Chicks on Waves in the Spotlight: Emma van Leenen

Life can change in an instant, I think we all know that by now. The last 2 years alone have changed so much for many… But it doesn’t mean it will always be for the worse. Every season we experience first hand how surfing changes many lives for the better.

For Emma van Leenen it even meant a move to the other side of the world.


Name: Emma va Leenen

Age: 31 years old
From: The Netherlands, but living in Lennox Head, Australia

Surfing Since: 8-9 years 


When was your first stay with Chicks on Waves and was it your first experience with surfing?

I found out about COW through a thorough internet search back in 2012 or 2013. I had surfed once before back in The Netherlands, but that was a pretty average lesson, so I wouldn’t say I had ever surfed before. I had always wanted to learn how to surf, but never before really had a chance, up until then when I got a few weeks off.

How did you experience learning to surf? What has been your biggest achievement and challenge in surfing so far?

I would say I am still learning how to surf, although lots of other people might think I surf pretty well (I hope this doesn’t sound bad 😉 ). I think every time you go back into the water, the conditions are different and you yourself might be super energized or a bit tired, all influencing how you surf that day. 

My biggest achievement so far is probably learning how to hang five and then actually making it back down the board to keep going. Getting up the nose is already challenging, but making your way back down is a whole other challenge. Haha!


What did you love most about that first trip with Chicks on Waves?
During my first COW trip I got extremely lucky to meet a group of amazing supportive women who all seemed to get along really well. It was such an amazing feeling to go away by yourself, but to meet all these women you’d otherwise never meet, who were all extremely supportive. We had lots of laughs, good conversations and just an overall amazing time.

Have you been back since?

I think I went back about 4 different times, a couple of these I stayed multiple weeks, just because I loved the place and people so much, and it was my only time where I actually improved lots.


Has surfing taken you to new places you might not have gone otherwise? 

For sure! It made me move across the globe to Australia, because I fell in love with it head over heels. I decided that I wanted to live somewhere where I could surf every day and that’s exactly what I did, a little over 5 years ago now.

I basically only go on surf trips now and am always drawn to the ocean. Last year, just before Covid happened, I went to a place in the middle of nowhere in Costa Rica for a week, just to surf, which was amazing! After that I flew to California to stay with a friend for a bit and her dad lended me one of his old longboards, which was amazing as well.


How has it impacted your life in general?

Well, I have moved across the world for it and I honestly can’t imagine a life without it anymore. I now live close to Byron Bay, in an area with lots of amazing surf beaches and point breaks and I try to surf every single day. I feel like it has made me a whole different person; much happier and more grounded and I feel like I have found the thing I love to do most in life. 🙂 If I haven’t been able to surf for a couple of days I tend to get grumpy and I just need that feeling you can only get when you catch a wave. A bit crazy, but true! Haha!

Would you be where you are now if you hadn’t learnt to surf?

I have no clue where I would be now if I wouldn’t have learnt how to surf. I would quite possibly still live in The Netherlands and own a small cafe or something…(I am a chef and have always wanted to start my own business).


What would you want to tell anyone thinking of making a booking with us?

Just do it! Surfing is such an amazing sport and you will meet lots of other like-minded women, who are always super supportive and in for a good laugh and/or chat. I would recommend it to everyone!