The humble mermaid – Elaine Abonal

Ocean-loving beauty, Elaine Abonal is living proof that great things can happen if you set your mind to it.
The inspiring yet humble 29-year-old was born and bred in the Philippines and has been surfing for about 10 years. Elaine was first introduced to the sport when she was 18 and studying in the US.siargao - august 2013
“I pretty much just got obsessed with it and wanted to do it as often as I could,” she said.
“I love everything about the ocean. I love that I feel at home when I’m in it.
“I love that it teaches me things like courage, perseverance, appreciation of the simple things, beauty and how everything in life is connected.”
Elaine has been lucky enough to turn her love of it into one the best jobs around.
With the support from two pioneer surfers from the Philippines, Elaine launched her own surf company early last year.

IMG_3299From years of surfing and staying at the San Juan Surf Resort in La Union, Philippines, Elaine got to know the owner Brian Landrigan and professional surfer Luke Landrigan.
When Elaine told Brian and Luke about her dream to own and operate a surf tour company in the Philippines, they gave their full support and encouraged her to turn it into a reality.
“They’ve seen me spread the word about surfing and bring my friends and friends of friends on surf trips,” Elaine said.
“On one international trip with them, they told me that I could always do surfing for fun but that it’s also something I can do as my own business.
“ They know that I have the resources, support, and talent so I thought about it and realised that they were right.
“They helped me and I told my friends and family about it.
“I feel very lucky and blessed to of had their encouragement.”

?????????????Elaine now operates Surfista Travels Philippines – a surf tour company that helps surfers and travellers from around the world, men and women, arrange trips such as accommodation, transport, surf lessons and more.
Surfistas September 2012 LUFor most people heading to the country to surf, Manila is the starting point to get to surfing destinations like La Union and Baler.
Elaine said despite Manila being a big city with no beach close by,  a lot of Filipino’s have taken up surfing.
“Manila’s not next to a beach with waves so it’s definitely the concrete jungle,” she said.
“But ALOT of people from Manila, especially the younger crowd, are getting into surfing because many have the resources and money to travel to the surf areas.
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“We’re still a long way compared to other countries when it comes to surf culture, but it’s getting more popular every year.
“Many of my Surfista trips are mostly made up of girls, which is pretty cool to see.
“Surfing here used to be an underground culture but now it’s the “cool” thing to do. I’d say it’s much mellow and friendlier in the water compared to other countries.
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“It’s so much better to surf here – the locals are friendly, the water is warm, the location is beautiful and it’s fun.”
Elaine says she doesn’t want to label herself as anything she just hopes to promote the Philippines as a beautiful destination to the rest of the world and inspire other like-minded women.
“I don’t really want to name myself as anything, but I do want to be an ambassador for surfing in the Philippines and show the rest of the world that we live in a beautiful country with beautiful people,” she said.

“I also want to be an ambassador for women to show that we chicks CAN surf, we CAN travel and that we CAN do whatever we dream to do.”

 

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Carly Chivers – Soul Surfer

Carly Chivers is a 26-year-old surfer and yoga instructor living in Playa Gigante, Nicaragua. Although she was born in landlocked Winnipeg, Carly has been living and surfing in Nicaragua for two years.

733985_10152721566030293_1748052942_nShe currently works as a yoga teacher and a surf guide for the local surf lodge and runs yoga retreats with Papaya Wellness. I caught up with her at the local internet-café to have a smoothie and talk about living the dream in this little costal town.

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“I came here on a surf trip. I was planning on living in Costa Rica and teaching yoga for a few months but I started my surfing trip here. Playa Gigante was that place that I’ve always been looking for, it’s still really raw and untouched. Since I got here, I just haven’t been able to leave.”

Carly loves to surf and although she’s softly spoken, she speaks with heartfelt enthusiasm when she talks about her home break. One of her favorite things about her new home is the waves along the stretch of beach known to locals as Playa Amarillo (which means Yellow Beach in Spanish).

