Women in surfing have come a long way and in recognising a fellow salt gypsy in Kerianne Kreger, I was curious to hear her story. I recently met Kerianne while checking out Magini`s Bikini`s down on the Bukit in Bali. Her strong physique and mixed accent pays homage to the surf travel lifestyle this Californian transplant has been living for the past few years….
Kerianne, you are paid to surf and travel – how did you find yourself living your dream as a surf coach/guide/yogarini?? Surfing was something that I always wanted to try, but I didn`t have the time to commit to it. When I try something, I want to be able to do it right: give it my full attention. I was on a volleyball scholarship through college, so there wasn`t the time until after I graduated. My first surf lesson was the end of 2009 which also coincided with me quitting an office job. I didn`t really have dreams of becoming a surf instructor at that point but I had fallen in love with yoga. Yoga is what brought me to Costa Rica for a month that winter, jobless, single (with no intention of changing that) and excited to not only practice yoga with my friends and favourite teachers, but also get to surf.
I`ve always been one of those people who decides they want to do something and doesn`t waste a second getting it done. The last few days in Costa Rica was a chorus of’ “one day we`ll all move down here.” Except my ‘one day’ was three months later. The decision was made by the time I put myself on the plane to fly back to California. Within a week I`d found a place to live and secured it. The plan (because there always is one) was I`d teach yoga when and where I could and live off my savings for one year. One year to practice yoga, improve my surfing, explore a new culture, be selfish with my time, meet new people and indulge myself. Volleyball was practically year round from the time I was 12 which made studying abroad or travelling impossible, so I felt it was time to do this.
Within the first week of moving to Nosara, Costa Rica, I`d found a studio where I could teach yoga, met a ton of new people from around the world and settled into jungle life. All very easy…except for the surfing part. My experience surfing was minimal at best and I found myself, quite literally, in over my head with the waves at Playa Guiones – Nosara`s consistent break. Having only taken one real lesson and designating myself to the white water, paddling out and into green waves seemed pretty terrifying. Luckily my wonderful new friends were surf coaches – and the best kind at that…the geeky kind. One of which changed my mind about staying single.
Within the next four months I`d cleaned up my act, learned more technique than I could handle and spent plenty of time in the water. This enabled me to wrap my head around it all and start making some progress. At the end of the season the uber surf science geek himself, Ru Hill
, asked me if I wanted to be a part of his surf coaching team at Surf Simply
. Within the next two months I`d received my BSA and RLSS Lifeguard Certificate and started work. I was then not only able to coach surfing but also teach a little yoga as well. My one year to explore soon turned into indefinitely.
Living such a nomadic lifestyle, what does home mean to you? This is something I`ve struggled with because I enjoy feeling settled. Right now home means wherever my boyfriend, Harry, myself and our little dog, Jordy, can be unpacked. Most of the time it`s Nosara, as we spend about 9 months out of the year there. The rest of the time just feels like an extended vacation. When we arrive somewhere and can unpack and settle in…that is home for the moment. There are times where I wish I could settle into one town for good but then you pack your bag for the next adventure and forget you had that very thought.
Like myself, you also work – literally, side by side with your partner. Any words of wisdom?? Working with Harry hasn`t been challenging at all. Normally you`d come home from work and try to recreate a funny situation or experience you had throughout your day in hopes that your partner finds it equally as amusing. We get to laugh and experience it all together. Having said that, while we coach we`re dealing with different groups of guests so we might be 10 yards from each other but aren`t actually interacting. Working, living and travelling together means we are with each other almost 100% of the time. We are both really good about finding our own time to do the things we want. We can sit in the same room together doing different things and feel miles apart. I won`t pretend to know the secrets of how to make relationships work. I just know that ours does and I`m very thankful for that.
Tell us about your life and work in Costa Rica….It`s really special. I surf once or twice a day outside of any surfing that might take place while working. Nosara is an early to bed, early to rise kind of place (which suits me minus the early to rise), nap in hammock, read a good book, do some yoga and spend time with your friends, kind of town. We have this little community that really takes care of each other which really helps when you`re thousands of miles away from home. My friends vary in age and origin which makes it even more interesting. With the holidays being our busiest time of year, you`d think we`d almost just skip them but we managed to have a huge roast Christmas dinner this past year. I remember glancing down the table and thinking that while I wasn`t home with my parents and brothers, I had more family than I could ask for.
Work is probably an inappropriate word to use. Ride bike to work through beautiful jungle in bathing suit, grab a truckload of cool people from around the world, spend a few hours a day on a beautiful beach surfing and coaching, once a week take said cool people to a delicious dinner, repeat. My co-workers are some of the best people I know so it all ends up feeling more like play than work.
