, recycling is as rare as a toilet you can put toilet paper in.  If you have traveled to remote surf destinations in places like the Philippines, Indonesia, Panama, or Mexico, you will have seen firsthand the effect of plastic waste on our favorite waves and nearby communities. 

The point is that the less you use, the less you have to try to recycle (or falsely believe that you recycled).

With more surfers in the world than ever before, we know our beaches will take a hit.  That’s why you should set an example for the newbies by packing in any trash you bring to the beach and by planning ahead to create less waste in the first place. 

You really can’t lose bringing your own everything because it not only means cleaner oceans, it means you’ll eat healthier and have more energy for your next shred session.  Plus, you’ll always be prepped to enjoy one of the world’s greatest simple pleasures: a cold beer when you come in from a surf.

___

BIO

Audrey Hills is a Californian attorney living in Sydney, Australia with her two children.  Audrey is an avid surfer and is committed to combating ocean plastic pollution and establishing a woman’s place in the water.  She recently launched the Coolio and her company, Everyday Makai on Kickstarter and was 100% funded within 24 hours. She also runs a blog dedicated to mothers who surf, travel, and refuse to lose their wild side called Surf Stoked Moms.

Please check out the author’s Kickstarter Campaign which ends April 28, 2021.  She has created a lightweight cooler bag called the Coolio that is made from recycled materials.  The Coolio is aimed to change beach and surf travel habits by encouraging surfers to bring their own everything.  

 

 

Meet the Owners: Holly Beck

There’s no shortage of inspiration when we look at the lives of SWA’s Co-Owners, Jackie George and Holly Beck. Now that you’ve all met Jackie, we’re excited for you to learn more about SWA’s founder, Holly! This former pro-surfer and mom of two has many incredible stories to tell. 

 

MEET HOLLY BECK

Hometown: As a child, Palos Verdes, CA. Currently rotating between Aposentillo, North Nicaragua and Pavones, South Costa Rica.

How did you learn to surf? Well my mom told me that surfing was for boys, not something a nice young lady should be doing, and that if I surfed, I’d never get a boyfriend. “You should be sitting on the beach looking cute in a bikini, not out competing with the boys.”

Holly with her first surfboard

By the time I was 15 I’d bought myself a board and wetsuit from a garage sale and had friends with licenses to drive me to the beach. I was still a little wary that no one was going to like me if I surfed though, especially since there were very few girls that surfed in the mid 90s. Luckily, a couple of boys from the surf team took me in and I threw everything into surfing. I was totally obsessed. I papered my walls in surf mag photos, did every school report I could on something related to surfing, and really found healing in the ocean. I picked it up quickly and started competing right away. I got 2nd place in my first contest and then became super driven to get better and win!

 

 

Favorite board at the moment? I like to ride different things. I get tired of any one feel. I’ve been riding a 5’4 round tail twin fin quite a bit lately, but also enjoying the glide of finless boards.

What’s playing on the speaker while you gear up for a surf? I’ve been into Rising Appalachia. Folky, female, and has a bit of a political stance.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? To travel through time and space with the snap of a finger. Go back to that swell last week in Nicaragua and get tubed. Dip over to Pavones when it’s firing. Go give my kids a quick cuddle when they’re spending time with their dad, etc.

Dawn patrol or sunset session? Dawn patrol without question.

Sunrise surf in Nicaragua

Name a surfer that inspires you- I love the way steph gilmore is always smiling, plus her super stylish but also radical approach to riding waves. My favorite male surfers are the ones that ride everything, can be goofy, but also rip. Ryan Burch and Rob Machado.

Wildest surf story… go! Ooooo that’s a tough one. I have a lot of really wild surf stories from when i was on tour. Lately surf stories are a lot more tame, especially since I often have kids along for the ride. Probably the wildest story lately was when I was at the beach with my kids and the swell was pumping and my almost 4 yr old grom Soleo really wanted to surf.

I had a 7’6 with us on the beach. The waves were overhead and peeling down the line but there was a good channel and I knew the spot well (and most of the people who were out). I put him on the nose of my board and we paddled out. We had to pop over a couple big whitewash waves but then we paddled super fast between sets and made it out. We waited and waited, and people were tripping on us being out there in such big waves. Finally, a good one came. There was someone on it, but it was a friend that I knew wouldn’t mind us sharing. We dropped in on a well overhead wave and rode it all the way down the point. Soleo was super stoked and so was mom!

Holly and Soleo surfing in Pavones

Inspiring, right?

To learn more about the other amazing surf ladies that make up the SWA team, click here!

Meet the Owners: Jackie George

They’re the SWA power duo! Surf With Amigas Co-Owners, Jackie George and Holly Beck, have been running ladies surf & yoga retreats together for almost 10 years. Both ladies typically split their time between Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and California- running retreats, surfing, and living the sweet & simple life.

We think you’ll love this Q&A with them. First up is Jackie!

Meet Jackie George

Hometown: San Clemente, California

How did you learn to surf? I grew up at the beach and learned to surf so young that I barely remember learning! I do remember early mornings at San O with my dad and his buddies. I remember the doyle sessions at Junior Lifeguards. I remember my first real surfboard was the Hobie Peter Pan Slug (still love that board). I didn’t really take surfing too seriously until High School, when my girlfriends and I would get dropped off at Trestles and spend long days on the beach. We all loved surfing and pushed each other to get better. To this day, we’re still close friends and love surfing together. 

Favorite board at the moment? My new Christensen log that I scored in a trade. I’ve also been indoctrinated into the twin fin revolution program here in Costa Rica.

