Sorry, your version of Internet Explorer is too old to view properly.

Why not try Chrome instead.



Carissa Moore & co explore Caribbean Panama

Three Amigas © Agustin Munoz/Red Bull Content Pool

Surf Travel

Surfing Girls: Carissa Moore steps into the unkown

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 10 October, 2012 : - - Carissa Moore left the crowded surf spots of the world behind recently as she went in search of a brand new experience in Latin America. The young Hawaiian surfer, who finished third behind Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons on this year's ASP Women's World Tour, arrived in Panama to explore some undiscovered breaks with locals Malena Toral and Gary Saavedra, as well as the young Barbadian Chelsea Tauch.

Carissa's main objective was to ride the waves in Guna Yala, an indigenous territory comprising a narrow strip of mainland and 365 islands in the Caribbean Sea. After the trip, Carissa was full of wide-eyed excitement, telling us, "Some experiences in life make you stop for a moment and think about the simple things, the things that are truly important, the things that really matter. I just had one of those experiences." Let Carissa herself guide you through her Panamanian adventure…

After spending a few days in the country's capital city, Carissa and the gang left for the archipelago of Guna Yala and the tiny community of Playón Chico.

"The plane ride was quite a thrill – we flew in bad weather, very close to the treetops and between mountains. After landing, we took a dinghy ride to our island hotel where the local indigenous women helped us settle in. The living conditions were very simple. There was no phone reception or internet access. It was rustic, but pretty amazing." Straight away they discovered a small unsurfed beach break and went about naming it: "We named it Garichima after Gary, myself, Chelsea and Maleana. It’s pretty exciting to discover a wave and to be the first people to actually surf it."


                                     Carissa Moore © Agustin Munoz/Red Bull Content Pool


As anyone who's ever stayed with such an isolated community before will tell you, you're at the mercy of the elements. This is something Carissa learned on her first night in Guna Yala when a huge storm hit. "I thought our roof was going to blow away! Water was coming in through the roof, through the floor boards and through the walls. Needless to say, everything got soaked. It was quite hilarious actually."

The next day, though, things took a turn for the better as Carissa and her fellow wave riders took a helicopter ride over the islands and saw some of the most beautiful sights imaginable… as well as some promising breaks.

"We saw some nice reef formations that, with the right swell, could make some really fun waves. There are 49 different villages in the archipelago. The territory is very well protected by the indigenous people of Guna Yala, and access to the territory is only possible by plane or boat. That’s one of the main reasons why the area is so unspoilt and undiscovered surf-wise."

As well as catching waves on this unique trip, Carissa got to experience what life is like in the indigenous villages. "We visited one close by. There were approximately 3,000 people on one island that you could walk around in 20 minutes. I learned that people can only marry within their tribe, which sometimes produces albino skinned people. They call these kids, Children of the Moon."


                                           Locals © Agustin Munoz/Red Bull Content Pool


Much to Carissa's delight, she also learned that women in the tribe hold much of the power and are the main breadwinners, thanks to sales of Molas, layers and layers of fabric sewn into intricate designs. She picked up a few cooking tips, too, and was smitten by their make up, "a black line down their nose, as well as red stains on their cheeks made out of crushed annatto seeds."

Of this extraordinary experience, the young Hawaiian, who as a pro surfer isn't exactly short of life-changing trips, was almost breathless with wonder.

"It was one of those experiences when I realise just how lucky I am to be living the life I’m living. I'm so thankful for the simple luxuries of warm water, a solid roof, and electricity. I also realise that life is bigger than surf contests. It's about the simple things and the people around you, the people that you love. It was refreshing to get rid of all the distractions of our complicated lives and just go back to the basics, to what is really important."

"This experience has inspired me to ask more questions and learn more about the world. I usually travel to places to compete and don’t get to experience the cultures of the places that I go to. From now on, I want to take the time and learn more about how people live their lives."


                                    Surfacing © Agustin Munoz/Red Bull Content Pool


Surfing virgin territory, chowing down on local delicacies, making new friends and learning the next trend in the world of make up… it was one hell of an adventure for the young 2011 ASP world champion. One Carissa is determined not to take for granted.

"The craziest part is to think that if it wasn’t for stepping on a surfboard when I was four years old, then I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to travel to this unique and amazing place. I’m blessed."

Source: Red Bull

Author: The Editors / Carissa Moore

Tags: Carissa Moore, Red Bull, Panama

Surf Travel: Surfersvillage


Latest photos


Follow us and sign up to our daily newsletter