Do you know Andrea Diaz? She is Costa Rica’s first woman’ surfing national champion, a mother of three, former Roxy team rider, and just a bad ass woman overall. Luckily for us, Andrea is also the head coach for Witch’s Rock’s Female Surf Retreats which are scheduled for 1 week each month from November – April. Let’s dig into Andrea’s unique story…
-How long have you been playing in the ocean?
For 23 years now
-When did surfing become part of your life?
I used to be a competitive swimmer so my teenage years were locked inside a pool. At the time I had qualified for the Atlanta Olympics, but that was not my real heart’s desire. So finally one day I figured out how to escape the pool (and my parents) by volunteering as a ranger in Playa Grande National Park. I was around 17 years old and working with Leatherback turtles along one of the best surf breaks in northern Costa Rica. So finally, I got my hands on a surfboard , paddled out, and that was it… I remember going back home and telling my little brother that I finally figured out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. At this point I didn’t even envision I could have a career in the surfing Industry… I literally told my brother, “Look, I don’t care if I live on a little palapa ranch on the beach, all I want to do is play in the waves and live a simple life. So please, when we grow old, make sure you have my back and buy eyeglasses for me” as I figured I would not have a ton of money… The hard part of surfing actually came easy for me. I was able to catch and ride waves on my first session as I had the muscle and endurance to surf at a decent level on my first surf sessions.
-How many years were you pro for Roxy?
I was a Roxy team rider for 7 years. I like to say I was NOT born a surfer, but made into a surfer. I got picked by Roxy after scoring the cover shot of the biggest Latin American Magazine at the time, Surfos. I was actually the 1st girl ever to be featured on the cover, and three has only been 1 girl since.
-What is your title in Costa Rica for surfing on a professional level? Did you win any championships?
I really didn’t focus on competitive surfing in my prime, I was more on the life style side. So I worked more traveling with photographers for magazines and ads for the brands I represented. I have been undefeated master champ for 2 years in CR and have been 5th in the world in the master’s division in the world surfing games ran by the ISA.
-What is your goal for the women’s retreat?
My goal is to empower women through surfing, My regular guest is not looking to become a pro. Most of the women tell me, “I’ve always wanted to learn to surf and finally have the money and time to do it.” They want to have this experience and overcome their fears and confidence issues in the water. So my goal is to give these ladies all the knowledge, and build their confidence in the water so that they can become proficient surfers.
-Is there a positive to women learning surrounded by other women vs. a co-ed crew or male coach?
ABSOLUTELY! Here are a few:
Surfing is a contact sport. It’s common to get pounded and pummeled by the waves and probably end up losing your top or bottoms.
I love playing more of a mentor role than just a surf instructor. I demonstrate that it’s O.K. to take your time training on land as women have different strengths than men.
Last but not least, women are by nature better communicators and listeners than men. I take more time on the beach explaining fundamentals than most male instructors.
-What is the number one thing you hope that the ladies that attend your retreats leave with?
EMPOWERMENT self believe that they can do it!!!
-What makes your retreat different than others? What sets you apart?
I’m the mom of 3. I know first hand what it feels like to be intimidated by waves. I know what it’s like to lose your upper body strength every time in the water. Plus, being a full-time mom and having to work extra hard to maintain strength. I know what it’s like to be in the water wanting to give up, to quit surfing because at some point it just gets too hard. I know how it feels to be the only girl out there and having to win the respect of the boys in order to catch waves . I have taken the time to study the holistic development/process to become a surfer and have the passion to really communicate the science and function-ability of the technical –psychological and physical aspects of surfing. I am a surf nerd, I am a woman surf nerd.
-Why is a week long retreat more efficient to learning than a couple of lessons?
In order for the retreat to be successful, all lessons and training needs to be planned in a progressive learning curve. In just a couple of surf lessons you can’t absorb everything that it takes to be a proficient surfer.
-What is your process to get the ladies confident to surf? (ie. theory of waves, the pool etc.)
I have set up a comprehensive hands-on program. The ladies are not only pushed out of their comfort zone but have amazing drills to take back home so that they can continually prepare surfing more consistently.
In a one week retreat I do :
- Swimming pool high intensity drills
- Video analysis and surf seminars what I like to cal “waveology”
- Personalized on water surf instruction
- Free surf sessions.
-You prefer the title surf coach vs. Instructor, can you explain the difference?
I am NOT a surf instructor I am a surf coach. I plan my lessons to be approached as a holistic training for lifelong surfing. A long time ago as a competitive surfer, I learned you don’t surf to train, you train to surf. I have brought all this knowledge in to my surf program. I have striven to get certified not only as a surf coach, but also as a personal trainer and have done serious immersions in functional training, yoga, etc. But most importantly, I focus on the psychological aspect of training for surfing and performing in the water.
-Why should people visit Costa Rica to learn to surf
From all the endless responses I could give, I’ll say 2:
- Ticos are the happiest people in the world, we have embraced our pura vida lifestyle and it radiates to those who visit our country and to those who surf our waves.
- Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking countries in the world, from breathtaking sunsets, to warm waters, to nearby waterfalls and monkeys hanging over your head for breakfast…it just doesn’t get better than this. This is what surfing is for me: happiness and enjoying God’s creation
-Are there lessons learned in the ocean while surfing that can be translated into day-to-day life?
YES… surfing is just like life. Life is never flat. There’s always ups and downs like the waves. The key of surfing is learning to go with the flow and being one with the wave in times of chaos and tranquility.
-Why would you recommend surfing to people? (especially women)
Like my 13 year old said one time, “Mom, surfing makes me feel powerful!”
-Why is the beach such a wonderful place to raise kids?
Because I can be a mom…. That simple… I visualize myself in a different scenario in an 9-5 work schedule and I can see myself missing out on my kids’ lives. Here at the beach, there are not many things to do but play in the waves. Sharing this love with my kids has made our bond stronger. Spending valuable time in the waves has brought us closer together and value what’s important in life: family. I’ve never been close to my family so I really want to pass that message on to my kids: family first!
3 main focuses/tips for women learning to surf
- Don’t give up, you never know if the next time you will succeed
- Have fun and enjoy the process. At the end of the day, that is what counts
- CHARGE IT! Go for it, don’t hesitate, believe in yourself. This mentality is where the magic happens
If you’d like to meet this amazing woman and allow her to teach you the love of surfing, contact us today for our Women’s Surf Retreats. Spots are filling up fast so this deal is first come, first SURF. A giant thank you to Andrea Diaz for answering our questions and offering this life changing retreats to our guests. Pura Vida!