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!


Elevating Female Surfers Who Are Breaking Stereotypes: A Visual Project

When we’re asked to collaborate with a few inspiring women in Northern Costa Rica to support a project that elevates the reality of diverse lineups of female surfers, we immediately said YES.
Our friend Ivana +  her team recently created a set of fine photography prints (soon to be transformed into a gorgeous coffee table book) that are being used to tell a different story about women’s surfing than traditional marketing tells. The project is meant to encourage girls and women around the globe to free themselves of stereotypes and limitations of their engagement in sports and recreation.

Below you can learn more about the project from Ivana herself-

Continue reading “Elevating Female Surfers Who Are Breaking Stereotypes: A Visual Project”

New SWA Instructor Releases Surf Film

Surf With Amigas Costa Rica

One of our newest surf instructors, Florida grom Jazmine Dean,  just spent her first season working retreats and adventuring with the Surf With Amigas crew down in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. She created this super rad little surf film and just released it last week! Enjoy the film and a note from Jaz below-

Surf with amigas x Jazmine

Pura Vida!


My life changed in the season I spent down here as a first time Surf With Amigas instructor just as much as Amigas often say their lives change during retreats. I’m currently still down in Southern Costa Rica and I’ve spent more consecutive months living here than I have spent living in any other foreign country before. I spend my free days in-between retreats almost the same as I spend my, “work”, days during retreats, and most of my closest friends down here were formed through the connections and roots that SWA has created here in the local community.

This film barely scratches the surface of how this life has reconnected me to my roots as a soul surfer and the good times had. I understand surfing and have for a long time, but these retreats are just as much about personal growth as they are about surfing a wave, and for that, I thank the guests, our Amigas, so much.

I’m most grateful of all for the women I’ve met through the retreats and I took a little from each person I spent time with. It’s possible that some of you reading this were on some of the retreats I worked at and maybe even appear in a scene or two! Anyways, please enjoy the film and thanks for watching.

Pura Vida,


Books to Inspire Your Next Surf Adventure

Need some new reads to get hyped for your next surf adventure? SWA Instructor Coco has shared her favorite surf-centric books!


In Search Of Captain Zero

a surfer’s  road trip beyond the end of the road

By Allan C. Weisbecker

My favorite surf book ever. This book really captures the essence of surf travel and it opened up my mind to the wild magic of Mexico. 

On his journey from New York to Central America in search of a long lost friend, Allan finds himself in some wild places, surfing empty waves and gathering clues of his dear friend Captain Zero’s whereabouts along the way. This book is hilarious and entertaining from beginning to end and it really inspired me. I still dream of driving through Mexico and Central America! Maybe one day. As far as I know Captain Zero is still living there in Mexico- my sister ran into him a few years ago in Panama and they surfed together.

Bustin’ Down the Door

By Wayne RABBIT Bartholomew

I read this book while living in Hawaii. The author, “Rabbit”, is an Australian surf legend who writes about his adventures in Hawaii in the winter of 1975 where he was almost chased out, first by locals, then by huge waves crashing through his front door in the night.

After reading this book I moved to Australia and eventually met Rabbit at Southern Cross University where I was studying Sports Management “surfing studies”. I remember during his open discussion he asked the students if we could leave our desks and sit in a circle on the floor instead. Legend indeed.

Barbarian Days A Surfing Life

By William Finnegan

“The particulars of new places grabbed me and held me, the sweep of new coasts, cold, lovely, dawns. The world was incomprehensibly large, and there was still so much to see. Yes, I got sick sometimes of being an expatriate, always ignorant, on the outside of things, but I didn’t feel ready for domestic life, for seeing the same people, the same places, thinking more or less the same thoughts, each day. I liked surrendering to the onrush, the uncertainty, the serendipity of the road.” — Finnegan

This quote taken from Barbarian Days really sums up the excitement of surf travel. Never knowing what is around the next corner, traveling to new places, exposing yourself to new cultures, and embracing the unexpected. I read it in a just a few days! After reading I starting thinking about surfing bigger waves and began training a few weeks later too!

