MEET: Ryan Croteau
Age / Location / Passion
24 / Laguna Beach, CA / Surfing
Also stoke about
Traveling, surfboard shaping, resin/acrylic flow art
Favorite place to get outside
The city of Laguna Beach. It’s the perfect place to go for a paddle or snorkel the reefs. The city banned fishing so it is full of epic marine life. Laguna has such a unique coastal community full of art galleries + cool hidden beaches. I don’t mountain bike but it’s also ranked pretty high for mountain biking locations due to its mountain ranges that overlook the pacific, so I might have to get into that too, it looks so fun!
What’s your story?
I grew up in a small town in Florida called Hobe Sound, started surfing at age seven + became passionate about it. My parents entered me in my first surf contest when I was ten, somehow I won. I got super into the surf contest scene, acquired sponsorships + dedicated the next few years to traveling up and down the east coast doing all the major events. At age sixteen my dad got a job offer in California + we moved.
I surfed the pro junior series until I was nineteen + participated in a few events in the world qualifying series + traveled worldwide until the company endorsing me went out of business so I decided to surf for fun + use my money to travel the + free surf. It was really fun times + I’ve made so many friends all over the globe.
What’s something coming up this year that you’re really stoked about?
I’m really stoked to get a lot done with my company California Surf Experience. It’s a personalized surf camp + guiding business. I recently met with the city of Laguna Beach and will be adding a surf school to the program for daily lessons.
Who inspires you?
Kelly Slater really inspires me. Not only is he from Florida, but I love his entrepreneurial mindset. He really uses the power of his own mind for success in surfing + business. I admire that. I believe you can do so much from just visualizing things and he seems to be a strong believer in this too.
What is California Surf Experience?
I started California Surf Experience after visiting my girlfriend in Denmark about a year ago. I had tapped into the Danish surf community and met so many people that wanted to come to California but felt that they didn’t have the skill level or knowledge to get the to best spots. They said they would prefer to go to a camp or have a surf guide. There were no real overnight surf camps in California so I thought it was a great idea. I once did a camper van trip with my brother from England to Portugal and saw so many cool surf houses, and surf camps, it all just clicked for me. I love to travel, meet new people, and share experiences; so for me it was a no-brainer to create a company that would offer all of this.
How are you different than all the other surf instruction companies out there?
It’s a lot more than a surf instruction company. When I think surf instruction, I think of a quick 1-2-hour surf lesson. At California Surf Experience it’s personalized. You’re staying for a few days or a week at a time at one of the accommodations we offer. Every day, you’re going to new spots based on your skill level. You get the full California experience, from local food, seeing cool secret spots and classic surf sessions full of smiles. I also help the guest really improve their surfing. With my competitive background, I have lots of good tips on technique for improvement. It’s a full package. You arrive as a guest and leave as a lifelong friend.
Tell us about your favorite trip you’ve lead so far.
These two guys came over from Denmark in October and stayed for two weeks. I took them everywhere and had so much fun. Every session they had I heard them say “best session of my life.” They really wanted to work on improving their surfing since the quality of waves where they’re from are so bad. Being in California was a great opportunity to take their surfing to the next level. Every day I gave pointers and they seemed to improve each session with a lot of goofing around and constant fun. Here’s a video I made of their trip.
What are you up to when you’re not getting outside with California Surf Experience?
Lately, I have been doing a lot of artwork with surfboard resin. It’s super fun + therapeutic in a way.
What is something that you think is important?
Everyone is equal. Race, religion, beliefs. We are all humans and it seems a lot of people have forgotten that. We are all one. I really believe in everyone being seen as the same and having an equal chance at life. No matter who you are were all here together as brothers and sisters.
Favorite Instagram account?
@BLACKJAGUARWHITETIGER is super cool. This guy saves jaguars + tigers and also creates these amazing bonds with the animals. He plays with these giant cats like they are his kids. It’s so cool to see.
Post-surf go to eats?
I surf in Newport beach a lot because that’s where I originally moved to from Florida + went to high school, so that’s my local spot. I always stop at a place called Al Cappuccino for an Al Cap Special which is a bagel with cream cheese, sliced avocado, topped with a tangy lemon pepper. And a coffee of course.
Thanks for sharing your story with us. See you out in the water soon.
Stranded on Land