Paradies tree

21 Questions with Lindsey Holland

In this new editorial series, we sit down with inspiring surfers around the world and ask 21 rapid-fire questions about everything from surf gear to wipeouts to bucket list trips. In today’s inaugural episode, London-based surfer and founder of Marnie Rays Surf & Wellness Retreats Lindsey Holland gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of her journey, what’s in her surf kit, and her future plans. 

Lindsey Holland is a former physiotherapist-turned-fashion blogger from Manchester who fell into surfing just three years ago. At age 33 and in the wake of a disorienting breakup, she booked a ticket to Portugal to get away from it all and learn how to surf. Little did she know, that decision would do far more than help her find her way back to herself post-breakup. It would also set her on a life and career trajectory beyond her wildest hopes and dreams.

Photo by Ez Rivero

For quite a few years, fashion blogging hadn’t been fun or fulfilling for Holland. She craved more for her life but didn’t know what or where to turn to find it. “I’ve always struggled to find my place in how I can show up for people in a community setting,” Holland says. “How I can offer people value instead of just being another person online that’s showing them seven ways to wear a pair of jeans. That’s just not my flow at all.”

As surfing started to take up more and more space in her life, she couldn’t help but share her journey with her online community on Instagram. “People were really engaging with my story because I was a woman in my mid-30s, learning something new for the first time, and being completely honest about it all,” she notes, recalling those first few posts. “Surfing was bringing me so much joy.”

It was on a surf trip in Hawaii that she decided to casually mention to her community that she was thinking about creating and hosting her own laidback-but-luxe surf retreat. The goal was an experience that played up the gorgeous community elements she’d found at surf retreats she’d been to, but that didn’t force guests into bunk beds, shared bathrooms, over-packed schedules, and inflexible dietary choices. The seed was planted right then and there for Marnie Rays, and her community went wild for it. 

“It all just happened so fast,” she says. “Everybody was like ‘oh my goodness, when is this launching? What’s happening?’ And I was like, I have to do this. I have to create this thing now.” And so she did. Her first Marnie Rays retreat in Aljezur, Portugal, last September sold out immediately. This year, she has four retreats slated, with four more scheduled for next year in locations as far flung as Costa Rica, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and, of course, Portugal, where it all began. 

Now three years into the salty life, Holland is finding her footing as a newfound entrepreneur in the surf retreat space and riding the wave of fate and fulfillment that surfing has so beautifully and surprisingly sent her on. Surfing is here to stay in her life, and in her career, too. When we asked Holland why she surfs, this was her answer: “I surf for both the joy and the pain. It’s a really confronting sport and I think I need to confront myself quite often to put my life and the things in my life into perspective.” 

Want to know more about Holland? Keep reading for our rapid-fire Q&A.

1. First place you ever surfed, and how old were you?

Portugal, 33!

2. What or who inspired you to start surfing?

Can I say a mental breakdown!? 

3. Last place you surfed?

Costa Rica

4. Next place you’ll surf?


5. Favorite time of day to surf?

Crack of dawn 

6. All-time favorite surf spot?

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

7. No. 1 place you want to surf before you die?


8. What’s in your surf kit right now that you’re obsessed with?

Nagnata surf two-piece—secure and chic!

9. What suit or wetsuit are you surfing in these days?

This is tough! I prefer non-wetsuit water … so I’m always reaching for my Zulu & Zephyr surf suit, FP Movement surf suit, and Abysse wetsuits.

10. Go-to board?

9-foot longboard. FUN is the key.

11. Dream surf gear collab?

O’Neill—I LOVE their wetsuits.

12. Your ultimate surfer crush?

I want to be best mates with Caity Simmers.

13. Best thing about surfing?

The pure joy and therapy of it.

14. Worst thing about surfing?

The wipeouts and frustration.

15. Worst surf injury you’ve ever experienced?

There are a few. But let’s go with the mild concussion.

16. Your most embarrassing surf moment?

Wiping out hard in front of a pro surfer and wanting to crawl out of my own body.

17. Favorite thing to do when not surfing?

Connect to myself! Lots of reading, meditating—very new hobbies for me. 

18. Favorite way to cross-train for surfing?

Fluidform Pilates and cardio for the paddling.

19. Your pre- and post-surf routine?

Pre is a big stretch and a couple of minutes of breathwork at the beach. Post is so much food and a nap.

20. Favorite or most memorable pre- and post-surf meal?

I don’t eat pre-surf as it’s usually so early, but after, it’s usually a protein-packed fruit smoothie and rice, halloumi, plantain, fried eggs, and avo.

21. Greatest lesson surfing has taught you?

Patience and being gentle with myself; also, listening to my body more. My brain says “surf every day without fail” and my body says “please take a couple days’ rest.” It’s a conflict!

The next Marnie Rays retreat runs from June 6-11 and June 11-16, 2024 in Aljezur, Portugal, with two more retreats scheduled for later this year in Bali, Indonesia, and Cornwall, England. Prices start at $1,035 per person for 5 nights.

Share Story

Related Articles