How Three SWA Instructors Found Themselves Chasing the Waves of Their Lives at G-Land

We didn’t sleep that first night. The ground shook from the power of the crashing waves and when we finally walked down to the beach at first light, the bay was stacked to the horizon with perfect lines. We counted seven waves, each an identical copy of the previous, peeling perfectly along the point. A crew of older guys approached.

“Where are you girls surfing? Tiger Tracks? It’s a mellow right-hand point where the women and children surf,” they said. We told them no. We’d come to surf G-Land.

G-Land, off the coast of Java, was our promised land. There were three of us with our spirits synchronized and ready to venture to somewhere new: the exotic Delia Bense-Kang, part Mexican, Korean, and German, who’d grown up surfing the rough seas of Northern California and now works for the Surfrider Foundation. Then there was the gorgeous Silvia Yom, a well-traveled and talented filmmaker and photographer from Los Angeles. And myself, Alex Kelly, known as the fiery Spaniard, who, having finished my degree in Oceanography, started a surf school in southern Spain. We’d all connected by working for Surf With Amigas,an agency dedicated to inspire women in surfing and life through surf and yoga retreats.

As we boarded the fast boat full of dudes we could tell that it was a rare occurrence to see three single girls going to G-Land. Everyone was filled with anticipation, nerves, and hopes of scoring the waves of their lives. Picture perfect hollow barrels – big, long, and fast– with magical conditions were rumored for the next few days. The history and the vibe of transient surfers passing through to ride this dreamy barrel was palpable and the proof lay in a smattering of surf posters on the walls and broken boards strewn around.

In the morning the tide was too low to surf so everyone gathered to watch while sipping their coffee. Conversations consisted of contemplating what board to ride, best entry and exit strategy, where to sit. We did our best to eavesdrop and gather knowledge to build our plan of attack.

Excited but terrified, we eventually made it out…without actually realizing how big it was. With our eyes always set on the horizon we scratched over the top of the first set. There were a few older guys just charging and getting great rides. They didn’t look like they were in good shape but they were ripping. I felt so inspired by them. I was sitting the farthest out because I didn’t want to get worked on the inside and before I knew it, the horizon turned dark, signaling a huge set on the way.

I was too far out to catch any of the first waves that rolled in but the third wave was bigger and I knew I was in the perfect spot. I don’t know what got into me but something clicked and without thinking I just turned around and went for it.

For an instant, everything slowed down and every action and movement followed the previous one. I felt the lift and wind in my face as I cruised all the way down to the bottom of the wave. It started to suck up as it hit the reef and I tried to set my rail and get high to pass the section but it was too late and I wasn’t making it. I could feel the wave collapsing behind me so I straightened out to get as far away as I could from the lip. Then I waited to get hit by the avalanche of whitewater behind me. It slammed me down hard on the reef, but luckily butt first, and it bounced me right back up again. I grabbed the board and paddled back out for more. I caught another one right off the bat that aligned itself beautifully all the way into the channel.

As I paddled back out again I looked toward the lineup and saw a big one coming through. Everyone was eyeing it hungrily as one of the guys took off and ended up flying over the falls. Delia happened to be next in line and I yelled at her, “Send it!” She took off super late, made the drop, and disappeared into the barrel.

It all came together that day and we felt in tune with the ocean, catching one wave after another. The offshore wind was blowing into crystal-clear blue water, creating a wave you could only imagine in your wettest of surf dreams. Our friend Silvia was on the boat right in the lineup cheering and shooting the most epic surf shots. After a few days, we’d earned our places in the lineup and felt right at home with the crew at Bobby’s surf camp. And as all swell cycles come and go, so do these momentous life experiences. The trip confirmed our beliefs in taking life as it comes, to be open to whatever the world has to offer and live for what makes you feel alive and present. If you feel it, just send it.

Photos by Silvia Yom