What’s playing on the speaker while you gear up for a surf? Cardi B, Yoncé, or some dirty dirty dancehall beats. I’m also always up for praising Jah a bit before a surf.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Teleportation. Or breathe underwater. Or know every language.

Dawn patrol or sunset session? DP is always more reliable… but when sunset comes together, it doesn’t really get much better.

Jackie- Sliding into Sunset

Name a surfer that inspires you: I’m inspired by the people that can surf any craft in any conditions and have a good time. I’m inspired by the people twice my age that can surf twice as long as me, and I’m inspired by the people that only come out when the waves are properly pumping. I love watching good longboarders ride shorter boards in heavy waves. I’m a sucker for a relaxed style, and anyone that can do a cheater five in the tube. I’m also inspired by ladies that come on the retreat and look at surfing with a fresh perspective. Inspo everywhere!

Favorite quote: “Be here now.”

Stay tuned for the next Q&A with SWA’s other half, Holly Beck!

Jackie’s Story: Surf & Travel in Morocco

Are you ready to get inspired for travel? We’re headed back for more retreats in Morocco this fall, October (2021), and are SO excited for another incredible surf & travel experience.

In the excerpt below, Surf With Amigas Co-Owner, Jackie George, tells her account of the incredible journey from the USA to Morocco for SWA’s retreats back in 2019.

 

Our trip to Morocco was epic.

There’s no other word that can properly describe it. I knew traveling with SWA instructors, Alex, Coco, and Michelle, would be perfect. Two regular footers, and two goofy footers; the perfect balance of wild and chill. We decided to arrive in Morocco about ten days early for a little pre-retreat adventure, and to get our bearings on a new continent. Coco and I flew from California to Madrid, and met up with Michelle in an airbnb downtown.

Traveling from the USA over to Europe and staying for a few days is the perfect way to explore more and deal with jet lag before heading to morocco. I recommend it!

Normally around 9 pm, I start to wind down for bedtime, but that’s not how the Spanish operate. So, thanks to the time difference, most nights we ate dinner at 10pm, followed by hours of laughing and roaming through the cobblestone streets. After Madrid, we made our way to the south of Spain for a couple more memorable nights with SWA surf instructor, Alex, in her home turf.

The trip to Spain was short but jam-packed (I think we barely slept). In a flash, the four of us were on our way to Tarifa, where we’d take a ferry to Tangiers, Morocco. 

Arriving to Morocco by ferry was like a scene from a movie. The Moorish architecture and sounds of prayer heightened our senses as we bobbed our way across the straight of Gibraltar. When we arrived, chaos ensued (as it normally does when you arrive to a place where everyone wants to help you). A few hours later we were on our way south, in a rental car we had delivered to us. I’ll never forget that first meal at the gas station passing through Tangier. All the food was fabulous during the trip, but we all agreed that gas station meal was the best meal of the month!

The road trip down the coast was cruisy.

We had no plans, just knew we wanted to get to a point break because there was swell on the way. The point breaks are in the south of the country, so we had a good eight hours of driving that day. We had heard of a wave in a town north of Essaouira, so at some point we decided to exit the highway and call it a night. In retrospect, it’s a bit uncharacteristic of us to not have had a place to stay- normally we’d book a hotel or airbnb and save the trouble of asking around. The phones weren’t working and it was about 10 pm. We had just gotten our first (of many) speeding tickets of the trip and were starting to wonder if we’d even find a good place to stay. We pulled into a gas station and found some girls to ask. They immediately saw our stack of surfboards on the car, and directed us to Mehdi’s place, a guesthouse for surfers. 

We found ourselves completely enthralled by the rich culture all around us- colorful pottery, flavorful food, hot tea all day, and winding marketplaces.

The pre-retreat adventure that was meant to be a few different stops along the coast ended up being dominated by our stay in Safi. We had everything we wanted at this gorgeous Moroccan guesthouse. The owner, Mehdi, who put us in “Kelly Slater’s room,” took us surfing everyday, and sent cookies and tea to our room every evening. While waiting for the point break to turn on, we found ourselves completely enthralled by the rich culture all around us- colorful pottery, flavorful food, hot tea all day, and winding marketplaces.

We got scrubbed down at a local spa with Mehdi’s wife, and bathed our wetsuits in the rosewater fountain after surfing. My favorite aspect of the stay in Safi was the lack of tourists. We were totally out of our comfort zones in a new city on the coast of north Africa, and totally loving it. We stayed till the last possible moment that we could and wound up scoring waves on the very last morning.

side-of-the-road Camel rides? we’re in!

After saying our good byes to our new Safi family, we made our way down the coast to Imsouane, the retreat location! We had a villa to get to and a couple of retreats to run. During this leg of the journey we saw a guy with some camels on the side of the road, so we stopped for a quick lap on the camels to break up the drive. We got lost for a few more hours in a countryside full of argon fields and goats in the trees before we finally arrived to the retreat villa in Imsouane- the Dar Zitoun.

We crashed hard that first night in Imsouane, and I woke up at sunrise to check the surf. I knew immediately we were going to have perfect retreats. The point break is the perfect set up- it’s a super long, perfect right. Maybe the longest wave in SWA retreat location history. The wave is a bit slower, which makes it just dreamy for long boarding. That first session by myself was pure magic, and every session after that did not disappoint. 

-Jackie George

 

The retreat villa is totally fabulous, the food is delicious, the cultural experience is so rich, and the wave is right out front. What more could you want from a SWA retreat location? Us instructors love going to new locations for retreats and Morocco was exactly the adventure we were craving. We knew a few days into the first retreat, we’d have to come back for more.

Join us for a retreat in Morocco this October (2-9 & 9-16, 2021) to experience the magic with SWA!