Snooki? J-WoW? The Situation? Thanks to MTV's terrible reality TV Show, Jersey Shore, it portrayed the Shore as a poor man's version of Atlantic City. Even worse, the beach area was invaded by cheesy, raunchy and drunken guidos and guidettes during the warm weather months.
Despite the fact that I coincidentally scheduled my visit during the Gentlemen of Road 2015 music festival weekend. Seaside police had it very well-controlled, that it astounded me how civilized concert-goers were!
In any event, thank goodness I received the real Jersey Shore experience from local surfer chick, Kim Kepich. Not only is she one of the most kind-hearted individuals I have ever met, but is fiercely dedicated to making her passion for surfing into a profession. Determined to show me the real shore experience, I got to hit up great local eateries, boutiques and tried out local dishes like the super addictive and delish, NJ pork roll and amazing crumb buns.
During my Jersey Shore tour, I checked out a stellar Mexican place, La Tapatilla,
with the spiciest camarones ala diabla, tasted the Shores's best homemade ice cream (coffee oreo) at Hoffman's - a local favourite and cruised around on a bike enjoying the view. Despite its bad rep for trashy bars on the Seaside boardwalk, the Jersey Shore area has a great deal of class and charm. Lined with charming beach homes, boats on the bay, cute boutiques on Grand Central (House of Lucky, My Sister's Jewelry Box, B & B, etc.) and long stretch of clean, white sand beaches - it really is worth a visit.
The best part of the beautiful Jersey Shore? You get water on both sides.
The Atlantic is a great place for surfing, boogie boarding, body surfing, sea glass hunting or just hanging out. The Bay side is quite lovely as well for wake boarding, boating, crabbing and of course, my fave SUPing.
A Jersey native, Kim grew up with salt water in her veins. Surfing for most of her life alongside her sister, Jill, these two passionate surfers joined forces to become Lavallette entrepreneurs of Surfing the Dream. The veteran contest winners have over 15 years of experience, surfed almost 20 countries and are endorsed by names like Designer Whey (in the midst of re-branding to Designer Protein), O'Neill and iSurfiYoga. Their mission? To share their love of surfing - a healthy & fun way for people of all ages to get outside and enjoy the water.
When they aren't working or teaching summer surf lessons, the surfing K sisters (Kepich not Kartrashian) continue their travels to conquer the world's waves in places like Taiwan, Indonesia, Australia, Peru, Kauai, Costa Rica, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Morocco.
I had the opportunity to chat with Kim at Lava Java, a local coffee hotspot with a killer pork roll breakfast sandwich, to get more details on the business that she and her sister founded in Lavallette, NJ.
Surfing seems like a really hot trend across the world. What does the sport mean to you?
Surfing has been my life (literally) as it has made a major impact on all my life choices. Surfing is so much more than a sport or trend, it's my lifestyle. It gets you hooked on life. I try to surf every day and if I can't, I do surf yoga or take a walk on the beach to be close to what makes me happiest - the ocean and surfing!
I'm really impressed that you've turned what you truly love into a business. What inspired you to start up a surfing business in Lavallette?
I used to give surf lessons to family friends a few times each summer. Honestly, we were inspired by our students. We saw how stoked they were about surfing by their hard work and dedication. The excitement from my students after a surf lesson was so rewarding and wanted to continue the positive vibes. I remembered how I felt the same way when I was a grom, and I'm so fortunate to have learned great life lessons because of surfing.
I want to share surfing with others because it's super healthy fun! Surfing is the best medicine for the mind and body. Just being in the ocean is so peaceful and relaxing. When you are riding waves, it's a great workout for the whole body. It's an awesome feeling to have an activity that allows you to keep fit and have fun at the same time.
Given that I'm Canadian and love the surf lifestyle, I am always looking for places to try and even recommend. How is surfing with Surfing the Dream different from your competitors?
Jill and I offer very competitive rates and have over 15 years of surfing experience, locally and globally. We have competed nationally in surf contests, traveled the world and still managed to do well in college and grad school.
Our lessons are very personal and customized to our students needs. We are highly attentive and ensure that the lessons are tailored to students for all levels of surf and ocean experience.
Also, we are looking to expand our offerings to other surf-related services.... but, you'll have to stay tuned for that!
Honestly, I see the surfing culture as a young person's activity and I'm not getting any younger! How old is too old to learn how to surf?
You're never too old to learn to surf! You can set your own pace surfing and there are no rules as to how you have to surf. Every person is unique and has their own style.
To read Kim's article on the Inertia website, Click Here.