One of the hottest beach-wear accessories for women this summer is a surfboard. More women are attending girls-only surfing camps and participating in competitions. According to Board-Trac, a California research firm specializing in action sports, 16% to 22% of the country's 2.4 million surfers are female, and the percentage of women surfing every day has more than doubled in the past three years. "We've come a long way since Gidget," says Board-Trac managing director Marie Case. Hollywood has picked up on the trend; Disney's Lilo & Stitch and Universal's Blue Crush, both of which celebrate female surfing, may make riding the waves even more popular.
And why not? Surfing is a perfect girl's sport, says Isabelle (Izzy) Tihanyi, a competitive surfer and founder of the all-girls Surf Diva school in La Jolla, Calif. "Women have natural grace and agility. Surfing is not about power. It's about dancing well with the waves." So where can would-be Kelly Slaters go to master their boarding skills?
KELEA SURF SPA Oahu, Hawaii keleasurfspa.com Weeklong sessions for women 18 and older start at $1,175 and are next available in February. Full spa services, meals and beachside lodging included.
SURF DIVA La Jolla, Calif. surfdiva.com Year-round weekend clinics for girls and women are $115 for four hours. Private lessons start at $65 an hour. Weekday clinics cost $300 for 10 hours.
LAS OLAS Punta Minta, Nayarit, Mexico surflasolas.com Seven-day surf safaris, from $1,795 to $2,395, include meals, ocean-side lodging, daily yoga lessons and private massage. They run from October to June.
MAUI SURFER GIRLS Maui, Hawaii mauisurfergirls.com A 12-day overnight camp for girls 12 to 17, for around $2,000, includes Hawaiian-bracelet-making classes and mountain hikes. The next is in 2003, but $250 weekend clinics run all year.
--By Isabel C. Gonzalez