Shop Talk: Kristy Murphy’s Siren Surf Adventures
Longboard Champion Kristy Murphy and Hawaiian-raised waterwoman Cat Slatinsky, the duo behind Siren Surf Adventures, have been globe hopping the tropical waters of the Atlantic and Pacific for the past five years. Together, the ladies lead surf and SUP getaways that are packed with adventure. — Tom Fucigna
SUP mag: What are the origins of Siren Surf Adventures?
Cat: Kristy and I were both working at a beach in Mexico. She was a guide for a company that took people surfing and I was hustling surf lessons and selling surf photos. Kristy would hire me to help with some of her private tours. We worked well together, plus we had heaps of surf equipment and had a lot of fun working together, so it was really a no-brainer. Siren Surf Adventures was in effect.
SUP mag: How would you describe your business philosophy?
Cat: Accept life more as an adventure than a plan. That’s probably not a great business plan, but Kristy and I are not business people. We are ocean people that have a business, so fun and adventure are our priority.
SUP mag: What are your backgrounds, and why did you decide to become instructors and guides?
Cat: We have dedicated our entire lives to the ocean. We both caught our first waves when we were about four years old, and Kristy's dad taught her how to dive and spear fish in Florida. I grew up in California and Hawaii. It was inevitable that we would become professional waterwomen. We were both traveling professional surfers competing in elite Longboard divisions—Kristy is the 2005 Women’s World Longboard Champ.
After we were finished competing Endless Summer II‘s Robert “Wingnut” Weaver asked Kristy to work for him as a professional surf guide with his “Go With A Pro” V.I.P. surf guide company. Meanwhile, I worked for Pipeline Master Larry Rios in Waikiki, teaching people to surf, and I'm a surf videographer and photographer. I’ve worked for Fuel TV, made a full length women’s surf movie, and have been published in multiple magazines. We have been very lucky in life! We started Siren Surf Adventures in 2007.
SUP mag: How do you work your program?
Cat: We try to be in one place for at least three months at a time, so we’re in Mexico, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and Florida/Bahamas for three months each. On a typical day, we hit the ocean after breakfast to surf, SUP or paddle surf for three or four hours. After lunch, we usually do an activity. Kristy is the activity guru, so there is always something to do on land. If you want to dive, hike, do yoga, ride horses, shop or whatever, Kristy will take you to the best place to do it.
Our retreats also include yoga and massage. The beauty of our adventure retreats is that we aren’t locked down to one spot or plan. We can do whatever we want, wherever we want. It’s truly a surf and SUP extravaganza!
SUP mag: What about the other facets of your adventures?
Cat: Because we live at each of our destinations for three months at a time, we’ve made awesome friends with the locals and we have built great relationships over the years. We want people to eat the local food and experience the culture. In addition, the food we prepare is organic and local.
SUP mag: When did you first add SUP to your program?
Cat: We always knew that standup paddling was going to be huge and we were one of the first, if not the first, companies to offer standup paddle retreats and not just hourly lessons. I remember watching Tony Moniz give standup lessons on the beach in Waikiki, long before anyone really knew about standup paddling, and we thought, "Wow! We need to be offering standup tours in the Bahamas!" When we started Siren Surf Adventures we knew that SUP had to be fully included.
SUP mag: Are you associated with Siren brand boards?
Cat: Siren is the the women’s surfboard line that shaper Kevin Shaugnessy started with Kristy and another surfer, Jenni Flannigan. When we started doing our retreats, Kevin told us we could use the name.
When we first started SUPing there were only huge Laird boards, and Kristy kept telling Kevin that we needed smaller boards. Kevin didn’t believe her when she told him we could make them smaller, especially for women, who notoriously have better balance. Kevin gave her one of his 9’6" noserider surfboards and told her that, if she could standup on it and make it out through the surf, he would shape her a nine-foot SUP. She hopped on the board, easily paddled out and caught wave after wave on it. When she came in, he said, “OK, I’ll make you a nine-foot SUP.” Next thing you knew, everyone had a smaller SUP.
SUP mag: What else makes your program work?
Cat: The Aloha spirit is so important to our company, and is one of the reasons why we have been accepted by the locals at each of our destinations. We try to give back to each community as much as possible by doing free surf lessons for the locals and beach clean ups, or helping to take care of the animals.
My all-time idol is Duke Kahanamoku, and we've learned from his legacy, as well as from Hawaiian friends, about the spirit of Aloha—to not only share waves in the ocean, but to share in life in general. A lot of surfers don’t like surf schools because they don’t want more people out in the water competing with them for waves. To those people, we like to say everyone deserves a chance to learn how to surf, and it’s better that they learn from us, because we teach surf etiquette but, mostly, we teach about the Aloha spirit. We want to teach people how to have fun, to be safe, and to share, in and out of the water.