I Confess: I Maaay Have Been Spyin’ on Y’all

Summer is not technically over yet. Not for another 14 days to be exact.

And yet it feels like all of California has been placed in a boiling pot –stewing in its own humid, hot temperatures. The concept of “Fall” may need some readjusting, though I confess: I’m totally planning my haunted ghost tours and scheming to invest in Halloween village décor.

But summertime has brought many hot and sweaty benefits in the form of surf sessions up and down SoCal that have peeled my pupils away from my Halloween obsession and studies.

Now I really get to confess:

Recently, y’all may have noticed—I’ve been spying on you in the lineup. 😊 I wrote an article for the LA Times, “What surfers blurt out when they think no one’s listening” yesterday and I got to say—this was a fun experience.

An anthropological work, according to Beach Grit’s Chas Smith, to be exact. Thanks for the buzz, Chas. And I agree, the best lineup is indeed a quiet one.

Maybe there’s some sweet solace left at some mysto-reef up or down the coast (see: Big Sur, Baja), but for now, ear candy is aplenty within SoCal’s inundated lineups.

malibu pier california early morning summer 2022

Don’t panic, the apocalypse hasn’t happened. There was a surf contest at first point that day.

Gathering this info was an entertaining process, especially in Malibu. It truly is one of the most dangerous places to surf simply because of the crowd factor. I thought Lowers was bad but attempting to drop in at second or third point is like weaving through a tapestry on briny-haired heads, albeit if you’re one of those, how is it you’ve managed to avoid a good scalping?!

I digress.

I would hear nuggets of info, immediately catch a wave or paddle in (if it was a good enough quote), hop/skip/jump over barnacle-encrusted rocks and quickly type my juicy hot goss into my phone while dripping wet, which was a challenge. And paddle back out for more waves, er, goss. At some point, it truly felt like a marathon race, especially at HB or Trestles.

Sometimes those convos felt as if they were lines from a movie, they were too good. I almost thought these folks knew my MO for paddling surreptitiously close to their 3-foot space bubble and literally lean in, ears perked, though some seemed to broadcast their B.S. for all to hear. But most conversations were your standard surfy topics that I didn’t include—wave conditions, board types, ‘shoulda been here yesterdays’ and tide status.

The most entertaining ones came from, yes, Malibu and Lower Trestles. There’s something about the crowds at these coveted spots who aren’t afraid to let the fur (& linguistics) fly. The Malibu fight was pretty entertaining and expected, though shocking considering the recent story about “the angriest surfer”–did no one take a page from this incident? I continue to ask myself “why” to those who surf crowded waves like the ‘Bu, but then I go to Lowers, wait two hours for one wave (and some juicy one-liners) and answer my own question.

In the middle of the chaos, I think: how much of this surfing popular spots comes from the drive to surf the actual wave? And yet, how much is it related to the community of surfers who are there to share your personal B.S. with?

Thanks to those who sacrificed their juicy nuggets to the journalism gods.

Keep it comin’, folks.

Steve Mara and wife Basak at their retail shop in San Diego CA

Ho Stevie! We’re Interviewing ya, Brah

In 2014, the world had begun to discover the power of GoPro and social media, but the hypnotic duo wasn’t quite ready for what surfers kept doing with that small-but-mighty camera. Tossin’ tonsil wasn’t just reserved for those surf competition after parties—for GoPro, surfer’s also swapped saliva to get that down-the-line barrel clip so their girlfriend would do the same  (read: did his mouth taste like foam rubber?).

But a college kid from Wisconsin saw an opportunity and spent many late nights at the San Diego Public Library creating an injection mold prototype from a 3D printer to accommodate surfer’s oral fixation and the rest is Ho Stevie! history.

Steve Mara and wife Basak at their retail shop in San Diego CA

Stevie and the wifey, Basak holding down the shop in San Diego, California.

Fast forward eight years later and that kid Steve Mara, founder of Ho Stevie!, built the biggest surf brand available on Amazon. Its mission is to bring surfers the best quality, best price and best service for surf gear like fins, leashes, traction decks, softtops and even wetties. Running a business as busy as Ho Stevie! is no easy task, that’s why he has his other half, wifey Basak, a.k.a. ‘B’, tackling the mountain of responsibility alongside him. Two heads are definitely better than one!

What’s your favorite thing about running the business with your wife?

It’s the best! We get to bounce ideas off each other all the time, and get instant feedback about everything. It’s especially helpful when she’s editing our videos. We can come up with ideas and go film them instantly, instead of scheduling times to do that like most companies have to do.


