One of the fastest growing surf schools in the world is Surf With Amigas, based in Nicaragua and founded by former competitive surfer Holly Beck Obermeyer. It’s an all-female surf camp with a mission for women to create connections, and support and empower each other. While still on tour, Beck Obermeyer got her MBA and conjured up her business idea by thinking about what made her most happy: surfing and hanging out with the other badass women. The result was the women-only surf camp Suave Dulce. Later, Beck Obermeyer teamed up with surf instructor Jackie George and Surf With Amigas was born. “Surf with Amigas definitely sounds better than Suave Dulce,” laughs George. “We would always call the guests ‘amigas,’ so it made sense. But I remember when we were first putting the name together, we thought, ‘Does this sound like a kids book—the Amigas?” she jokes.
There are no typical days at Surf With Amigas, but the daily activities include surfing, eating two breakfasts and taking yoga classes. The time that the amigas will surf depends on the tide, and all other activities are built around that. George announces the next day’s schedule each night at dinner (which consists of watching surf videos of the day’s sessions, dips in the pool, cards and cocktails).
On our visit, we begin a day with yoga—instructor Nikki Belcher takes us through a restorative, Yin-style practice, paying special attention to muscles used most in surfing. After class, it’s time for a second breakfast of chai pudding, scrambled eggs and French toast, followed by a brisk walk down the beach to the surf break. The waves are small but consistent and the break is long enough for instructors to hang out on separate parts. Everybody grabs a board (which are provided) and paddles out to a line-up of her choice. Instructors paddle up and down the line-ups giving tips on rides and suggesting different exercises to try. George, unmistakeable in her shade hat, dangles from her board, calling out waves to her group like a high-school football coach. “Paddle, paddle, paddle!” she yells as one of her students catches a wave.
At the end of the session, the groups make their way to shore, gathering around some freshly made French fries and a bucket of beer. Attendee Amanda Erickson (from Talkeetna, Alaska) says the vibe of an all-woman surf club is comfortable, “It’s really nice. Everyone is cheering in the water and we are taking turns. We can talk about inappropriate things, but there is no posturing.”
One of the instructors, Ruby Meade, says Amigas is especially good for absolute beginners, “We are always so overrun by men in the water and to have women out there and surfing well is just awesome.” Meade—like many of the other instructors at Surf With Amigas—has made a life for herself in Northern Nicaragua, and learned about Waves of Hope, a non-profit community development program in the area where the camp is held. Waves of Hope was founded by the owners of El Coco Loco retreat center (one of the locations for Surf With Amigas) and helps support the local community in various progressive projects revolving around their core values—employment, education, healthcare and infrastructure. One of the projects Waves of Hope is involved with is a young women’s kickball league at the local school that they helped build. After lunch we are lucky enough to play a game of kickball in town with the league.
Between the surfing, horseback riding, meals, beers on the beach, yoga classes and the overall adventure of Surfing With Amigas, there’s an incredible sense of camaraderie and support. George says this is due to surfing—and the surf lifestyle—being so all-encompassing, “Surfing to me is everything: it’s meditation, it’s exercise, it’s worship, it’s a way to play in nature, it’s spending time with loved ones, it’s challenging, it’s fun, it’s mindless, it’s mindful, it’s a way to connect with people from all over the world, it’s empowering, and it’s a total reset.”
With locations in Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica, Surf With Amigas is an ever-evolving and growing organization. Their 2017 schedule is online now.
Images by Kate Erwin