Q&A with Holly Beck: From Pro Surfer to Surf Therapy Intern

After a career as a professional surfer, SWA Founder Holly Beck ran off to Central America to find herself. She built Surf With Amigas (and a family) over the course of 11 years living between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. In 2021 she decided to move back to calling California home base.

The ocean was always a place holly went to escape and find healing.

Now, she’s pursuing a Master’s in Counseling on the path to become a licensed surf therapist. She’s interning with Groundswell Community Project and partnered with Jess Ripley to create and lead surf therapy programs in Southern California.

Q + A with Holly

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in working with women in the world of holistic surf coaching?

A: After spending the last 12 years involved in surf coaching, i’ve realized that beyond the physical tips like looking down the line, putting more weight on the front foot, and all the other common bits of coaching advice that i’m typically giving Amigas, there is often a mental component as well. Whether it’s the un-helpful voice of our inner-critic, a fear of bigger waves, anxiety about getting in someone’s way, etc., there’s a lot going on in our heads that affects our surfing performance. I’ve been really interested in exploring that internal stuff both in my own life and then also adding it to a coaching program to create a more holistic approach to surf coaching that would be even more effective in the water, but also spill over into benefits to someone’s personal life as well.

Q: You’ve made a few big career changes in the past year. Looking forward, what are you most excited about?

A: I see it all as just continued growth and improvement. I was a pro surfer for a decade and used that knowledge of travel, adventure, and surf skills to create a business geared towards helping women travel to surf. Then in a decade of running surf and yoga retreats, I realized how powerful the empowerment component really is. It felt so good to be able to facilitate travel and adventure and then realize that Amigas were leaving the trip inspired and empowered and even going home to make positive life changes as a result. Adding a more dedicated mental health component to the surf coaching just takes that one step further. So instead of a complete career change, I see it this new step a career enhancement. I’m still super stoked to take people surfing and help them achieve their surf goals, but if I can help raise someone’s awareness of what’s going on in their heads and how that relates to their bodies, then it becomes even more rewarding because I feel like I can have a positive affect on their relationship with themselves and other people around them. Making the world a better place! lol.

Q: What has been the most pleasant surprise in your new journey to becoming a licensed surf therapist?

A: I feel like i’ve learned so much about myself that has made me a better human in the awareness of my own patterns of communication and relating to others. I have a lot more compassion for myself and those around me for sure.

Q: What’s next?

A: There’s a four-week Holistic Surf Coaching program starting Jan 9, 2022, that will be a small group experience on Sundays at Trails in San Clemente, California. I’m also helping out with weekly (Thursday) meetups in Bolsa Chica!

You can find all the info here: surfwithhollybeck.com/coaching


Protecting Sea Turtles in Southern Costa Rica


Each time you join a SWA retreat, you help to support important projects that impact the local communities aT our retreat locations.

For several years we’ve been supporting an amazing sea turtle conservation project in Punta Banco, a small beach community in Southern Costa Rica near one of our retreat locations. The project not only helps protect turtles from environmental threats and human consumption but also provides work opportunities for locals in the community. During retreats we’ve been lucky enough to watch the organization grow and help release hundreds of baby sea turtles alongside local volunteers.

In the last 7 years the project has been completely in the hands of the local environmental commission, which is part of the Punta Banco neighborhood association. While the focus with other organizations in the past used to be “just” conservation, the project now also tries to leave a positive socio-economic impact on the village community.

The project is almost fully funded by private donations which help the organization build hatcheries and pay local volunteers. Click here to learn more about the Punta Banco Sea Turtle Conservation Project and how you can support by adopting a sea turtle nest or donating to the project.


Surfing with Shelly in Morocco

With a gorgeous cliffside backdrop, super stylish surfer, and phenomenal videographer, this windy afternoon in Morocco was a recipe for greatness. Well, now that I think of it, the entire retreat season was destined to be great!

The retreat setup looked like this: We surfed long, peeling rights every single day, then relaxed at the luxury villa in between sessions. We explored old cities and shopped for Moroccan treasures, then slid down sand dunes at sunset. We laughed, cried, danced, and ate a TON of amazing food. For each and every one of us, it was the surf adventure of a lifetime.

