First We Surf Then We Eat – Recipes from a lifetime of surf travel

A cookbook mixed with tales of far-flung surf adventure, seasoned with personal stories, and garnished with local characters, charms, and nuances. This is a wonderful book. A collector’s item that would make the absolute PERFECT gift to any avid surfer, traveler or foodie.



What a book! More than just recipes, First We Surf, Then We Eat: Recipes From a Lifetime of Surf Travelchronicles an amazing life. We received a digital copy to review while sailing across the Pacific Ocean. It was passed around the iPad over many a tantalizing discussion that always ended “if only we could get the ingredients!”. Our appreciation of this book didn’t just stop at the recipes, we were learning even about our own surfboards. For we even had a surfboard by legendary Hawaiian shaper Donald Takayama onboard our boat. Little did we know he was also a famed cook, for his Grilled Fish & Vegetable Packet with Donald Takayama’s Teriyaki Sauce features on page 70.


First We Surf And Then We Eat is written by a bit of an old school surfing legend, Jim Kempton. His absolute stoke for surfing comes across every page. Jim was the editor and publisher of Surfer Magazine, the Director of Quiksilver’s Crossing Project which searched the world for the best surf breaks (lucky f**ker!), and also if that is not enough, he was also the Director of Media for Billabong and owner of a former award-winning regional Mexican restaurant in San Clemente, called Margerita’s Village. Jim has seen and tasted a lot in his time and this book is a testament to a lifetime of surf travel and culinary exploration.


Recipes from First We Surf Then We Eat
The food of the tropics.
Image courtesy of First We Surf Then We Eat


It reads like a nostalgic memoir of perfect waves gone by, coupled with the lifelong lingering aroma of delicious post-surf meals. From Tahiti to Hawaii, the Basque Country to Indonesia, California to Mexico, Peru to Morocco, First We Surf And Then We Eat literally takes you on a world tour of the best waves and the dishes of their best restaurants.


Pipeline surf at sunset
Pipeline at sunset.
Photo Jeff Divine courtesy of First We Surf Then We Eat
Spain boats harbour
Recipes from Spain.
Photo Jeff Divine courtesy of First We Surf Then We Eat


Nothing will make you want to surf Nicaragua’s beach breaks like drawling over the Nicaraguan Macuá Cocktail – an award-winning drink named after an elusive tropical forest bird with magical properties that attract women! Or try your hand at Morocco’s right-hand points after a perfect Killer Seven-Vegetable Tagine. As we were sailing through the South Pacific at the time, we were delighted to find the same ingredients mentioned throughout the Guam, Tahiti and The Pacific Section. With a whole stack of bananas we picked from a tree all going ripe at once, we devoured the banana bread recipe from Tavarua Surf Camp on several occasions and enjoyed following both the Sashimi Française and Ono Poke Bowl recipe to try a different way to enjoy all the fresh yellow-fin tuna we were catching. We salivated most over any recipe that contained salad or avocado as fresh vegetables were a prized possession when at sea (Mexican Avocadoes Stuffed With Jumbo Shimp anyone?).


Oh and how stoked were we to see Bethany Hamilton featured in the book! Jim is a friend of her dad’s and shared her favourite Papaya Nut Smoothie AND acai smoothie in the book. Like Bethany and pro kiteboarder Sensi Graves who shared her favorite cherry chocolate smoothie recipe with us, we also LOVE smoothies!

Bethany Hamilton smoothie recipe
Bethany Hamilton’s smoothie recipes


This is definitely a book that you want to own on hardback (only $20 on Amazon) and keep on your coffee table or on display in your kitchen. With so many informative surf stories, wonderful photography, and recipes that range from Moroccan mint tea to Mexican Caesar salad dressing, there is a lifetime of enjoyment in this wonderful book. It’s would make an incredible gift to any surf fan with a love of travel and a bit of adventure in the kitchen.

First we surf then we eat - cookbook


Jim, thank you! This is truly one of our favourite surf cookbooks and travel books!



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Hiya, I'm Alexa. Always on some sort of adventure! I'm excited to share my stories & introduce you to other rad women, also living the dream. I'm here to inspire you to do the same :-)


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