Do you both surf? Who’s more competitive for waves?

steve mara basak mara selfie photo

Pretty sure they’re the cutest couple. <3

Haha she tries (to surf) sometimes! The water temp has been about as warm as it gets here, for the past week or two, so she has been paddling out for a few waves with me on our 8’2” soft top.

And of course, I’m out there every day … even if the conditions are bad, I try to at least hit my 3 wave quota every day.

What does surfing mean to you?

FUN. And health. It’s so nice to start every morning with an hour or two in the ocean. It’s a good workout, it’s being out in nature, socializing, being in the sun, cold water therapy… there are so many reasons why surfing is the best.

steve mara surfing a softtop surfboard in california

Stevie bustin’ out a turny turn on a Ho Stevie! softtop.

Goofy or regular?

Sex Wax or Sticky Bumps?
Anything! We actually have Ho Stevie! Wax, but it’s all the same to me, as long as you choose the right temperature.

Favorite surf IG account? Why?
Hmmm hard to pick just one, but a funny one I recently discovered is @thegreenroomtimes, guaranteed to get a good laugh from it.

Favorite pro?
Gotta be Mason Ho. He surfs the sketchiest spots and is always smiling.

North Shore or Big Wednesday?
North Shore for sure.

How would your wife describe what it’s like to run a business with you?
From B: We definitely have so much fun working together, and we are a good team. Steve is really easy to work with. He knows what he wants, how he wants it exactly.

What was catching your first wave like? How old were you, where were you?

Luckily, I stood up during my first day of surfing! In college, I flew from Wisconsin with my roommate to visit his sister (my first ever flight) and they took us to La Jolla Shores. I don’t know how I managed to stand up, but I did, lots of times, and I fell in love with it.

That’s when I decided I wanted to live here. I moved out here a year later, easily my best decision ever.

Steve Mara Nazare busted nose

Busted at 15-foot Nazare! Steve Mara taking some knocks. 

Worst wipeout?

I had a couple of bad ones back-to-back recently.

I got towed into a 15-foot wave at Nazaré, which was awesome, but then when the jetski driver wanted to play in the whitewash, my face smashed the ski sled and I broke my nose.

About a month after that, just when I had started surfing again, I fell on a wave and when I came up for air, my board was flying towards me and I couldn’t duck out of the way in time. It smashed into my mouth, and when I felt my lip with my fingers, I thought it cut my lip all the way off!

I ran home and looked in the mirror, and thankfully my upper lip was just split in half. Wifey drove me to the emergency room where they put 5 beautiful stitches in my lip, and a few months later you can hardly notice the scar!


Favorite spot?

My go-to spot is just out front of my place in Mission Beach. It’s definitely not the best wave, but it’s probably the least crowded spot in San Diego. I’ll take quantity over quality when it comes to waves.

Most recommended surf destination? Why?

I LOVE Central America. I need warm water if I’m going on a surf trip. Bali was cool too, but it’s suuuch long flight. My favorite place is probably Salina Cruz, but honestly, I’m happy anywhere with waves and 85-degree water.


What makes Ho Stevie’s products unique?

The price and convenience. Some of our gear is half the price of the big brands! You can buy everything online with free fast shipping, or stop by our San Diego shop, so it doesn’t get more convenient than that.

And we take care of our customers and answer every question … I hate it when companies ignore customer questions. You can see it on pretty much every company’s Instagram posts.

We care!

Most popular product? Why?

Probably our surfboard socks and canvas board bags. Always a good idea to protect your board, and if you’re driving to and from the beach, this prevents wax from melting onto your car’s interior.

What are your plans for Ho Stevie!?

I just bought a warehouse! We quickly outgrew our retail location in Pacific Beach, so we will be moving into our warehouse and focusing on our online presence. We will be bringing more high-quality, low-price gear to all the surfers out there. Our men’s wetsuits were a big hit this year, so next up is women’s wetsuits.

And I want to put out even more video content than we already do… we have a lot of great ideas for skits, we just need to put them into action.

Gotta keep the people entertained!

Absolutely, Steve & B.


Check out Ho Stevie! and give that Insta page a follow!

Their YouTube page is pretty killer, too.


All Photos Courtesy of: Ho Stevie!

