Surfing and yoga go together like peas and carrots and although there is now a plethora of such combo`d camps around the world, here is one in Portugal where you can deal directly with the female owner/operator – Katrien Kegels and her qualified team of female surfer-yogarinis. In between waves, Katrien spared a moment to shed light on her epic lifestyle business….
First up, where are you from Katrien and how did you end up starting the ChicksOnWaves surfcamp? I am from Belgium, Antwerp. I lived the past 8 years in Switzerland in winter and spend most of my time off in summer travelling and surfing in Europe, Morocco, Costa Rica, Indonesia…During my travels in Morocco I was asked to organise a surf week for girls/women and that`s how I started ChicksOnWaves, originally in Morocco! It was a great opportunity to combine my passion and work: and I could surf every day. After 6 camps I decided to change the destination to Portugal.
Why the change of location? I fell in love with this region 8 years ago when I worked in a surf lodge and I knew that I wanted to come back! The south west of Portugal is a nature reserve (Costa San Vincente) where you find untouched beauty, hidden beaches and breaks, small typical villages with friendly locals. The sun shines 300 days a year and temperatures are moderate. Winters are not too cold and summers are not too warm! I surfed all winter long and I am not the type to surf when it`s freezing outside! The surf is pumping all year through, with different types of waves for every surfer.
So surf and yoga everyday – what else do we need to know about ChicksOnWaves? ChicksOnWaves is organised by girls for girls! We give a female touch to these weeks – you sleep in cosy, clean rooms in carefully chosen charming houses where you feel instantly at home. Surf lessons are given in small groups (max. 8) by certified Portugese surf girls who are great surfers. We go to beautiful beaches, provide good and healthy food and we give individual coaching and approach. And for those who already surf and just want to surf and explore, I can be a great guide to help you find the beach where the surf is good! There are so many beaches here that it takes a while to know where you can catch the best wave…
I haven`t been to Morocco yet but have heard contrasting opinions and experiences from the Tourist`s viewpoint. What was your experience of working in Morocco as a Western female surfer? I love Morocco. Especially the beautiful people I met there. They invite you in their homes and are so welcoming and open. Working as a Western female surfer wasn`t always easy. I had to deal sometimes with Moroccan men who lack respect for Western women. To be honest, that was quite frustrating and it is the main reason why I swapped Morocco for Portugal. As a tourist it is fine to travel in Morocco and surf. As long as you respect their culture and don`t walk half naked in the streets or even on the beach.
And the waves? Morocco has beautiful waves, especially the righthanders are very well known (Killer point, Ancor point, Boilers…). It got really crowded the last (few) years in the region of Taghazout, close to Agadir. But if you travel down south, you surf alone in the desert…
What have been the challenges to starting and managing your own business? How have you worked to overcome these? I think working in Morocco was the greatest challenge. Finding ways of getting things done the way I wanted them! I studied economics and marketing and starting this business was actually quite simple. I love working for myself, even though this often means working long hours. But hey, I feel I am really privileged making my work out of my passion: surfing and taking care of people!
Who or what inspires you? People and nature with all its beauty. I love meeting new people from all over the world and listening to their stories and what drives them. The sea – the life in and around it gives me energy. I love being part of nature, and I guess that`s why surfing is such a great passion of mine!
Smile!!! It is so much easier 🙂
Favourite surf destination: Costa Rica`s south pacific coast….unspoiled still
Top 10 essential surf travel items:
The best surfer is the one having the most fun!
* Katrien Kegels is the owner of Chicks On Waves all-female surf and yoga camps operating in Portugal. Enquire here if you would like to check out these camps and have a bash at some Portugese goodness.