Surfer Casey Kwiecinski in her happy place.
Casey Kwiecinski and her sister Jessica take twinning to a whole new level. The sisters are taking the surf world by storm, setting off from their hometown of — wait for it — Bradley Beach, New Jersey, to hit up beaches with wild waves the world over. While they're making a conscious decision to skip the competitions and follow their bliss in other directions, the two are still on the radar of the powers that be of the surf world. With mojo like this, they're hard to ignore.
We chatted with Casey about the best and worst parts of surfing on the road, beautiful beaches, and hailing from a state more famous for Springsteen than surfers.
BIKINI: How did the surfing bug bite you?
CASEY KWIECINSKI: We got into surfing when we were about 13, Jessica just woke up one day and was like "I wanna learn how to surf" and she took some lessons and fell in love with it. I followed shortly after because I got bored of sitting on the beach watching. We both grew to love the sport simply because we loved being in the ocean. We weren't that close before we started surfing, and it brought us together and gave us a common ground, where we were able to become best friends. We spent hours in the water just laughing and having fun. We were always trying to be better than each other which I think is what helped us progress faster.
BIKINI: New Jersey isn't exactly a surf hot spot — do you have to do a lot of explaining to do when you're out in the heats?
CASEY KWIECINSKI: Everywhere we travel, people give us the strangest looks when we say we're from New Jersey. It's kind of funny because contrary to popular belief, New Jersey gets really good waves! It's just not as consistent as most places and it's cold most of the year. That being said — we've traveled all over the world and we both would agree that it's one of the best places on Earth. We're obsessed with the Northeast in general and if it was more consistent we'd never leave!
BIKINI: Where are the most gorgeous waves you've ever surfed? Do you have a favorite beach?
CASEY KWIECINSKI: The most gorgeous country we've been to is Peru. We can't even put into words how much we love it there. The people, the waves, and the atmosphere is just incredible. As far as the most gorgeous waves though we have to say anywhere in the Caribbean takes the win! Crystal clear water, warm temperatures, and a huge variety in types of waves those islands offer. It's the kind of place you paddle out for an hour and end up staying in all day!
BIKINI: What's your favorite part of traveling to chase the waves? Least fave?
CASEY KWIECINSKI: We love getting lost and stranded in random, unknown places. It sounds crazy but we feel like that's when you have the most fun. It allows you to stop relying on technology and start relying on yourselves and the people around you. We've made endless friendships through traveling, and that's hands down the best part. It's funny how you can spend a day, a week, or even just a car ride with a stranger and learn more about them in that short amount of time than you know about some of your best friends you've known forever. We just love real conversation with strangers all around the world. We don't really have a least favorite part of traveling. It's hard to put into words, but even when you're stranded on a curb in a not-so-safe country after taking a bus with all of your surfboards, broken down on the side of the road at 2 a.m. after being chased by a gang earlier that day, or lying in bed in the middle of the night as people are trying to break in to your room on a deserted island, you always learn something. Wisdom comes with experience, and we try to make the best out of every situation, because chances are we're the ones who got ourselves into it. It's all part of the adventure.
BIKINI: Aside from surfing, what do you love to do for fun?
CASEY KWIECINSKI: Aside from surfing we love to run. It's always been a passion of ours.
BIKINI: Where do you see yourself in five years?
CASEY KWIECINSKI: We used to compete a lot nationally and internationally. We've tried the whole WQS tour, and we will always have that competitive edge. Unfortunately, it costs a lot of money to travel somewhere just to surf a few 20 minute heats and maybe win enough money to pay for your flight home. We came to a point where we realized we were letting results define us, and we were beating ourselves up because of it. We were traveling to all of these incredible places and never leaving the contest site. In the midst of this, we still had an urge in the back of our minds to see and do more. One morning, Jess and I were chatting over some coffee before our heats and we were laughing, not a care in the world about the importance of the 20 minute heats we had coming up, and out of nowhere Jess just looked at me and said "Hey, if we both get out in this round, we can go explore that wave around the corner we heard about." And that's when we realized our heads weren't in it [the competing] anymore.
At that moment, it seemed more glamorous to lose that round and break free to adventure than it did to win the entire event. So I guess our five-year plan is to just see and do more. Enjoy moments and places. We want to go off the beaten path, surf empty waves in the middle of nowhere, get lost, and enjoy both the good and bad times that come along with it.
BIKINI: What's on the agenda for 2017?
CASEY KWIECINSKI: We started a thought process called BYOB, standing for Be Your Own Brand. An idea to just be yourself and not let the industry or society try to mold you into somebody that you're not. We started a blog with disposable camera sets of pure moments rather then posed photos. We are also trying to mold it into a brand where travelers can buy and sell product from around the world. Not sure if it'll ever reach that point or not, but for 2017, we just want to see what we can do with it.
BIKINI: What's the most misunderstood thing about the life of a surfer?
CASEY KWIECINSKI: The most misunderstood thing about life of a surfer is that it's always glamorous. There's a lot of things that can — and will — go wrong in between catching incredible waves in a bikini on a beautiful island. Chances are to post that beautiful photo of you surfing crystal clear water on Instagram, you had to walk three miles in midday heat up a hill into town to get enough service because your beaten-down apartment with a roof that only leaks sometimes doesn't have enough signal. We give up a lot of everyday luxuries such as wifi, AC, TV, a car, a bed, and sometimes even your own safety to get to do what we do. That being said, we wouldn't trade it for the world.