10 Beach Supplies for a Surfer’s Summer Backpack

Summer’s here and the time is right—to spruce up those beach supplies in your summer pack. Here 10 of my solid standbys I never leave home without:

1. Avasol Surfer’s Barrier Stick—I never leave home without Avasol! This is a year-round must-have, but since the northern hemisphere is getting its full bronze on, any surfer knows that sunburns are a thing and with so many options out there, it’s a good idea to trust Avasol’s Surfer’s Barrier Stick. A big supporter of this product since 2012-13, I recommend this sunscreen because Avasol products are made of clean ingredients. Avasol makes it easy to pick the right sun protection that’s not only going to protect the dome, but also the environment in which the dome duck dives, swims, snorkels, wakeboards, hikes, and snowboards, mountain bikes and tans. This product is noted for containing environmentally safe ingredients. If it goes on clear, you probably shouldn’t use it. Don’t forget the ears, hands, lips and neck!


2. Dakine 25L Backpack—I don’t know what it is, but Dakine backpacks keep coming back to haunt my shoulder blades while trekking down to Trestles. I’ve tried many different types of backpacks, but Dakine’s design handles a salty bod squished up against an even saltier wetsuit and keeps me coming back for more. No matter if half the ocean leaks into your pack from your soaked 4 mil wettie, Dakine’s backpack will carry it all the way back to the parking lot for ya.

I’m going to need rehab to quit my addiction to this stuff.


3. Surf Soap Rehab Balm—I don’t care if you’re a guy or gal, this stuff is the shit. And it smells anything but the aforementioned adjective. Just think—would you rather your locks smell like those salmon-esque leftovers from wiping out in that bait ball-infested kelp patch? Or perhaps coconut, vanilla and lavender are better scents that rep your locks. Designed to be reef and ocean safe and free of fillers, silicones, parabens and all that other nasty junk, Surf Soap’s Rehab Balm is for your pre- and post-surf sesh and won’t wreck your playground or your mop. A little goes a long way! Slather it on before and after your surf to avoid finding Nemo in your locks.

4. Bikini #2—Done shredding or gliding? Wardrobe change! Lord knows I have enough bikinis ’til kingdom come, and I always love the opportunity to show them off. Or you might not want to walk all the way back to your car with a soggy bottom—unless you’re a fan of that one song (“In constant sorrowwww…”), for which you will be unless you have a cute ‘kini to change into and perhaps dry off and score some vitamin D before the trek. Might I recommend a custom-built kini? Check out Alanna Dawn Swimwear to design your own. You won’t be in constant sorrow.

purple and green bikini sites on the sand at the beach

Love at first surf–My custom Alanna Dawn Swimwear bikini

5. Clean Chonies—If you are a person on the go, skip the ‘kini bottoms and stick with breathable cotton for your post-surf trek back home.

6. Sand Cloud Towel—This one is a no-brainer, especially if you plan to stick around after your sesh or, more importantly, you don’t want to flash your beach community. Sand Cloud towels are the perfect answer to soaking up some rays and not towing half the beach back to your car—these towels easily repel sand, have killer designs, don’t take up too much space and the company donates 10% of all profits to marine conservation.

happy surfer girl standing with hands in the air on the beach in front of the ocean with her surfboard sitting in the sand

At Trestles, confidence is key and this kini definitely helps.

7. Surf Wax—Because you’re not asking that cute surfer to borrow some, are you? You’re a strong, wax-independent person. 😊

8. Snackies & Water–We all need to enjoy our snacks and re-hydrate after a sesh. Just remember to pack it in and pack it out! Or pack it in reusable bags and bottles.

9. Wax comb—because no one likes using sand to exfoliate that wax job…for your board that is…and your tummy…and your legs…and your naughty bits… 😲

10. Shades–We WoodRoze Angelinas sunglasses sit on a beach towel in Newport Beach, Californianeed to protect those peepers, especially if you stare at a screen most of the day. Might I recommend Woodroze’s wide variety of fabulous specs? While recovering from your epic shred sesh, your eyes can learn to #practicesafespecs.

Any other products I missed? Reach out!

Sirenas del surf surfer girls smiling on the beach

Sirenas del Surf, a Wave of Sisterhood in Ecuador

Sirenas del Surf is a surf community and blog for women who surf or want to learn how to surf based in Ecuador. This group aims to encourage women to get together and surf together. Below you can read more about how Iva, founder of Sirenas, came to the idea of founding her group and website.


Today I write from my soul. Sirenas means so much to me, not sure I will be able to put into words my feelings.

But let’s start from the beginning.

Sirenas del Surf means Surf mermaids in Spanish. It was an idea born during the pandemic, like many other good things. It was a rough year, but many of us found inspiration and decided to do something good with so much time isolated.

I asked myself: -What can I do if I cannot surf?

