FROM CALIFORNIA TO AUSTRALIA, women around the world have been surfing for decades – or, in Hawaii’s case, centuries. Yet whether you’re used to pulling on a damp wetsuit in the middle of winter, or slapping on SPF 50 year-round, there’s one thing nearly all female surfers have in common: the feeling of being in the minority in the water.
Just because female surfers are outnumbered, doesn’t mean they should be underestimated. While admittedly still small, the global women’s surfing community is growing exponentially, largely thanks to badass communities of female wave riders around the world. Here are groups of female chargers who are carving the way forwards for all women in the water.
1. Siargao, The Philippines
“When you’re surfing in the Philippines, you’re treated like a princess,” says Filipino surfer Elaine Abonal and founder of Surfista Travels, a surf school on the island of Siargao. “Female surfers here are encouraged and cheered on in the lineup – you would never see a guy saying to another girl here to get out just because she was a chick!”
Siargao is a tropical paradise of blue ocean, stunning beaches, and multiple reef breaks. It’s also where you can surf the Philippines’ most famous break, “Cloud Nine”, a perfect barreling wave that frequently appears on lists of the world’s best surf spots. On this island, as Elaine says, “Women surfers don’t just exist; they dominate.”
More and more women are learning to surf each year and they have plenty to inspire them. The island hosts the annual Siargao International Women’s Surfing Cup, with female surfers traveling from all over the world to compete against the local talent, and last year Siargao hosted the first ever World Surf League Qualifying Series women’s event to be held in the Philippines.
The women surfing in Siargao aren’t all seasoned pros. The island also has a selection of waves for intermediate surfers, a few beginner spots and, most importantly, a hugely supportive environment for female surfers.