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“Surfing at Amarillio, is just so beautiful. When I think about all the incredible sunset surfs I’ve had there and paddling around the point in the evening when the water is all lit up with phosphorous. It’s like, ‘where am I’?’ This place is magical.”

Carly learned to surf 6 years ago. Whilst in-between semesters at college. She traveled to Europe where she learnt how to surf on the Algarve coastline in Portugal.

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“As soon as I started I fell in love with it. After that I kept traveling south. I stayed on the coast and surfed everyday. I spent a month in Morocco just surfing and experiencing this new passion.”

Growing up in Winnipeg, her college was in a small town 2 hours away.

“It was completely landlocked and in the middle of the prairies. My parents used to take us to the ocean on holiday and I always had this love affair. I would cry when we left.”

Her love affair with the ocean was what inspired her to paddle out for the first time in Portugal.

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“I stood up the first wave I ever caught and it was the most incredible thing in the world, I didn’t even stand up for the rest of the day. But I kept trying. There’s nothing else like it.”

These days Carly surfs everyday. Whether she is taking clients on surf trips to the beautiful breaks surrounding Playa Gigante, or just paddling out on her day off she is living her dream of being one with the ocean.

“Ever since I started surfing I’ve felt that it’s a lot like meditation. You’re on the wave and you are literally being moved by nature. You are connected and present. Surfing is a blissful form of meditation – there’s no time for inner struggle during surfing. It’s a totally unique feeling.”

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Carly likes to meditate and use her yoga practice to learn more about herself and her place in the world. Surfing  also helps her get in touch with her focus.

“It’s finding those things that offer you that sense of peace and connectedness that is really important.”

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It’s no wonder that after attending her first yoga class with her mum at 13, Carly is now a qualified yoga instructor. Together she and her friend India run Papaya Wellness, a yoga, health and wellness retreat in Playa Gigante (you can find out more about it here).

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Carly laughs about what her parents think of her living in rural Nicaragua.

“They love it, they are really proud of me because I’ve always had this dream of starting a wellness business and now we are actually doing it. I’m feeling happy and fulfilled and they are happy for me, but they are also like, “Nicaragua?”

After talking with Carly, you get a sense of her huge heart and her passion for health and wellness. She has a beautiful energy and when you take one of her yoga classes you leave feeling refreshed and empowered. She’s not only a positive influence on the town of Gigante, but spreads a great vibe to everyone she meets.

It is with great pleasure that I can announce – Carly is going to be contributing to Ola Niña, giving us health, wellness and surfing tips when she can! Welcome Carly and we can’t wait to spend more time with you. 🙂

If you’d like to find out more about Carly and Papaya Wellness, you can check out their website: www.papayawellness.com

By Carmen Angerer

Yoga and Surf Retreats in Nicaragua!

If you are thinking about making a surf trip, we highly recommed the sunny shores of Nicaragua in Central America. We travelled to Playa Gigante and found some incredible waves and some even more wonderful people.

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Our lovely friends at Papaya Wellness have some incredible retreats available, if you want to get away, eat healthy, surf and practice yoga everyday.

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Their all inclusive retreats will immerse you in mindful, recharging yoga and challenge you in the epic Nicaraguan surf. They’ve done all the work in the beautiful coastal town, to ensure that you will have nothing to worry about except having the most relaxing, healthy, fun and inspiring vacation!

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They offer all inclusive retreats to accommodate your needs for relaxation, rejuvenation and enjoyment, including airport transport, healthy detoxing meals, and a variety of yoga classes and surf sessions to keep you motivated and fulfilled. Papaya Wellness will take care of you for 7 days, with no worries!

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Papaya Wellness  also runs a variety of community projects that you can get involved in. They also have a regular yoga and fitness class schedule, so even if you don’t make a retreat, you can always surf and practice yoga in your own time!

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 As far as we are concerned, these retreats are 10/10. The location, the incredibly delicious healthy meals and the wonderful team at Papaya Wellness, make these retreats extra special.

Whether you are looking to improve your surfing, your yoga practice or both, you will leave rejuvenated and feeling empowered.

You can find out more and check out the upcoming retreats at their website: www.papayawellness.com