When the 14th Annual Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro kicks off September 17th, 21-year-old surf pro Zoë Mcdougall will take to waves alongside 87 other female surfers showing off their skills against the backdrop of Oceanside Pier. A co-sponsor of the event, The Mission Pacific Hotel is also a great place to fuel up before a day of spectating, or head to The Rooftop Bar to get a birds-eye view of the action. We caught up with Zoë after she landed in Oceanside to practice, fresh off a summer of surfing at home on Oahu’s North Shore. Learn more about her favorite waves, where she hangs out in Oceanside, and how female surfers are changing the game—and if you’re local, come out to cheer her on in person!
On Growing Up in Hawaii’s Surf Culture
I was lucky enough to be raised on the North Shore, which is the epicenter of all kinds of surfing. I started competing at a really young age, just in fun little kid events, and then began internationally traveling to compete around 14. Pretty much every one of my neighbors growing up was or is a pro surfer, so my community is super supportive of it. Right now I’m staying at one of my best friend Coco Ho’s house. We’re from the same place and she’s been a mentor to me. We’ve been surfing in Oceanside together the past few days, and she’s surfing better than ever, so I’m excited to see her compete.
Her Favorite Places Around the World to Catch Waves
I love being home, it’s the greatest place in the world to surf. I also just got to go to Indonesia for the first time, which was incredible. But I can’t really choose favorites, I just like to enjoy where I am. You can find fun waves wherever you go, it just depends on the day. Growing up in Hawaii I’m used to really powerful swells, so getting used to smaller weaker conditions was a learning curve. It’s just less powerful than coming out of the trenches, so that’s a challenge for me. But I love it all!
The Oceanside Surf Conditions
I’ve been in the Super Girl Surf Pro for a few years now, and I love Oceanside. Because of Covid, the last event I was in was actually here in Oceanside, so it’s nice to be back to kick off the season again. It’s a swell magnet this time of the year, and there’s usually more than one peak, which is fun for the heats. This is one of the most fun events every year, and it’s one the few female-only events we have. The sponsors are really supportive, and I’m happy to see it going forward and continuing this tradition for pro women. To warm up with only women is a cool feeling, and a lot of young girls come down to the event and are always excited to meet us—and it makes me really excited to see them! It’s so important to show girls at a young age that sports are for them, even if it’s not a career.
Her Favorite Spots to Hang When She’s in Oceanside
I’ve seen Oceanside change a lot over the past few years, there’s been so many renovations so it’s getting a lot more interesting. It’s like it’s been given a new face, and lately I’ve been finding all this amazing food here. The other day I went to Revolution Roasters, which is very cool inside and has lots of delicious stuff. I discovered Steel Mill Coffee has a great matcha.
I also love reptiles and snakes, so when I’m here I always go to LLL Reptile and Supply Co. It’s right off the beach, and they have every kind of reptile and snake and frog, species we don’t have in Hawaii that I’ve only ever seen in National Geographic. Sometimes the workers let me hold them, and it’s always really zen and calm for me. Some people get weirded out by reptiles, but I find them fascinating!
On Following Her Mom’s Example and Advocating for Women’s Surfing
In the last couple of years in general there’s been huge improvements in equal pay in the sport, and there were a number of women’s events that have been re-introduced in Hawaii after being gone for years. It feels like a renaissance period for women’s surfing, you can see a lot of momentum and inspiration in the community, and a lot of improvement for the women’s generation coming up. My mom is a surfer too, and she’s always shown me how important it is to stand up for what you believe in. It was cool to grow up watching her out there, standing up for other girls in Hawaii.
Stay in the center of the action by booking a room at Mission Pacific, and get a front row seat to watch Zoë and her inspiring fellow competitors compete for the Super Girl title.