From Nicaragua and Costa Rica to France, Bali and Maui, the world’s female surfing communities have never been larger or more thriving. Many of these communities have been around for decades now, and some—such as those in prime surfing destinations like Hawaii—have been going for centuries!
Despite the growth of these female surfing communities, many women surfers still feel like a minority group while they’re scouting for the best places in the world to test out the water. Female surfers may have been outnumbered in the past. But now, there are plenty of initiatives and communities that are helping to attract more women to surfing and providing them with the platforms and voices they need to gain the recognition they deserve.
Here are some of the world’s most renowned female surf communities that are changing the face of surfing for good.
Fantastic Female Surfing Organizations
The following organizations are working hard to foster transformative connections and welcoming environments for women surfers around the globe:
1. A Liquid Future
A Liquid Future, founded by pro surfer Lizzie Murray, aims to empower remote coastal communities in Indonesia. The organization promotes tourism development opportunities and approachable education programs in Creative Media, Water Sports, Ocean Conservation, English, Social Media, Technology, and Business Ownership.
The organization is currently based in Morotai, Indonesia. It offers many woman-organized events that uplift communities and teach them to participate in water sports like surfing in a safe, sustainable way.
2. Beyond the Surface International
Beyond the Surface International is a grassroots-level non-profit organization that works with marginalized fishing communities. It aims to promote the well-being of people and environments alike.
BTSI works closely with local youths and their families, hosting mindfulness workshops and other training courses that address environmental and social challenges which could put young surfers’ and community members’ futures at risk. BTSI works with remote and underprivileged groups to keep our waters clean not only for women surfers but for everyone who relies on them for their health, income and emotional wellbeing.
The Aotearoa Women’s Surfing Association (AWSA) in New Zealand is the nation’s official governing body for women’s surfing on both the South Island and North Island.
It’s run exclusively by female volunteers who are passionate about catching waves. The organization aims to represent the voices and interests of all female surfers in New Zealand, of which there are growing numbers!
4. Brown Girl Surf
It’s safe to say that women are still under-represented in surfing. But POC female surfers are even more marginalized. Brown Girl Surf aims to change that by building more diverse, environmentally conscious and inclusive women’s surfing communities.
They work to boost access to surfing, provide female surfers with supportive communities, and project the voices of women surfers of color. All while preserving oceanic ecosystems for generations to come.
5. Institute for Women Surfers
This global initiative is a grassroots educational program focusing on Public Humanities. It brings together business owners and entrepreneurs, activists, artists, female surfers and educators to build safe spaces for learning, teaching, and mutual support.
6. The Fresh Air Project
The Fresh Air Project uplifts female surfing communities by offering surf lessons to women and girls in remote communities. The project uses donations to provide them with gear and reduce the barriers they face when trying to break into the surfing world. Having this support encourages women to participate fully in the culture of surfing.
7. Black Girls Surf
As the surfing community becomes more focused on diversity and inclusion, so too do initiatives like Black Girls Surf shape the future of surfing. Especially for people of color who have long been marginalized in the world of water sports.
Established in 2014, this initiative offers surfing coaching and training to local communities with a specific focus on young female surfers between the ages of 5 and 17. Teaching young Black girls the basics of surfing ensures that they have all the knowledge and tools they need to stay safe in the water. It also equips them to look out for one another and advocate for themselves as the global community grows more diverse.
8. Solwota Sista
Solwota Sista represents a burgeoning Australian and Asian surfing culture and works to ensure that women of color and indigenous women are part of the picture. The group works alongside Arlene Bax, a renowned local photographer, to share this growing diversity with the world in a way that inspires other women and girls to join the community.
9. A Perfect Foundation
A Perfect Foundation is a non-profit organization that raises awareness about women and surfing and encourages the women and girls of the Mentawai Islands to join the local surfing community. The foundation teaches its members about tides, currents, rips and dangers in the ocean. It helps to foster both improved safety in the water and a love and respect for our diverse oceanic environments.
The Fastest-Growing Female Surfing Communities on Earth
Looking for warm, welcoming rapidly-growing female surfing communities? This is where you’ll find the fastest-growing ones:
Thailand boasts some of the most beautiful shorelines in the world. This makes it a nation with the potential to support a thriving community of female surfers. Groups like the Phuket Surfer Girls are aiming to create exactly this community while bringing more diversity and Thai representation to the sport. This group of women often paddles out at a variety of beaches in Phuket, attracting attention as they go. At the same time, they’re turning Thailand’s beaches into prime surfing destinations for locals and international visitors alike.
The Phuket Surfer Girls have become the lifeblood of many of these destinations, and help to draw new community members in through regular contests and beach parties. They encourage young girls from regional fishing villages to try out surfing too, nurturing a love for hitting the waves early to create strong future generations of female surfers.
Nosara, Costa Rica
Surfing has long been thought of as a man’s sport in Costa Rica, at least since the sport was introduced in the 1980s. Nowadays, it’s becoming more and more common to see local Ticas, or Costa Rican women, paddling out, especially thanks to Nosara-specific surf camps and women-only retreats.
Local surfer Adilia Zuñiga Díaz took things a step further and founded Nosara Surf Ticas. This surf club is where local women can learn how to navigate the waves in a safe and supportive environment that is completely free. Adilia provides education until the women start to feel safe in the water. She also hosts dance, yoga and language classes to enhance the local culture and teach local Ticas valuable life skills in the process.
San Diego, California
It’s no secret that California is a popular surfing spot, and there is no shortage of women taking to the beaches at any given time of the year. This thriving community is growing even bigger thanks to the work of groups like Surf Diva. Surf Diva offers group surfing lessons, competitive coaching, and women-specific surfing education for girls of all ages.
Surf Diva’s work in pioneering women’s surfing in the US has been so successful that the group has been able to open surf schools in Costa Rica and Los Angeles. They’re now catering to growing demand from an increasingly female community.
The UK has long been a popular surfing destination for those who can handle colder waters. But organizations like Women and Waves are bringing even more representation to small British towns like Newquay in Cornwall.
In fall and spring, the organization hosts surf club meetings during the quieter months on the beaches. This allows local women and girls to learn the ropes without getting overwhelmed by crowds of people or more advanced surfers. Women and Waves accept a growing number of surfers of all levels of experience and offer first-time lessons with qualified instructors and rented equipment. Coaching days, surf and yoga retreats, and weekend surf sessions for women who want to learn how to surf in a low-stress environment are on offer too.
Surf retreats are more popular than ever among women surfers, and there are few more beautiful places in the world to retreat to than Bali. In fact, Bali has gained a reputation for being one of the best places in which for women to learn ocean sports. It’s safe, welcoming, and generally regarded as one of the world’s most female-friendly destinations, as one of it’s most ecologically diverse regions.
Surf Camps like Ocean Soul Retreat and Swell Bali Surf Retreat cater to beginners, novices and experts alike. They also focus on environmental conservation, sustainability, and safety education for women in the water.
Supporting Our Surfing Sisters
There have never been more women in the global surfing community than there are today. But there’s still work needed to ensure that women are properly represented in surfing.
You can play your part in supporting the growth of fast-growing surfing destinations and local and global surfing initiatives. And, as an added plus, you can enjoy an exotic holiday while backing like-minded women surfers all over the world. You can also donate to non-profits, join surfing communities, or even offer to share your knowledge and expertise with those who are eager to learn.
The female surfing community needs nurturing, and who better to offer this than other female surfers?