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  • Writer's pictureSara Strachan

Catching up with Zala Cuden on surfing and life in the tropics.

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

If you have come across Zala before you will know that she is often found in dream surf locations, living an idyllic lifestyle and surfing gnarly waves. I caught up with Zala to find out a bit more about the girl behind the instagram profile.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up surfing in the Mentawai's?

I am Zala from Slovenia. I am 28 years old and I have been surfing for almost 10 years. I ended up surfing in Mentawais because of my job. At what age did you start surfing as there's not much surf in Slovenia and you are known for surfing some pretty big waves! 

I started quite late, when I was 19. For the first couple of years I was learning how to surf in surf camps, later I did my license for surf instructor and that’s how I started traveling a lot and teaching around the world. I wouldn’t say I am surfing big waves, but definitely bigger than at home :)

Are you currently teaching surfing in the Mentawai's or have any plans to teach again in the future? 

Currently I am teaching on Mentawais for another 3 months and then going to Spain for August and September. After that I don’t have a fixed plan yet. Tell us what is involved in being a social media manager?

I run Instagram accounts for different people. For some of the accounts I am also doing photos so that’s also a big part of it. Its definitely everyday commitment. When it comes to your everyday ritual its not hard at all.

Give us a typical 'day in the life of Zala' whilst living on the tropical Mentawai's: 

Wake up around 6am or 6.30. Eat breakfast, go for a surf or lesson. Some back, eat lunch, post instagrams, surf or lesson again, post the rest of instagrams, eat dinner, sleep at 9pm. Simple. What do you miss when you are living on a remote tropical island? 

Ice cream! And socializing…since we don’t have any bars and restaurants here…

If you could go to anywhere in the world, that you haven't yet been to, where would you go and why? 

Hawaii (just check the pictures how pretty is there!), Australia- waves are amazing! And Fiji- probably just to watch others surfing massive waves. Fresh coconut or Fresh mango juice?

Ohh that’s a tough one! Lets go with fresh mango juice!

You seem to always be in lots of interesting destinations, what are your must have travel essentials? 

Must have are definitely surfboard and lots of bikinis. Have you seen the impact of plastic pollution on your travels and what do you do to minimise your footprint? 

All the time to be honest. There is more and more trash even on those remote islands. On our island everyone is trying to reduce use of plastic. We are picking trash on the beach all the time. Our straws are made out of papaya- which I think is amazing! I always carry my bag with me so I refuse taking any plastic (which in Indonesia is quite hard). I heard they banned plastic on Bali and I was super happy…but in reality they are still using it. So its just on the paper. 

My friend Intan and her friends they start this movement @careoceanproject in Padang. They are cleaning beaches and also teach people why we shouldn’t use plastic.

By the way…as much money they raise with helping to reconstruct Notre Dame (1 billion) would be enough to clean up all of the Great Pacific Garbage patch. Which makes me really angry…who is donating for the ocean?? I can talk about it all day…so many things to talk about.

Any tips you can give others to lessen their impact on the oceans? 

Refuse if you can’t reuse.

If you could throw any party where money or reality were not important, describe what you would choose to do. Where would it be, who would be invited, what music would be playing etc. 

If its imaginary world I would do party with Game of Thrones characters in Kings landing. 

Any advice you can give to girls starting out in surfing; e.g. with managing fear, being in a male dominated line up, having bikini failures etc. 

Fear is something that you loose on your long surfing journey. Guys will always dominate the line up (they usually think girls don’t know how to surf), but when they see you surf, you can prove them wrong. That’s how you get respect in the line up. Next wave they will let you catch one. Bikinis failures…it happens to everyone. I can recommend Zealous clothing- stays on.

Describe to us your best surfing experience to date? 

I think its going to be when I get barrelled… :)

Zala surfing Icelands: Photo credit @cuervoxer

Zala's Aqua Starbusrt ring sunbaking on the beach

Where is your favourite break and why? 

I like Mentawai islands in general. Every wave is different but I like them all. I cant pick just one.

Which Ocean Boheme design is currently your favourite and why? 

Aqua sunburst! Beautiful color!

What are your plans after the Mentawai's

So I'm staying here till the end of July, then going to spain (Zarautz) for two month and after that maybe going back to Mentawais or Canary islands. 

Where can people find you online?

You can check out my journey on Instagram @zalacuden

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