So, I started a blog for women who surf or want to learn: Sirenas del Surf, a wave of sisterhood.

I narrated my experiences about fears, wipeouts, surf etiquette, choosing the right board, and so on.

Later, when the pandemic was getting less severe, we were able to go to the closer beach with my friend Yami.

We met with Yami by divine coincidence. ✨ I was looking for someone with a car to drive to the beach (there were no buses allowed at that time, of course), and Yami was looking for someone to teach her to surf. Voilà!

We escaped every weekend of this pandemic and had the best times of our lives, in a remote fishing town in Ecuador. Free of masks, and with few locals.

We surfed. We laughed. We drank mate. We watched sunsets. We became sisters. ☀

And I found more inspiration to create content and motivate other surf girls, that we all soon would be on the water together.

Long story short, I quit my job, moved to the beach and started working on growing this community and giving surf lessons.

Now, I look back in time, and my heart explodes with joy. 🥰

surfer girls dancing on the beach

I created Sirenas with 2 purposes:

  1. Encourage other girls to not surf alone – organize meetings, make contacts with those who are in the same town or city but don’t know about each other. Sometimes I receive messages from women saying thanks for helping them find their crew even if they are in other countries! Inspiring these women to to communicate in the language of the ocean makes me happy–Creating genuine bonds with love, free of envy or competition.
  2. Give the amazing experience of surfing to those that never have had it.

When you focus on giving, life brings you back better:

I got my surf girls crew, and not only in my spot, anywhere I go someone contacts me to surf or just to have a coffee in the city. We are not alone. We just need to talk to each other. To seek each other.

surfer girls in the water in ecuador

From the women I taught to surf, I get new genuine friends. They teach me more about life, empowerment, empathy, fears, patience, compassion, and that even though we don’t know what the other person is going through, we can see how much surfing helps them. I learned that surfing is therapy, even more for those women that are having a tough time.

I don’t know about you, but I used to think there were not many women that surf, because I learned here in Ecuador where there are more men in the water, I was always alone, in fear, thinking if I should paddle to the lineup or stay in the white wash.

And now I discovered that we are so many! We just need more communities for women who surf to form networks.

It’s the greatest sisterhood.

Peace & love, sisters!
Sea you on the water! 

Iva, Sirenas del Surf.

*All Photos Courtesy of Sirenas del Surf

Product Review: Surf Soap

Ah surf, sand, salt and summer sun! Sounds like sunny lyrics to a saccharine summertime song, right? Or maybe a not-so-sweet au natural exfoliate and dehydrator. There’s a reason why people often label their attitudes (especially post-break-ups) as “salty.”

Want to avoid turning into a human prune with a salty ‘tude to boot this summer? Read on.

I’m going to need rehab to quit my addiction to this stuff.

Salty suds do have a way of being baked into our hair follicles and skin and though we hear those sayings about salt and sand being the way to personal freedom, I’ve got to admit as a surfer girl of going on 19 years, the salty grime left over from a surf does tend to have an itchy, dry and unpleasant aftereffect that leaves me feeling like a California Raisin on her way to looking like my dad’s leather couch.

No thanks!


Remedy: Surf Soap


Built out of a love and respect for the ocean and a desire to help surfers smell good, feel good and arrive at their 9-5 not looking like a dried prune after a dawn patrol sesh, Surf Soap was born. Kayla Pearson founded Surf Soap with the mission to give the world hair and skin products that do not contain crazy chemicals and silicones, are biodegradable, ocean and reef-safe and plastic-free. Right down to the biodegradable packaging labels, Kayla gets it. Read my Q&A with Kayla.

surf soap better butter black tin

Does it get any better? Better Butter FTW

My hair is as long as it’s ever been and booooy does it love to get tangled, especially when I’m surfing decent waves. After using the Rehab Balm both before and after I surf, my long locks actually DON’T look like a rat’s nest. In fact, thanks to the Rehab Balm, I can actually use the Surf Comb in my hair without it getting stuck mid-brush and my hairs do smell super pretty. Remember: A little goes a long way with this product! But I’d cover myself in it all the same.


Also, anyone else get that crusty dry-lip feeling after surfing for hours on end? Better Butter takes care of that. I got the Pineapple scent (b/c Kayla totally pays attention! <3), but it comes in Coconut & Mango, too. You can also order all three—see ‘Triple Crown.’ Does that include the World Surf League circus that comes with it? ;)

I also put Better Butter on my bikini line, fingers and tops of my hands after a surf. I might experiment with my eyebrows and lashes? Before you know it, I’ll be the Chiquita gal!

surf soap all in one purple disc of shampoo in a black tin

The ginger and tropic scented suds will make an Herbal Essences impersonator out of you.

