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Dawn Pier, East Cape Amiga

Hi readers. My name is Dawn Pier and I live in Boca de las Vinoramas on the East Cape. I’m a writer, surfer, environmentalist, biologist, yogini and construction project manager, to name a few of the hats I wear. Baja has turned me into somewhat of a generalist, out of necessity.

Before moving here in 2002, I obtained both my Bachelors and Masters degrees in biology from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. I worked for a decade as a research scientist conducting field work in the Canadian arctic to study the impact of military radar stations on the local environment. It was an amazing job that allowed me to travel to regions on the planet that few people will ever see.

Most of the people I meet down here want to know how a woman from Ontario, Canada ended up surfing in Baja. Until the year 2000, surfing wasn’t even on my radar. I was newly separated from my husband of seven years. He got the house, the car, the furniture and two Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs. I got the credit card debt and the associated airmiles. After ten summers spent North of 60, I was ready for some sun, so I put the airmiles to good use and flew to Costa Rica for the How Dawn Got Her Groove Back vacation.

It was while sunbathing on a Costa Rican beach one day during that vacation that I entered the calm waters of the Pacific Ocean to cool off. After bobbing about in the tranquil waters for a few minutes, I turned to get out and was suddenly grabbed by a rogue wave, thrown on the bottom, picked up again by another wave, slammed onto the sandy bottom and then released. My head reeled as I tried to regain my footing. As I stood up I realized to my embarrassment that my bikini bottoms were well South of where they ought to be as I faced a beach riddled with bathers. I yanked them up only to discover they were loaded with sand. Weaving my way out of the water and back up the beach, I dispatched the sand in handfuls, like so many rose petals.

Back at the safety of my towel I tried to catch my breath and felt my heart thumping wildly in my chest. I looked hard at the ocean, searching for some indication of what had set it off. As I regained my composure, I sensed that my whole body was energized! I felt more alive than I had in years. Because of that experience I became determined to learn to surf.

A plan was hatched: I would move to Costa Rica and live on the beach like the surfers I’d seen in my travels. I’d teach myself to surf until my money ran out and, in the meantime, I fantasized, someone would happen along and offer me a job. Yeah, I had it all figured out.

But before the Costa Rican plan could be executed, I took a trip to Baja California Sur with my sister – our goal was to get our SCUBA certification and I gave surfing a try. Fate and an Outside magazine article brought us to Cabo Pulmo for our dive course, where on the second day, our dive instructor suggested I move to Cabo Pulmo. He said, “Why do you want to move to Costa Rica? There are already so many volunteers there. They don’t need you, but we do. Why don’t you come here and be the scientific director of my new conservation foundation?” A job offer with a fancy title sounded much more promising than moving to a Costa Rican beach with nothing more than high hopes.

In March 2002, I arrived in Cabo Pulmo and after a false start that had to do with the “foundation” being less than legit, I began working as a community liaison for efforts to protect Cabo Pulmo National Park, which at the time had no infrastructure or formal management of any type. Eventually, a group of community members and I founded Amigos para la Conservacion de Cabo Pulmo, A.C. and I worked as it’s director for three years.

My current focus is writing. In addition to being a contributor on, I maintain a personal blog and I am working on a memoir detailing my adventures while I lived in Cabo Pulmo. I’ve also picked up a few more hats – my Spanish improved sufficiently that I began helping other foreigners with translation services and construction project management.

I surf most days and recently took up kitesurfing so I can get out and enjoy the sea when the winds blow. The rest of my time is spent maintaining the large property I live on and hanging with our pack of six dogs. I look forward to sharing my love of the East Cape of Baja with you in future blog posts here on and to hearing your feedback in the comments section.


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  1. Helena Poll says:

    Congrats on your first official post at! What a great story about how you got interested in surfing…I nearly snorted my tea all over my computer screen when I read it. Sorry it took me so long to come here and read it…I’m doing some “Catching up on Dawn” this week.

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