I love surfing
It seems kind of silly that an almost 50-year-old beauty professional and entrepreneur from Atlanta, Georgia would want to surf. When I tell people I do, the first response is almost always an inquisitive look on their faces.
How it started
In 2000, I went on a family vacation to Hawaii. And, of course, I wanted to take a surf lesson. I had been practicing yoga for a few years and was competing as a cyclist, so I felt like I had a good shot at being a good surfer. It took a few tries, but I still remember the feeling I had the first time I got up on that board and felt the wave push me. I felt like I was flying. It was exhilarating but not in the way skiing down a mountain or jumping out of a plane is. In order to catch a wave, you have to be present. You have to feel for the wave. You have to quiet your mind. I was addicted.
Since I lived in Atlanta, there wasn’t any way for me to practice regularly. But after 2001, my then husband (who was a marine reservist) was called up to active duty and sent to San Diego at Camp Pendleton. He lived near the beach in a place called Cardiff by the Sea. When I would visit him, I would rent a board and just try to catch as many waves as I could. I had a few lessons along the way and bought a board. I was completely hooked.
Eventually, the adventures in San Diego came to an end (as did my marriage), and surfing was put on the back burner as I became a single mother.
As life would have it, I remarried and my current husband was an avid skier who had interned with Powder and Surfer Magazine out of college. He lived in Dana Pt, California, where he learned how to surf. Surfing is one of those sports that if you don’t do together it could get irritating for the party who doesn’t surf because you’re left waving from the beach.
Lucky for me, he loves surfing as much as I do.
When I started dreaming up Authentic Beauty 10 years ago, I went through A LOT of mentoring. I worked on the vision, the mission and the plan of execution. In my mind, I had a great personal mission, as well as a professional one. Since I merged the two, I thought I should be good. My mentor very specifically said, “You need a personal why. I know you think your company is your personal mission, but there will come a time when that is not enough.” My personal mission was to be successful enough AND healthy enough to surf.
In 2012, my son graduated from high school, and I started researching the best place to surf in close proximity to Atlanta. Given that my daughter was graduating only two years later, I was going to be an empty nester soon. California water is cold and the waves unpredictable. Hawaii is far, and East Coast surfing is not a lot of fun unless you live there and just happen to catch a good day. The bummer about surfing is that there is no guarantee the waves will be compliant during your week vacation. It is possible the waves won’t be good for surfing for an entire vacation! So, you want to pick a place to go where the waves are consistent and give you the best opportunity to ride.
Costa Rica was a 4-hour flight, but Nicaragua was only 3. There also were a lot of rumblings about how Costa Rica was building resorts on the beaches (which is not surf friendly), but Nicaragua was even better than Costa Rica anyway. I started doing my research.
At this point, I had two years before my daughter graduated high school to plan where I was going to surf and fulfill my personal WHY .
As you can imagine, going to Nicaragua can seem a little daunting. The media portrays it as an unsafe place to visit. It is a third world country, and (given I am an American and haven’t traveled outside the country much) there is an element of questioning, “Is this a good idea?”
I began searching for American-owned surf camps in Nicaragua to be on the safe side. I explored a few different places but kept coming back to Soma Surf Resort.
I began emailing Casey, the owner, a thousand different questions. Every few months, I would email with more questions and just six months away from my daughter’s graduation, I finally booked it!
I hadn’t taken a vacation in eight years!!!!!!!!!
I discovered Spirit Airlines flies to Managua for under $400. It is Spirit, but if you are trying to save money it’s a really good deal.
And then there is that moment when you send your personal savings through PayPal to somewhere in Nicaragua. Well, I just had to surrender and believe it was all going to be okay.
It’s a good thing I surrendered because when I arrived in Nicaragua hoping someone would pick me up from the hotel to take me to the resort, I forgot there was a time change on my first visit and was a little concerned when the driver didn’t arrive at the agreed upon time. My mistake!!!!
Soma is located approximately 2.5 hours from Managua. The roads are partially paved half of the way. A good part of the thrill of the journey is getting to Soma. You get to see how another part of the world lives. You pass volcanoes, sugar cane fields, cows in the road, horses in the road, ox carts and so much more! You’ll see an entire other culture before you even get to Soma and quickly forget what it’s even like to live in American society.
Soma is situated at a crossroads near Popoyo and Astillero in Tola, Rivas. It sits away from the village but right in between a few different surf breaks, so depending on what the waves are doing you can easily choose which direction to go.
It is a private resort with three luxury bungalows and two rooms with three single beds. Every attention to detail has been covered. The food is farm to table, and there is a menu from which to choose all your meals. The drinks are handcrafted and served at the infinity pool.
Casey and Bill, the owners, care meticulously for Soma and for every guest who stays with them.
I now have the privilege to call these two friends– if not family. What they have created in the middle of a third world country is nothing short of amazing.
When you visit Soma, you’re greeted by a warm and caring staff who makes it their priority to make sure you are taken care of during your time there. BUT, you have to remember you’re in a third world country, so if you’re expecting the same amenities from home you will be disappointed. Bring these comforts with you.
Bill runs the surf program. He has some of the BEST surf instructors in Nicaragua assisting him to ensure every guest has a positive surfing experience. They have lots of different boards to try out and learn the sport. Bill and his staff make sure you are taken care of and safe. Remember, we are dealing with Mother Nature, and it’s best to rely on Bill’s lifetime of experience in the water. He knows what’s best.
I have visited Soma seven times now. The thing my husband and I always remark on are the people you meet “at the end of the road.” The people who venture to the middle of Nicaragua are people who are not afraid. We have met some of the coolest people. Soma is not just for avid surfers but for those who have NEVER surfed before. We have been there with families, couples and singles from all over the world. By the end of your visit, you have friends for life.
As I started to go on a regular basis a lot of my friends and clients started saying how much they wanted to go. I decided to see if I could pull together a group to take down. Surfing was on SO many people’s bucket lists. If you haven’t really been around people who surf or spent some time investigating it, the whole process can seem overwhelming.
I decided to open up a week and put it out there to see who wanted to go. THE RESPONSE WAS OVERWHELMING. In 60 days from announcing the dates, I had 11 people put their deposit down and the Can’t Surf No Worries retreat was born! On March 15, 2017, I had the privilege of taking 11 women to fulfill their fantasy of surfing. If you want to read more about the retreat and hear some amazing stories click here. Authentic Beauty’s own marketing director Meredith Pruden, who was the only one who had surfed before, was one of our tribe.
Because of such an incredible, transformational week with some of the BEST women I know, I decided to take on making this a regular thing. So, on November 5-11, we’ll be heading out for our second Can’t Surf? No Worries! women’s surf retreat to Soma, and we hope you can join us! Be sure to get the low down on the Can’t Surf? No Worries! page on the Soma web site (it will be updated with November dates soon), and email Aly to secure your spot (a 50% deposit is due at the time of booking).
Just think about it… you could be surfing HERE!