Rehab Balm and Better Butter are now permanent products in my Trestles/Surf backpack.


During my post-surf showers, the All-In-One is a God-send. It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed my shampoo/body wash this much. I have to use an additional conditioner just because my hair seems to be a conditioner black hole.

But, I joke you not—the first two times I used this product in my shower, I literally indulged like, we’re talking Herbal Essences commercial circa 1998 status, just minus the crappy ingredients and plastic containers—and yea, maybe the 90’s hairstyles and décor, too. Add in the All in One and I’m making my neighbors gossip for sure. I’ve never taken longer showers—my water bill be damned!





Check Out:

What I love: Everrrythinggggg. The smell, the feel, the way it actually hydrates my hairs and skin! Each product smells like a Hawaiian tropical drink. Each of these products really works. And trust me—I am a hair and skin product critic. And the best part—I rest easy knowing that what I’m putting on my bod and in my hair isn’t going to mess up our oceans.

Why: Their products are all reef and ocean-safe. They use eco-friendly materials for their products, shipping—plastic-free, vegan, ocean-safe.

I wish: I could buy in bulk

Price: $27-56 per product or set

Disclaimer: And yes, in case you don’t pay attention to my socials, Kayla is a friend of mine–but! I agreed to give her products a fair-and-square review and here it is.

No exceptions but, I’m not surprised– much like Kayla, her products rock my flip flops!

Check out Surf Soap.


Peace, Love and Don’tDropInOnMeOrElse

If anyone has been able to escape the craziness of the last few weeks (see: U.S. capitol & racist jerks), you might have noticed that there was a bit of a cat fight at Pipeline on Oahu’s North Shore between two insanely talented surfer girls.

Local Pipe charger Moana Wong took off deep on a wave and was dropped in on by Brazilian professional surfer Tatiana Weston-Webb, who instead of riding the wave, straightened out towards the sand.

But this wasn’t just any cat fight—it was one that needed to happen.

Coming to you live from Moana Wong’s Instagram–this is what happens when you drop in on a local, brah. #socialmediasuicide


The incident brought to the surface an abundance of issues ranging from the obvious safety hazards of Pipe, local girl v. privileged pro, coaches blocking for their athletes and using social media as a platform to call each other out.

I’m sure we can dissect this six ways from Sunday, and I’m pretty sure you and your buddies already have or you let’s Stab’s report do it for you. But did anyone catch the fact that this sort of incident has happened a MILLION times over with guy surfers? Nah.

Yes, Moana had every right to call out Tatiana and Tatiana (and her coach) should’ve been way more careful since Moana had no other choice but to ditch her board and head straight to the reef. A fight on the beach later and up goes social media a la insults and canned PR-y responses—I guess it’s good for something, right?

Pipe is the most dangerous wave on the planet, and Moana had an unnecessary run-in with the reef, thanks to Tati’s “misjudgment” and “poor eye sight.” I call shenanigans. But Tatiana’s canned apology felt like her mom dragged her by the ear and forced her to Moana’s doorstep only having Tati make a half-assed apology when in fact Tati could take a page from Moana’s barrel riding prowess—anyone watch Tati in the Pipe Masters? Meh.


All gossip girl shit aside, I’d like to implore surfers everywhere to think about how this has been portrayed in the media thus far: someone thought it advantageous to take a video of the two girls fighting on the beach hoping to get something juicy for the presses.

When I watched that video, it pissed me off. Thanks for capitalizing on an incident we’ve seen happen with surfer guys a million other times. Now because there are women involved, there’s suddenly surfer paparazzi.

What were you hoping for? A bikini wrestling match? Grow up.

We, as surfers, are an ever-growing population. Innovation and technology are ushering in a new form of surf culture by bringing surfing to the inland masses through wave parks and marketing tactics. More and more folks are arriving at our coveted breaks not knowing the rules or the locals. People who otherwise might not have a clue about your break might be dropping in on you next weekend. Rick Kane has never been more present!

I get it—it’s more crowded than ever and we’re grumpy.

But unless you like surfing frigid mysto reefs complete with submarine-sized sharks, it’s time to sack up and:

  1. Learn the rules of the road or actually listen to the rules of the road
  2. Be kind, unless someone almost kills or injures you

Otherwise, we’re all in for more incidents like these.


