“More recently the sea is where I have called home… immersed in a different air, a different song. Now we are trading our ocean walls for long flows of deep green, our surf craft for a compass, our mermaid tails for legs that can push us through our mind’s capacity, challenging what is possible and giving us belief to run and run and run. This is where we all come from, forests and seas, we run to give them a voice and ensure their future isn’t on a truck heading towards a wood mill.”
For this chapter of our In Conversation series we talk to surfer, climate activist and Arnhem muse, Pacha Light.
A muse is someone who provides a source of inspiration, and for us Pacha is just that. We’ve been in awe of Pacha for years. A driven pro-surfer, sponsored by Billabong from such a young age, we watched her rise through the ranks of the qualifying series on the WSL women’s world tour. But it’s her dedication to protecting Mother Earth through positive climate action and activism, and bringing joy and opportunity to young female surfers that moves us. Her recent departure from Billabong in pursuit of what sets her soul on fire – purpose over profit - was quite extraordinary.
Below we introduce you to Pacha and talk living life off the grid, environmental activism and philosophy, and hook into some uplifting tunes to brighten your day….
Pacha, please introduce yourself…
Hi! My name is Pacha and I'm a 20-year-old pro surfer and earth lover currently traveling carbon neutral around Australia in a Troopy with my partner Nash and pup Taka.
I was born in the cloud forest of Ecuador and grew up surrounded by nature, campaigning with my environmental activist parents all over the world. Once we settled down in Australia when I was 5, we pretty much lived at the beach, but it wasn’t until I was 10 when my brother and I discovered surfing.
We spent a lot of our time in both wild secluded beach breaks and crowded points, training hard for contests. I competed full time for 3 years on the World Qualifying Series- juggling events, traveling, shooting, and doing my best for the planet. During Covid I had the opportunity to reflect on those years and take a look at what made me truly happy… It was surfing for joy and connection and advocating as much as I could for the planet. So here I am following my heart and doing what I believe in.
Tell us, what a typical day currently looks like for you?
On the road, Nash and I will wake up and jump out of the Troopy pretty much right on the beach and head out for some waves. It’s also very important to research and learn about the Aboriginal land and tribe we are staying on so either before we sleep or before we paddle out, we ask permission and pay our respects.
If the surf isn’t good, we go for a run along the beach or check out hikes in the local area. We are pretty dependable on the weather so if it's sunny we will find new adventures all day! We try to be as self-sufficient as we can, catching our own food and running on solar power means we can go off-grid for weeks at a time, living with our little family in the home on wheels... It’s one of the things I'm most grateful for.
Not many people know that I…
Love to sing and play the ukulele! I travelled with a Uke all around the world and would sing, behind closed doors. I'm slowly gaining confidence but it’s something I love to do.
Living off the grid has taught me…
Living off grid has given me a sense of empowerment and taught me from a young age that everything you need is already with you, comfort is relative. Nowadays it makes me feel connected and involved with every step of life, being responsible for everything you consume and also waste… I've always been inspired by Indigenous communities and their connection with the land, learning these ways of living to tread lightly on the planet.
Do you have a memory, or specific moment that was the catalyst for wanting to dedicate your life to environmental activism?
Both my parents are environmental activists so I was brought up with this thinking, I was even named after the Quechua goddess, Pachamama, translating into Mother Earth, so it has always been a big part of me but I don't think I really understood my responsibility and my own relationship with the earth and activism until I saw how surfing connected people from every background to advocate for a cause, especially if it impacted their local beaches. I’m inspired by so many and just want to bring hope and motivation as it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with our current trajectory.
Recently Nash and I got to be a part of a campaign to protect old growth forests in Lutruwita/Tasmania from logging and mining threats by running a half marathon through the heart of the Takayna/Tarkine forest, organised by The Bob Brown Foundation. We hadn’t run that far before but were encouraged to join the Surfers For Climate crew, an organisation committed to uniting surfers to stand up for environmental threats… Reaffirming that it just made sense to protect places that you love, that’s including forests- not just oceans!
How has the environmental philosophy of deep ecology shaped your thoughts, behaviours and actions?
Inspired by generations of first nation peoples, the understanding that everything is sacred and connected, that our earth is a mother providing and we must take care of her. I think it created a stronger, more beautiful relationship with the planet and motivated me to do as much as I can. It also gave me a sense of belonging, no matter if I was riding a wave or walking through a forest… This is our ancient home filled with sacred knowledge.
Laura Enever gave you your first surfboard when you were busking, how did this moment change your life? And is this why you continue to pay the kindness forwards by supporting other young female surfers?
To be introduced to the surfing world with her pure generosity is still something I can't quite believe. She continues to support me and be an inspiration to so many… I’ll always be grateful. I always think back to that moment and try my best to do this wherever I go, whether it’s donating preloved boards to Boardrider’s clubs or to girls just beginning to surf, it’s all about finding that love in the ocean and I know how special it is because that's how it began for me.
What are some of the most valuable lessons that surfing taught you?
Surfing and the ocean has given me everything and more… Surrounded by the beautifully powerful and unpredictable, this is where you can feel out who you are. I’ve learnt how to be strong and vulnerable, washing away fears and ego to be open to the greatest gifts from the sea. Surfing has really solidified this love for nature and allowed me to find like-minded people. Surfing is so much more than a sport… It’s pure magic.
The five songs everyone should listen to right now for good vibes are…
Being on the road means you need a good playlist and although Nash and I are on the constant look out for more pre surf psych ups, here is our favourites;
4real by Steve Lacy
Yègelleé Tezeta by Mulatu Astatke
Be Thankful For What You Got by Love
Cumulous Potion (For the Clouds to Sing) by Salami Rose Joe Louis
Disco by Surf Curse
This year I’m manifesting…
For growth, learnings and connections within lands, waters, communities and ourselves. I hope to help meaningful, positive initiatives for the planet and people.
I wish for a shift of thinking of the global top 1% leaders and corporations to take action on climate change… But we have to do more than wish! We can be that change by doing what we can.
Lot’s of love and thank you so much for everything!
Follow Pacha's journey...
You Tube Pacha Light
Pacha styled her favourite pieces from our Nomada Collection.