Enjoy this video of SWA surf coach Shelly Massie taking an afternoon slide at our retreat location in southern Morocco

To learn more about our 2022 Retreats in Morocco, click here.

*videos captured by @itchyfeetmood & @amine_nader_photography

South Nicaragua Retreat Option July 19-26 2014


Now accepting deposits for our annual Southern Nicaragua retreat!
July 19-26 2014 join Surf With Amigas for a week of all day offshore-winds, super cute green waves, yoga with an incredible view, and other adventures! You’ll stay in apartments with floor to ceiling windows over-looking the break, enjoy three deliciously healthy meals a day plus snacks, and have every session captured on video and analyzed to help you improve faster!

click play below to see the video from last year’s retreat!
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If you know how to ride whitewash but want to learn how to ride a green wave, or know how to drop in but want to learn how to angle, or can do all that but want to cutback – this is the perfect retreat for you! There are 2 surf spots directly in front of where we’ll stay – a fun right good for intermediate surfers, and a super user-friendly left great for beginners. The world-famous Popoyo break is just a 10 min walk down the beach for anyone who wants to check that out too! In the South, the wind is offshore all day 90% of the time, so we’ll surf at least twice a day until your arms are complete noodles!

Check out what a past group of retreat ladies had to say about the spot, and why you shouldn’t second guess your decision to come! As Kristin said, “Just do it! Because I’m glad I came and had another adventure in my life!”

South Nicaragua Surf Yoga Adventure Retreat

$1,800 includes (Early bird special of $1700 if you sign up 3 months in advance):
– 7 nights in a shared ocean-view apartment
– 3 deliciously healthy meals per day
– daily surf coaching by holly beck and friends with video analysis
– surfboard rental
– daily yoga in a gorgeous ocean view studio
– other adventures including zip-lining, horseback riding, hot springs
– airport shuttle
– a group of awesome new Amigas who may become your lifetime surfing friends!

For booking info: contact hollybeck27@gmail.com

For more photos of where we’ll stay, see below:
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Surf With Amigas in Cooler Magazine

Cooler Magazine is a high quality, glossy paged print and online magazine published in the UK. One of their contributors recently joined us for a retreat in Nicaragua and wrote the story of her experience. Click the link here for the full story and see below for an excerpt.


So many of us seem to be in search of that timeless travel fantasy. That of the intrepid explorer on the existential, perennial hunt for a pristine slice of paradise. Or that of perfectly crested, empty waves, tucked into a soft sand haven of coconuts and endless summer shred.

The Balis, Byron Bays and Biarritz’s of the world, with their populous swells and all too often intimidating line-ups of jocking bros and bras can all too often intimidate the tentative and budding surfer. Especially the XY chromosomed surfer. But for those with an adventurous soul, those who seek the unknown and the exhilaration of the journey in search of untouched breaks and exploration, taking that unknown, mysterious path, slightly off the beaten track, often leads to the most fulfilling and rewarding of shred odysseys. As Jack Kerouac, the beatnik king of travel prose so poetically penned, “Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”

Central America has been well chronicled in surfer’s travel guidebooks. Handfuls of Americans gradually began trickling down into Costa Rica and Mexico during the 1960s, hungry for empty breaks after hearing whispered tales of nature’s barreling promises. Fast forward a few decades, and the once elusive breaks that entranced the first intrepid voyagers are now happily packed out and a staple destination for any global surfer. Nicaragua, however, the largest of the Central American territories, was characterised by periods of political unrest and revolution, stability only coming to the equatorial tropic in recent years. Pockets of plucky surfers have slowly been exploring the verdant and diverse haven, and the mounting murmurs of balmy plentiful surf, welcoming and warm locals and unblemished pockets of paradise has been creeping into the adventurous surfers conscious. Thirsty for those promises of warm shred and discovery, it didn’t take much more than a couple of conversations with former ASP tour surfer Holly Beck, who is now based in Nicaragua and runs the Surf With Amigas surf camps throughout the year for those with a more gutsy disposition, and I was on my way. The scent of adventure and alluring warm waves dissolving any anxiety of my transatlantic solo voyage some 6,000 miles around the globe.

To read the rest of the story: Click Here