To the women surfers: it is up to each of us to rise above the anger, the privilege, the B.S. and support one another in and out of the water. In this case, it was imperative for Moana to call Tatiana on her shit as Moana could’ve been seriously injured or killed. Don’t hesitate to do the same—some people are just not aware.

And—don’t fall for the B.S. the press puts out there.

Peace, love and #Don’tDropInOnMeOrElse.

#TBT-My First Few Years of Surfing

My first time in real Baja, circa summer 2006.

I have changed over the years. And this year is no exception, if not the biggest year for some growth and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Cleaning and reorganizing always feels good, but sometimes from the proverbial dust, you dig up certain memories that you completely forgot about and have lingered in your boxes and books, buried beneath a stack of magazine clippings, articles and other career-oriented memorabilia.

Recently, in my crazy cleaning (what else should I do right now besides surf, amIright?), I rediscovered a surf journal I kept where I documented the first few years of my surf journey. I stopped mid-clean and prepared myself for a funny and nostalgic afternoon.

I started surfing in January 2004 at good ole SanO with a surf class and a hilarious football coach, who always teased me about being from Austin (UT -hook ’em) since he was an OU fan, and from that class, I met a group of friends. Ah the days of yore! Where Myspace WAS the social media, cell phones with cameras baaaarely existed and GoPros flat out did not exist.

Throwback to ‘Jackie’s Session Notes’ on Wetsand.com, circa 2005.

With a 9’0 Stewart longboard barely tucked under my arm, I  froze my tush off while innocuously learning about surf etiquette, paddling out, popping up and riding a wave…and not burning anyone in the process. Of course there is an entry in there where I got yelled at for my first time and was reduced to tears! Now I crack up thinking of how upset I was, even though it was my fault. But–in my defense, he was also a jerk. These days, I’d fire back at the jerk or just flip a bird and paddle away. :) Ah, lessons learned on a daily in the agua…that’s what I love about surfing: it is forever a journey.

Let me wax more nostalgia: 2005 was also the same year where I started writing for Wetsand.com. All the same, it was one of my first places I was published and wrote for consistently. And some of those adventures definitely stemmed from this journal and, on wetsand.com, would’ve been found in “Jackie’s Session Notes,” riiiight below the beginnings of “Liz Clark’s Swell Voyage” in the “Women Who” section.

My first few years of surfing were momentous on a daily basis and often heartfelt, although plenty of cracking up along the way.

Below are some excerpts I thought y’all might crack up about, too.

Here’s to a #ThrowbackThursday!

An Ode to Surfer Magazine

Surfer Magazine covers, man surfing green water waves, black text, man getting barreled

From my archives, RIP 1960-2020.

I saw the news first (& ironically) on Instagram from friend’s posts…

“RIP Surfer Mag”

What? No.

No way.

My heart sank and I immediate pulled a few issues I had saved out of my archives.

One of my very first editorial experiences I ever had in my career was interning at Surfer Magazine 2006-2007 under the direction of Chris Mauro, Editor-in-Chief at the time. I worked directly with mostly the Associate Editor, Alex Wilson, who taught me the finer things of transcribing an interview—I don’t think I’ll ever forget transcribing a two-hour long interview with pros whose first language was definitely not English. I was absolutely clueless at the time, but just came to work each and every day perpetually star-struck and stoked to be helping and watching these guys produce monthly mags …the one I would salivate for arriving in my mailbox, or would take a few extra copies from the staff.

I got to know the front desk lady, who was always so kind when I’d arrive every morning…the lines of glossy surfboards standing tall in the office—mostly guns. I’d stare at each of them trying to memorize the dimensions, wondering what kind of waves these beastly boards were for…I got to know each of the editors and where they were from and why they started surfing…they were a quiet bunch mostly, but it was definitely a boys club.

Chris Mauro, page of Surfer Magazine, Chris Mauro byline

Always looked forward to Chris Mauro’s writing.

I always looked up to Chris Mauro’s writing—he was the first person at Surfer I spoke with and the one who brought me on as an intern. I was taking my first journalism course at Saddleback College and Professor Mike Reed wanted us to interview someone in the profession you wanted to be. I wanted to interview someone at Surfer Mag and always knew who I wanted to interview, but was too intimidated. I asked Prof. Reed and he said, “go for the jugular.” My first lesson in journalism. He also told me to tell Chris that I was from Reed’s class.

Chris’ response: “Reed rules! I took his feature writing class. Yea come on in!”

