Why I Grew Up in Florida, And Never Surfed A Day


There’s a stereotype about Floridians. We’re supposed to be bronzed beach bums, perma-vacationers with salt in our hair and a constant dusting of sand on our car mats. With some of the world’s top beaches, why wouldn’t we be on them all the time?

Yet here’s the thing… it’s hot down here. And some of us prefer not to burn our feet on our flip-flops if we forget to turn them upside down in the sun. Some of us take our recreational activities inland.

I am one such Floridian. I grew up opting for green pastures and sand arenas instead of waves and sun-kissed skin. Horses were my thing, and I spent every waking moment I wasn’t in school at the barn. Honestly, I probably only made it to the beach about once a year. Usually on Christmas Day. And then only so I could take photos and send them to all my frozen friends up north.

So I confess that when it came to one of the most popular Floridian outdoor pastimes, surfing, I never really gave it too much thought. Until, that is, my friend Lacy of the expâté booked an experiential luxury surf retreat to Nicaragua.

SwellWomen operates women’s surf and yoga vacations in Hawaii, Panama, El Salvador, and, of course, Nicaragua. I first heard of them, where else, on social media when Lacy began posting about her upcoming holiday. I followed her experience on Instagram, drooled over the photos of the waves and the food and the stunning scenery. And immediately decided that maybe I should rethink this whole surfing thing.

That decision was cemented when I met SwellWomen founder Lulu Agan in person. Coincidentally, she happens to live in Palm Beach, just a short ride up the interstate. Given our mutual adoration of Lacy, I had a feeling we’d also hit it off and jumped at an invite for brunch. My instincts were correct.

So now I have one more decision to make… El Salvador, or Panama? The El Salvador surf trip takes place at the end of February, while the Panama surf trip takes place in January. Both perfect times of year to heads towards Central America, both hosted in luxurious boutique properties.

I suppose I could flip a coin, leave it to chance. I’ve narrowed it down to these two locations for several reasons: time of year, ease of travel, and the fact that I’ve never been to either.

So now the big question remains – which should I choose? Which would you choose? And more importantly, anyone care to join me?

{Image by Dave Young}

Want to know more about the SwellWomen experience? Read Lacy’s article for Travel & Style Magazine on how a surf and yoga retreat can help you find your inner bliss.

  • Elena Sonnino

    I have never surfed but over the last few years have been wanting to take lessons when I travel. Sadly each time I schedule one, mother nature has had other plans and lessons have been cancelled. Both destinations sound fabulous but my gut says El Salvador–(either way I cannot wait to follow along!)

    • Oh no!! Such a bummer with the weather refuses to cooperate!! I feel like I should maybe give it a try before I head to Central America, just so I don’t embarrass myself once I get there lol. Either way, it’s sure to be a fantastic time. Really need to decide soon! 😉

      • You won’t embarrass yourself – many of our guests are absolute beginners and have never even touched a surfboard.

        • I’ll be in great company then!! But I already knew that ;). Plus I have absolutely no problem laughing at myself, which I credit to a father that lived for finding ways to embarrass us four kids as we were growing up lol.

  • Surf and yoga vacations in Hawaii?? That’s almost a staycation trip for me – I’m definitely looking into booking!

    • You definitely should!! I know they do co-ed surfing retreats too as well as women only – how fun would that be for you guys to do!!