The Lowlands Series - Anne Leerink

Surfing and traveling are two life choices that go hand in hand for many adventure seekers. The thrill of catching the perfect wave and exploring new destinations is a dream come true for those who love the ocean and crave new experiences. In this interview, we talked to a seasoned Lowlands surfer and avid traveler to learn more about their surfing and travel experiences. Get ready to be truly inspired by Anne Leerink!

Anne Leerink Lowlands Blog Series

Hi Anne, being from the Netherlands. How did surfing enter your life?

I come from a family that loves water sports, my whole family sails and my dad loves windsurfing. So we would always spend our holidays in and around the water. When I was younger my dad taught me windsurfing and we spent quite some holidays doing that. When I was around 17 years old we went on a holiday to Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, which is a good place for windsurfing. During that trip I saw people wave surfing and I told my family: ''That looks so fun, can we go try that?'' So me and my whole family ended up taking a surf lesson, I remember standing up with straight legs very out of position but I rode the wave to the beach and thought to myself: "Alright, now I know what I'll be doing for the rest of my life". Ever since I have been hooked, it was a bit hard during my studies to find the time and friends to go surfing, not living close to the ocean and having to deal with the very fickle waves of the Netherlands. But when I finished my studies in 2017, I basically took off into the world and surfed close to everyday. 

"I thought to myself: Alright, now I know what I'll be doing for the rest of my life."

Where has surfing taken you? Has it become a part of who you are?

When I was a kid and teenager surfing was not a part of my life, so life definitely looked different back then. Now it's probably one of the biggest priorities in my life so that makes a big difference. Surfing is a part of who I am right now for sure, for the last years I have been traveling around the world to find the best possible waves, explore the earth we live on, experience different cultures and communities and make connections with people I otherwise would never have. So I am very thankful for all that. I think to myself sometimes where life would have brought me without surfing, would I have taken the 9-5 job? Would I have lived in Amsterdam my whole life? Surfing brought me a lot of freedom, I took surfing everyday as a base and made life work around it, I found a remote job that gives me a base income and allows me to work whenever it suits me. Besides that I am working as a Surf coach for Surf With Amigas, a women's surf retreat which has different locations all over the world. 

Anne Leerink surfing

So surfing lead to travelling. How long have you been 'on the road'?

In 2017, right after I finished my thesis, I booked a ticket and left. When I just started exploring the world I didn't have an online job or anything like that, so I would work in the Netherlands, save up and then travel. To make it work I would volunteer at hostels or surf camps so that would cover my food and bed, everything just to be able to surf everyday. Since COVID I am working remotely for a Dutch company that gives me the freedom to work whenever I want, from wherever I want. Just a couple of hours a day. I did that for a few years, worked a couple of hours and surfed, explored the rest of the day. But believe it or not, I got a little bit bored and started to ask myself: "So this is it?" I like being busy, I honestly love working, but preferably with my hands. Last year traveling in Costa Rica I made some friends in the water who are coaches at Surf With Amigas and they were looking for new instructors, so the next year I came back and started working for them as a surf coach. And I absolutely love it, being in the water all day with friends, sharing waves, eating good food and doing fun activities. It's been fun!

Anna Leerink surf instructor

Did surfing always have an influence on your choice of studies and work?

Studies, not so much. I had my first surf lesson just before I started to study and I knew I wanted to finish in order to get some kind of papers. You never know if you are gonna need them! Work wise for sure, I tried the 9-5 jobs when I did my internships but pretty quickly figured out that this was not for me. I felt like I was locked up every Monday to Friday from 9-5 and got released on the weekends. I missed the freedom and just wanted to be outside, in nature. I did not see myself doing that for the upcoming 40 years, I was dreaming of exploring the world and getting better at surfing. So, I just left without much of a plan and let life happen. I believe that life wants the best for you so I have never been worried about running out of money or not having a place to sleep because I believe that things in life happen the way they are supposed to. There is no right or wrong, just lessons to learn from.

Where do you call home now?

So the last few years I have been calling South Africa, Indonesia, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, El Salvador, New Zealand, the Netherlands and many other places home. Always moving around definitely made me miss a base, so my solution to that was to buy a van, convert it in the Netherlands and ship it over to Central America. So wherever I go I have my little home with me. And that's been really good instead of living out of a backpack. 

Anne Leerinks dutch van in central america

Shipping your surf van from the Netherlands to Central America, I reckon that is a pretty unique experience. What gave you the idea? Why didn’t you just buy a van out there?

When I came up with the plan of living in a van in Central America I looked into vans around that area but I couldn't find any that I wanted to call my home. Besides that I always dreamed of converting my own van together with my granddad. So Last November I bought the van and started building from scratch, in February the van was finished and I shipped it over to Mexico, drove down to southern Costa Rica in a week and started working for Surf With Amigas.

Anne Leerink with her family

Do you get funny looks/questions driving around the other side of the world with a Dutch number plate? :)

Definitely, my Dutch number plate brought me into some funny, interesting conversations. But honestly Dutch people seem to be the most confused when running into my Dutch number plate. 

Where are you off to next?

I'll be spending Christmas at home in the Netherlands and after I'll be going back to Mexico where my van is parked to start driving down to Southern Costa Rica to work another season. 

Anne Leerink surfing

Any wisdom you'd like to share with fellow ocean women?

Just a little note for everyone who is seeking a similar lifestyle with more freedom, just go do it. I believe there is always a way if you want something. Sometimes you just have to dare to let go and go all in without any expectations or plans and see where life brings you! I can assure you it's gonna be quite an adventure! :)

Anne Leerink toes on the nose

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