And the waves?? Playa Guiones has a pretty large swell window so the consistency of the waves is pretty great. They vary from knee high to double overhead. Most of the time it`s shoulder high to just overhead. It`s a really friendly beach break but is still perfect for all levels. We teach total beginners and they`re comfortable paddling out halfway through the week, while at the same time advanced surfers are having just as much fun. The dilemma is usually whether you have the energy to go for another surf, not that the waves aren`t suitable.
Have you been able to travel and surf other parts of Central or South America? I haven`t been anywhere in South America but I think that`s the next to check off the list. My experience in Nicaragua was limited as I managed to snap my leash on the first wave. I have managed to work my way around Costa Rica. There are various places near Nosara that we`ll do day off missions to. The breaks on the south end of the Guanacaste Peninsula (Santa Teresa, Playa Carmen, Mal Pais) are fun as well. My all time favourite – big surprise – is Pavones. Harry and I have made the trek twice hitting a really nice swell with little to no crowd. I`d jump at the chance to go again.
If we came to visit you guys in Nosara, where would you take us for the best coffee and cocktails??
I can`t vouch for coffee…caffeine makes me weird. I can tell you that Lagarta Lodge
has an amazing mojito with a breathtaking sunset view. The Gilded Iguana
, a hotel/restaurant, tends to be the place we`ll frequent on a Tuesday night for some live music and a few drinks with friends. We have Wednesdays off so it`s a really nice way to settle into it. What you really want to do is to find this lovely person named Lulu
. Odds are good you`ll run into her in the water – she`s the lady who will be laughing, smiling, and talking to everyone out the back. Almost guaranteed she will have a delicious muffin/cookie/brownie in her bike basket that she will willingly give to you. She`s worth tracking down.
You also have a dedicated yoga practice and run retreats and workshops…
My personal yoga practice has changed a lot since I started surfing. It`s hard to fit in a surf or two plus an hour and a half of yoga when you`re work is physical as well. The style and poses that I tend to practice now are different, and they`re usually completely customised to help prevent injuries and enhance my surfing. I do run retreats which are great fun but I do not have any upcoming at the moment. Soon I`ll be releasing a little project that I`ve been working on called Surf Flex.
They are yoga videos
that are geared towards surfers who want the same as I do: stay flexible, prevent injury and enhance performance
. I`m pretty excited about them.
What`s one piece of advice that`s stuck with you?
It`s not about getting rid of your butterflies, it`s about making them fly in formation.
Realistically, at some point or another, you`re going to be nervous, scared, intimidated. You can`t expect to just make it all go away because it won`t. You can use your nerves in a positive way. The more nervous you are, the more important it is to concentrate on what you`re doing. Instead of thinking about all the things that could go wrong, you switch your thought process to what it is you are supposed to be doing. Use technical key phrases as a mantra to get yourself to where you want to be. Ironically, another piece of advice that I really enjoy is:
There are fears that keep you alive and fears that keep you from living. Wisdom is knowing the difference.
You have to draw the line between an irrational fear that is making you nervous and a rational fear that might actually cause you harm.
Top ten essential surf travel items:
This is one of the great things about surfing…there aren`t too many things that you actually need. Having said that…..
- Board(s) varying upon location and waves/fins/fin key/leash/wax – you can surf naked so a functioning board is top priority.
- Good surf suit or wetsuit. If you`re not into surfing naked, the right get-up becomes increasingly more important.
- Zinc and sunscreen. I`m really cautious about preventing sun damage – especially on my face.
- Wetsuit top. I`m almost guaranteed to get cold, even in 80 degrees with offshore wind.
- Video camera or camera. At Surf Simply we coach our clients using video analysis and we try to use it for our own surfing as much as possible. Plus, you want to document your trip.
- Lego people. Harry and I made lego versions of ourselves. Wherever we go, we take pictures of them like they`re us.
- Backgammon and a deck of cards. Instead of watching TV (if there is one where you`re at), I like playing games. Even more than I like winning. You can`t win watching TV.
- Hat. It must be child size. My head is shockingly tiny.
- Kindle. Books are wonderful things and one day I`d love to have a library full of them but they`re not practical. I can have a ton of books on my Kindle and read for days.
- Sundress. They`re light and you don`t have to wear a bra. They are incredibly comfortable and can make you feel the perfect amount of feminine after you`ve been tomboying all day.
Kerianne Kreger is a qualified yoga instructor and surf coach at Surf Simply. If you are interested in contacting Kerianne for yoga or surf adventures, try her at FB page Yoga Expeditions or check out her website. Photographs provided by Kerianne.
And for surf bikinis from Costa Rica, we recommend Dkoko.