I made friends with the advertising team—naturally, they are some of the friendliest folk, and met a fellow intern who became one of my best friends. We’d go for a surf together and get together for taco Tuesdays, sushi Thursdays and various party-esque holidays…I think I have a photo somewhere of all our costumes.

I also attended Surfer Poll a bunch. :)  The Academy Awards for surfing at the Honda Center for a long time…standing within 5 feet of Andy Irons, Keala Kennelly, Greg Long…going to the bathroom and running into Carissa Moore…being able to name each and every surfer at the awards and watching their interactions while I sipped wine to placate my star-struck nerves…

Dave Parmenter, pages of Surfer Magazine, Everybody Surfs

I also admired Dave Parmenter’s writing.

The surf industry has experienced massive shifts almost on a monthly basis. It started with Transworld Surf in San Diego and then, who would’ve thought that Surfing Magazine would ever go under? Not once did I think that Surfer Mag, the O.G. surf magazine, would get the boot. It pains me to see—honestly, this was why I pursued journalism as my college degree. I wanted to write for a surf magazine, I wanted to write stories about women chargers, rippers, shredders…to bring to light that there’s more to a surfer girl than her bikini bod and “epic” bottom turns. Then I saw Surfer created Salted and it looked so tempting, I wanted to write for them so badly, but my story ideas and pitches never seemed to fly.

Within those years, it was when I realized it didn’t matter what you knew, it was, just as in most things, who you knew. I was shy and still am, but I’ve definitely gotten better about my shyness. I would constantly rack my brain for that elusive, can’t-refuse feature story for me to write for Surfer, but one of two things would happen: they didn’t like it or they liked it and had someone else write it.

Surfer Mag editors eventually stuck me in archives and I learned a lot about surf history by pouring over the old issues from its very FIRST one published by John Severson called “The Surfer” in 1960…an issue that was wrapped in plastic and only available in a certain editor’s office.

Surfer Magazine section, Curious Gabe, Surfer Magazine page with green layout

‘Curious Gabe’ also rocked!

It wasn’t until I interned for Surfline that I actually got to write some stuff (thank you, Darlene Conolly <3). When I started my long freelance career, my editors often type-casted me as the “surfer writer,” with which I had ZERO issue. Despite the fact that I never was published in Surfer or Salted, I got to write about the Nike Lowers Pro and the Hurley Lowers Pro and the U.S. Open of Surfing for several years in a row. I also got to photograph it and got to rub elbows with some of the surf industry’s most legendary photogs…Jeremiah Klein, Dan Merkel and Aaron Lieber…to name a few

This life is a journey, shit happens for a reason and though it really saddens me to see Surfer Mag go, I know that necessity is the mother of invention. Surfers need a publication to froth over…it can’t just all be TikTok, YouTube and Instagram…this is a time of reinvention and creativity. Something will come of this craziness. I can only hope that Surfer Mag pulls a musician thing and has a “comeback” tour or a revamp.

If they do, you can bet your balls I’ll be pitching to them.

page of Surfer Magazine, Masthead for Surfer Magazine, Interns

One of the first places my name is in print

I’m not sure why exactly print continues to suffer…since 2009, why publications, ones we trust and know, are being pushed aside for digital platforms and sketchy ads proclaiming the “true story?” Why does fake news thrive and those seasoned pros, like Surfer Magazine, get thwarted?

In essence, I’m sure there are things and conversations the general public wasn’t privy to, who knows? I do know that I am forever grateful for my many experiences working with Surfer Magazine. This experienced pushed me into the journalism and writing realm and that has served me well to this day. Thanks, Surfer and Chris Mauro.

Though back then it was a boys club, nowadays, I love watching how the magazine and the industry in general are evolving into just a “club” and that is what I had always hoped for.

R.I.P, Surfer Mag.

A 6-Hour Tour: Trestles, Crowds, Waves, Bruises

Ah Trestles—my go-to, my getaway to get away,

During this quarantine thing, I try not torturing myself by looking at my long list of surf trips…especially since the world does not want Americans near their shores right now…but this past Saturday, Trestles brought the surf trip to me and bunch of other heat relief-seeking folks. Indo be damned…well, for now.

My trusty Sub Scorcher

A perpetual heat wave has been hovering over SoCal, thanks to a once hurricane now-turned series of storms off the coast. In fact, as I type this, I’m probably sweating in a tank and shorts with my hair in a bun that’s falling out of my clip.

Coulda sworn I left the humidity in Georgia and Texas…Lawd, child!

Last weekend, air temps hovered in the high 80’s by the beach and water temps sat at a very comfortable 72-76 degrees all along the coast. Trestles and her warm water walls called!

