We are back with a new edition of the 'Surf Careers' Blog Series. This one is a particularly exciting one for me, as I used to live and work in French Polynesia before setting up Seafoam. So, when I came across Dutch beauty Luna Scherpenisse on Instagram, I was in awe of what she has achieved already at such a young age in such a beautiful place. Building a 'career' we will all envy... Read on and you are likely to consider selling up and moving.
Hi Luna, can you tell us a little more about yourself and where you are from?
I’m 24 years old and born & raised in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I have been living on Moorea, a little island in the Pacific Ocean, part of the French Polynesian island group, since I’m 20 years old.
How did you get into surfing and were you hooked from the start?
I got introduced to surfing fairly "late" at the age of 18, when I joined a surf camp in the south west of France with a friend. It was love at first sight, even though it’s the hardest sport I have ever tried to learn! As soon as I finished high school, I tried to find a way to be able to surf as much as possible and spend all my time in the water. So I decided to take a gap year and do a surf teacher and live saving course in South Africa. I figured that, working as a surf teacher, I’d get to spend as much time in the water as possible. After 6 months in South Africa and Mozambique I worked a summer as a surf teacher in the North Sea in Holland.
Did you go to university after your gap year and did you find any studies you could combine with your love for surfing?
After my summer working as a surf teacher I started university in Amsterdam, however from the start I didn’t feel happy and I really missed being outdoors, surrounded by nature and I hated not being able to surf. I stopped just after one month so I wouldn’t have to pay the expensive university fees. I thought it was quite useless to spend years at university learning about something I knew I wasn’t going to end up doing. I ended up travelling the winter to Nicaragua and Indonesia to improve my surfing and I worked the whole summer at the surf camp in France where I surfed for the first time. This time as a surf teacher and it was the best decision I could have made! That summer I also met my current boyfriend, Clément, a French surfer and surf teacher, we fell in love and the rest is history haha.
You are now based in Moorea, French Polynesia. What inspired you to move out there?
My boyfriend Clem already moved to Tahiti before, he came back to France to obtain his surf instructor license in order to work in Tahiti as a surf instructor. Whilst he worked in France, we met and he asked me to come to French Polynesia with him. Once we arrived we ended up living on the smaller sister island of Tahiti, Moorea. Moorea is very beautiful and natural, it’s a lot less densely populated than Tahiti. We do not have any nightclubs or bars and there's really no city or anything, but we do have the ocean and the nature and I find that it’s all I need in the end.
You are now running Private Boat Tours, it looks like the dream job as a surfer! Was it hard to set up a business in a different country?
On Moorea it’s not possible to teach surfing as there are only reef breaks available, which are not suitable for teaching. As we still wanted to be on the ocean as much as possible, we started a little private boat tour company. My boyfriend Clément is the captain and I am the guide. It was by far the hardest thing I ever did, starting a company in a foreign country. I had to learn French and we had to gain a lot of qualifications and invest all of our savings. We also had to get accepted into a small island community. If I had known how difficult it would be, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have started but I’m very happy we did it anyways!
What does your typical working day look like?
Most of our clients reserve in advance, but it does happen we get last minute reservations as well. So we always have to be flexible in making our schedule. When we have a tour day, we wake up at 04:30 am to prepare our boat for the day. We will pick our guests up at their hotel and see what they'd like to see and discover. As we run private tours we try to personalise every tour to our clients wishes and it’s very fun because not one tour is the same. When we do two tours a day, we will be on the water all day and only get back home after sunset, so our working days are long but very much worth it!
Do you still manage to go surfing often next to running your boat tours?
During the high tourist season it’s definitely harder to get our surf hours in. We both love surfing so we try our very best to sneak a session in whenever we can. We try to plan our tours around the surf, we know we are doing a better job during our tours if we also get our surf fix in, so we definitely try our best to make room in our schedule for surf sessions!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This is a question I can’t really answer, I’m not much of a planner so I really don’t know where live is going to take me. 5 years ago I would have never ever have thought I would be living on a little island in the Pacific Ocean, and I have no idea where I’m going to be in 5 years from now. Right now, I’m super happy where I’m at and I’m so grateful for everything I’ve learned and experienced in the past five years.
Is there anything you particularly miss from the Netherlands?
Apart from my family and friends, who I miss so so so much, not really anything in particular. Well, maybe the ‘Hollandse appeltaart’ from my grandma , I tried to recreate it myself but nothing comes close to my grandma’s recipe haha!
I’m sure our readers will want to jump on a plane to visit you, is there any time of year that is better for travelling to French Polynesia and surfing there?
There are definitely waves all year around, so anytime of the year is good! But I do have to add that you will need to have a very decent level of surfing before coming to surf out here. The waves are mostly reef breaks and very powerful and can be quite dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Also be prepared to save up quite a bit, as it is one of the most expensive countries to go for a surf trip.
Do you have any advice for people who are looking to combine a watersports passion with work?
Find a job that allows you to create your own schedule, this way you will be most likely to not miss out on good conditions. Also make sure to not lose yourself in your work.. working is important to earn money and have a certain level of independence, but there is a lot more to life that money can’t buy..
Learn as you go! Don’t wait for perfect opportunities to arrive or until you feel “ready”. Opportunities you create yourself by doing and you never know until you try! Most importantly, try to enjoy the process and not only “the result”.