In 2007, Ishita Malaviya tried surfing for the first time and fell in love with the sport. She founded the Shaka Surf Club
in Kodi Bengre, India, with boyfriend and fellow surfer Tushar Pathiyan in the same year.
"We couldn’t imagine moving back to the city, doing a 9-to-5 job and being unable to surf every day," Malaviya, who was previously living in Manipal, India,
told Refinery29 in an email. "We wanted to live the surfer’s dream."
Since then, the couple has made the club their second home and imbued countless students of all ages with their love of surfing. As for Malaviya, she's undeniably a trailblazer in a very male-dominated sport, which is still pretty new to India.
"For the longest time, I was the only woman out in [the] water,"
she said. "It was definitely intimidating for me at the start."
As India's first professional female surfer, Malaviya has made it her personal mission to get young girls from the surrounding villages "stoked" about surfing.
"The ocean is mostly considered a place for the men," she explained. "The women stay at home while the fishermen go out to sea...I feel so blessed to be able to share the joys of being in the ocean with my fellow womenfolk."
To get a closer look at all of the cool things Malaviya and the girls of the Shaka Surf Club are doing, we sent a photographer to Kodi Bengre to capture them in action. Click through to see the photos and read more from Malaviya.