Peter Melhado: Founder Isla Surf School

Isla Surf School Founded: 2015

Why Did You Start Isla? I started working for surf schools when I was 15 and fell in love with sharing the joy of surfing. I spent my summers during high school and college as an instructor for Nantucket Surfari and when I graduated from the College of Charleston in 2014 I headed down to Costa Rica for four months to be a surf instructor in the town of Santa Teresa. When I returned to the US, I worked for Locals Surf School in Rockaway, New York. 

I had been a surf instructor for many years by the time it was 2015 and felt extremely confident in my abilities as a teacher and coach and decided it was time to open my own school. I had seen the best of the best and the worst of the worst in terms of surf schools on the East Coast and throughout the world and because of this I had a very clear vision for Isla. I wanted Isla to provide the highest quality lessons in a professional and fun atmosphere.

Goals? I intend to keep growing Isla through our many unique programs and partnerships while maintaining the personal touch that we have with our small camps, 3:1 client-to-instructor ratio, professional instruction, and our fun and professional atmosphere. I also plan on continuing our support and partnership with The Warrior Surf Foundation. We have had the pleasure of working alongside these veterans since the spring of 2017. The more Isla grows, the more we are able to give back to our community and to partner with like minded foundations who look to better lives through surfing. 

What Do You Love About Surfing? There so many things to love. Every wave you catch is one of a kind. You may catch similar waves in your lifetime, but you will never get two identical waves. I think thats pretty special. There so many lessons to take out of surfing. You have to be dedicated, passionate, patient, and willing to take risks to build a solid foundation. Your not going to get good overnight. I think one of the best feelings in the world is driving through the night with your friends chasing a swell up or down the east coast and arriving/waking up at sunrise in a different state to perfect peeling waves. No matter how tired you are from traveling, you’re going to surf all day long. I’m not sure how many other sports or activities stir that type of passion and excitement.

Favorite Part of Running A Surf School? I love meeting people from all walks of life. Everyday we have locals, midwesterners, Europeans, and people from all around the US and globe. Our tent and boards become a melting pot of nationalities, ethnicities, and ideologies. As corny as that sounds we really do work with every type of person imaginable. I love hearing their stories and most of all getting them to ride their first waves. There’s no better feeling than watching a client get hooked after their first real ride to the beach. 

Funniest Thing You’ve Seen? I’ve taught a few groups that have showed up with speedos and goggles. It’s always pretty funny to see, but whatever floats your boat, as long as you’re having fun. 

Favorite Breaks: Dogman’s, Janitors Junction, Ericeira, Road-G, Coopers, Camelots, Rockaway.