Cal West
peter-surf-pic (2)

I was born in Atlantic City in 1951. My family and ‘ancestors’ all had what my dad called “sand
in their shoes” – they loved the ocean and beach and spent as much time as possible there.
My surfing life began in the late fifties. My grandparents had a house in Margate and we all
looked forward to our holidays there because the beach was right across the street. At the
time the big thing were these blow-up canvas rafts, which we would inflate to capacity and try
to ride in standing up. During the summer of my early high school years “Scriptures” in
Longport was the happening spot. Just beyond the causeway linking the barrier islands, Ocean
City always called to me, and I migrated there full time becoming a member of the original
crew of baby-boomer surfers. Summers in Ocean City were like adolescent live theater. The
weather and water grew warm, and hordes of families (and their daughters) hit the beach and
boardwalk. Surf characters and personalities would travel up and down the East Coast looking
for a new audience and good times. In 1968 the Holmsey Surf Team came up from Boca Raton,
Florida and rocked our world with the Sidewinder, a crazy nose-riding specialty board. The
Holmsey team also helped usher in a new era with their psychedelic artwork and music. They
hauled a huge suitcase full of bulk marijuana and “turned on the town”. The ‘Summer of Love’
was in full swing now and I begin to perceive that surfing aligned itself with the counterculture
much more compatibly than with the high school football team/cheerleader culture! That
summer we all grew peach-fuzz sideburns, beards, and mustaches.

I got a job on the boardwalk in Ocean City’s first head shop called the Birdcage. The crazy-busy
store sold heaps of incense, black light posters, candles, music, and hippie clothing. I was on
the surf team of the ‘Hole in the Wall Surf Shop’ which sold wax and Holmsey boards. We had
friendly rivalries with long established Surfers Supplies. Everyone got along those days; life was
a fresh new adventure every day. Some of the guys started a surf band and I played the
‘Theme to the Endless Summer’ on my trumpet, earning me the moniker “Lips Lewis”. I
graduated from Mainland Regional High in 1969. My first year of college was at Glassboro
State in northern New Jersey. I lived inland and hated it. This was back when all the campus
unrest, protests, and violence were the rule of the day. Universities across the country closed
for a period of cooling off, rallies, and love-ins. I hitch-hiked back to Ocean City where I stayed
in the back of the surf shop and surfed every day. Our surf team took a spring break trip to San
Diego and it was here that I began to realize that I would never be happy living away from the
beach. We discovered Cal Western University, located on the bluffs of Sunset Cliffs,
overlooking a wave-field of perfect reef breaks. I talked my dad into letting me transfer. It was
Nirvana; surf, study, surf, surf. California expanded my vision of living a surfing life. On school
breaks we would drive all night down to mainland Mexico. Spinada wine, Neil young songs by
the fire pit after surfing all day – those were the days! After graduation I had to face the Real
World. I wanted to stay in California and had to finding my destiny. The door of opportunity
pointed me to the restaurant business. I became a manager with the Chart House, a hip,
upscale waterfront steak house chain founded and run by surfers. Over my fifteen years with
Chart House I worked in most of the San Diego restaurants and also spent a year in the
beautiful Lahaina Maui location. My wife Emily and I agreed to move to Miami Florida and
hated it!

We would take day trips up the coast and discover laid back beach towns with fun uncrowded
surf and we ultimately moved to Melbourne Beach where we raised our daughter and lived for
22 years. I decided it was time to look beyond the crazy restaurant business and found a niche
working with kids in recreations programs. A parent of one of our kids introduced himself and
said he owned Surf Express Travel Company which arranged surf trips to exotic locations. I
enthusiastically accepted his job offer and embarked on a ten year stint booking surf trips.
Our #1 destination was Costa Rica, and a perk of the business was free travel, rental car, and
hotels. I travelled up and down the coast in search of new breaks and lodging options. In 1994
Emily and I discovered Nosara, on the Pacific Northwest coast. Nosara is a cool progressive
town that protects its 15 mile beachfront by zoning it all as a nature/wildlife preserve. The
town has wonderful wide white beaches, amazing surf, and has emerged as a worldwide surf
and yoga Mecca. We sold everything and moved to Nosara in 2007 “looking for the seventies”.
We enjoy the small town country life. I work for Safari Surf School and she sells cakes to local

I have surfed continually for 50 years non-stop.

I think maybe Monk is the only other guy who did the same. He still surfs better than ever.
My only ‘down time’ came in this last year when my knee gave out rendering me immobile
and dry-docked. I had a full knee replacement in September, and am on the mend as I write
this. The surf is still calling and it won’t be long now…..