Lisa Muir Wakley

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One of the great legends of women’s surfing, Lisa Muir Wakley, also known as “Longboard Lisa,” got her start surfing as a teen on Puerto Rico’s beaches. Her Caribbean waveriding was just the beginning. In 1973, she moved to the Pensacola area of Florida’s Gulf Coast, a move that would make Navarre Beach her lifelong homebreak — the place she would come back to after a long stint as a competitive traveling surfer. 

Muir Wakley recalled those early surfing days, when she first felt a desire to compete, even with the boys. “I was somewhat serious about it when I first graduated from high school. I think it’s because I was in that period of women’s lib, and if a guy can do it a girl can do it,” she said. “I remember being ditched because the waves were either too big, or the guys didn’t want this girl coming along. And I can remember a surf trip in particular where it was no girls; it was all guys heading down to Mexico. And it broke my heart when I was told it was an all-guys trip.”

Muir Wakley went on a decades-long contest streak that took her from Corpus Christi to Cape Hatteras and beyond, including a 10-year stint through Hawaii in the mid-1970s and 80s. After more than 30 years of competitive surfing, she took the gold at Cocoa Beach’s Wahine Spring Classic, a career highlight for her. 

She has spent the past 20 years surfing the turquoise waters around Pensacola and still competes in senior events. She also offers surfing lessons at Navarre Beach, a spot she calls “Florida’s best-kept secret” when it comes to surfing. 

Muir Wakley was inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame in 2002 for her role in putting women’s surfing on the map. “I love to help women’s surfing,” she said in response to her induction.

Photos by Lance Trout and courtesy Lisa Muir Wakely