There are times where the crowd gets to me, the wave frustrates me and the rocks irk me. But not this time. Warm water makes me invincible, right? :D

At 9:30 a.m., I paddled out, no wetsuit needed. Duck diving felt like heaven and even though the lineup was really crowded, I couldn’t help but smile to see a few happy faces out there prattling on about the water temp and the waves. Nearby, a guy and I joked about how crowded it was, but there was also a fair amount of space between each surfer…except me and this Aussie chick, who constantly burned and backpaddled me.

First burn—okay, maybe it was an accident.

Second burn—excuuuse me?!

On her third burn, I yelled at her, to which she stared at me as she paddled back out…and I had no trouble mean mugging her right back, my inner ‘Georgia Jackie’ blood boiling, but I resolved to just shaking my head. She disappointed me more than angered me. As women, we should be supporting one another in the water, not acting like assholes to each other. Sure, competition is healthy—but not flat out rudeness and greediness. I thought to myself, yelling at her more is only going to give her cause to yell back. Then I thought, maybe if I reason with her and tell her that I didn’t appreciate her practically dropping in on top of me even after she saw me paddling for the wave… Then I thought “Nah. If she can’t be a considerate surfer, there’s no way she’s a considerate human being and I’m in no mood to school someone who should already know the rules of the road.”

Her friend attempted a peace treaty with me and reassured me that she won’t be back since she lives in San Diego, to which I replied to him: “Good.” She stayed away and soon after I caught a few nice waves and did a nice frontside hit in her face, she and her all dude posse went in. Good riddance.

Fast forward and a few friendly faces show up, some I haven’t seen since before quarantine and my heart felt light. We sat at a peak, played with its walls, and drifted around Uppers and the 50 million surfers chomping at the bit for a bite of the peak.

One happy surfer girl

I took one wave towards the inside and as another wave was breaking, a grom dropped in and without looking in front of him, ate crap, unintentionally sending his board towards me. Never thought I’d do this, but I tried to put my board in front of me to block his oncoming board, but failed. Thankfully, the board wasn’t coming at me too fast. A scratch on the forehead and a few bruises later, I paddle back out and said grom apologizes, after a small schooling from my friend. ;)

Waves, more waves and then some more waves…new friends, old friends…soon enough, it was almost 6 hours before I called it quits. Attempts to reapply sunscreen 2 hours into my sesh failed and I justify the sun damage to being locked away for 2 months. Savoring every minute of this day, I thought as we all sat on the beach and laughed, sweated out butts right off, talked surf trips and life. Despite crowds and bruises, we made it a proper Trestles summer sesh…but for a minute, it felt like our own spot somewhere in Central America.

Now, to scratch that travel itch…

Can You Get COVID-19 from Surfing?

Hit the eject button on crowds for now.

I confess: Over the past several weeks, I’ve been surfing. What was a few times has now returned to my routine. It had been over two months since I got in the water and the first time back felt weird. It felt wrong and odd, I felt like some kind of social recluse committing a crime, but giggling on the way in all the same.

I went to River Jetties in Newport and as I dipped my toe in the luke-warm ocean, a sense of relief and paranoia struck me all at once.

If this feeling could be put into words, it might look something like this:


(not) a poo barrel–sponger gets a clean barrel at Wedge in Newport.

Can you get coronavirus from surfing? It lingered in my mind, distracted me from catching waves as I drifted towards the rivermouth. My friend’s sarcastic line floated into my mind: “Where the poo meets the sea is where I surf”—referring to River.

The Surfrider Foundation wrote a comprehensive report and references several studies, both published and unpublished, that cite contradicting information—one German study says you can’t pass it on through poop and another Chinese study says you can.

Is it viable once in the salt? It’s been said that it can be passed on through freshwater, like lakes and rivers. But studies don’t have conclusions about saltwater. Also, when waves break, it creates an aerosol affect, which translates into tiny water droplets flying through the air and into your smiling mug, according to some speculations.

Yummm taste that COVID-19 spray! Over the (small) falls at Wedge in Newport.

But that’s speculative.

From Surfrider:

At this point, the research community does not know if people can contract the COVID-19 virus from exposure to feces in recreational waters but the overall consensus is that it might be possible.

MRSA, e.coli and all those other fun germies can be caught through dirty water, so it sounds like we treat this as we would a sewage spill—don’t surf dirty water and stay away from people as best as you can.

But, tell that to 50 of your best buddies vying for the peak at Lowers on a Saturday morning.