We’re back again to catch up with more alumni amigas that you may know!
this month we’re chatting Q+A style with mother, surfer, and world traveler danielle gustafson to learn more about the why behind her surf journey + a bit about her personal retreat experiences. 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’ve been obsessed with surfing for 20 years, but I never committed. I was a white wash wahine. As my kids got older and started shredding, I recognized that I had to learn to surf or lose them to their passion. My main motivation to finally commit was to keep a connection with them. It only made sense to send myself to SWA. That was four and a half years ago. I had no idea it would change the course of my life in the best possible ways.
Q: Now that you’ve been on several SWA retreats, what keeps you coming back?
A: I can’t get enough. Every retreat has been epic. I gift myself at least one a year. Hey, I invest in my kids’ summer camp, tutoring and sports development. Why wouldn’t I offer myself the same level of self-care?
In this story you’ll take a trip to a village in Morocco alongside SWA coach Emma and join her as she falls in love with Moroccan strays and connects with a local animal shelter in an effort to help.
Here’s Emma’s story:
I landed in Morocco mid-September, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready for the start of another season with Surf With Amigas. I was greeted by couscous, a cornucopia of color and an astonishing amount of furry, four-legged friends. Reesie, Chloe and I spent 3 days in Marrakech where we learned cats were king, residents of every street corner and territorial savages when tajine scraps were on the line.
From Marrakech we moved south to Imsouane, a village north of Agadir where we hold the SWA retreats. Waters once dominated by fishermen have transformed into Moroccan Malibu, with European tourists and soft tops flying about in the fog.
Marrakech is to cats as Imsouane is to dogs (and some cats). That first morning in the few days before the start of the retreat we stayed at a cute hotel further down the cliff from the SWA retreat villa. Feeling underdressed and too awkward to make conversation with the European hipsters that make boho look elegant, I went to play with one of the stray pups rolling around in the dirt out front.
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.
At Surf With Amigas, we are always looking for constructive ways to engage with the communities where we host retreats. Whether it’s funding sea turtle conservation, donating school books to indigenous children, giving scholarships for higher education, or encouraging women to participate in sports by sponsoring a local ladies kickball team, we feel good about giving back wherever we are.
In this case, we have become friends with an amazingly inspiring woman named Hadas, who owns a vegetarian cafe and surf view cabanas as her day job, and offers art classes to kids and adults to feed her passion for art. She runs an open art studio called De Colores in Pavones, Costa Rica.
The art studio is dedicated to promoting well being and deep healing through the creative process of art making. That’s a goal we can get behind!
We are so happy to donate funds to support free art classes for local children to explore and express themselves through color, textures, and the allowance to get messy! Here are a few photos from a recent class.
By supporting us, you are supporting her, and thereby supporting them. Thank you!
For those ladies who already know how to paddle into and ride down the line, we offer several advanced coaching sessions per year.
On these retreats the focus is breaking down higher level skills via classroom sessions and awesome surf sessions with our super talented coaches. This particular week featured guest instructor – 2x world longboard champ Jen Smith and super stylish longboard cruiser Macy Sivage.
At our Costa Rican location, we offer surf coaching retreats for advanced beginners and intermediate surfers. We define advanced beginners as those that have already stood up in the white wash, can paddle themselves outside, and are ready to start riding green waves. Although we have been flexible with this description, these are the types of surfers that tend to have the best time and are able to take advantage of the amazing waves our Costa Rican location has to offer!
This week had absolutely firing surf. Each day had it’s own flavor – from super long point breaks, to adventurous boat trips, to bigger waves, we sampled a bit of everything. Normally we have a mix of ability levels, but on this retreat, almost everyone was pretty close to the same level. They were all catching tons of waves and working on turning.
One day the swell was a bit smaller, but still offering really clean long waves. Holly had just gotten a new longboard so she convinced everyone to paddle out on longer boards. Since it was super sunny, everyone threw on surf leggings and big floppy hats for full sun protection. Holly paddled out with the GoPro to capture all the awesome rides from a surfer’s perspective.
Surf Yoga Retreats led by women are the most fun! Come see why!
How to Catch more waves with the Coco Chanel Paddle
Everyone knows the Coco Chanel logo right? The two interlocking Cs are not just a sign of luxury, but also a great way to paddle. If you want to have the most efficient paddle technique you need to increase the length of your stroke. Paddling in the shape of a C achieves that. If you use the Coco Chanel Paddle you’ll be covering more distance faster. That means more waves and fewer turtle rolls! This video will take you through some things to do and others to avoid to improve your paddle skills and have you catching more waves!
Why it’s best to learn to surf from women
At Surf With Amigas, we take a humorous approach to teaching surf skills. You’ll learn to turn with your boobs and to avoid paddling like a T-Rex. You’ll also hear that you should paddle like the Coco Chanel logo. Come learn and laugh with us! That’s the difference of a surf camp run by women!
The spot we surf in Northern Nicaragua for our women’s surf yoga retreats is ideal for improving your longboarding skills. This particular week in mid December 2017 had awesome super long lefts and rights that were great for all surfing levels. Some ladies were working on just standing up for the first time, while others were working on cross-stepping and trying to nose ride. No matter your current ability, we will individualize our coaching to make sure you get the help you need to achieve your goals.
Of course it’s not all about surfing. We also offered daily restorative yoga sessions, played kickball with local ladies, hiked and then boarded down a volcano, and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery of Nicaragua.
Check out the video highlights from the week!
Come and join us on our next retreat!
All our available dates are listed on the schedule page. We will be adding more for winter next year very soon.
Beginning October 2018 Surf With Amigas will be taking over a gorgeous ocean-front hotel in Northern Nicaragua as our new home base.
Stay with us for a surf yoga retreat in Nicaragua at our new retreat base and watch the waves at “the Bay” all day! The Bay is a sand bottom break that features great waves for experienced surfers and also super fun user-friendly waves for beginners. This is the very best spot to learn to stand up for the first time. It is also a great spot to work on nose riding, cutbacks, generating your own speed, and doing turns. This is the spot to surf twice a day.
Of course we’ll also do some driving and boating missions to surf other spots depending on conditions and desires of the group. There are lots of other surf options nearby. We are very excited about the ability to be in tune with the ocean, easily surf multiple times per day, and be on it whenever it’s good!
A Boutique Resort in Northern Nicaragua
The resort features four stylish ocean-view, thatch-roof cabanas. Each cabana has its own ensuite open-air bathroom, relaxing hammocks and lounge spaces. There’s a refreshing swimming pool for midday cooling dips. There’s a brand new ocean-view yoga studio, and stylish bar and restaurant space to enjoy healthy delicious meals.
We are excited to have the opportunity to curate the entire Surf Yoga Retreat experience from the vibe at the resort to the meals.
In the past we have partnered with resorts on a week by week basis using their restaurant and staff. This new situation will be all Surf With Amigas from the delicious healthy menu to the music playlist.
Fewer cabanas mean smaller groups and more retreat dates per year beginning mid October 2018. We’ll be updating the schedule and uploading more photos and videos soon!