Bonilla Bishop rides wave of success in Mexico
By Sue Tiffin
Published Nov. 26, 2019
While most Haliburton County residents are busy plowing out their driveways or bundling up in layers of winter gear, 14-year-old Moana Luna Bonilla Bishop is working her way toward her dream of becoming a professional surfer. With two wins at the Mexican National Surfing Games held at the beginning of this month, she’s well on her way.
Moana Luna travels back and forth between Eagle Lake in Haliburton County and Southern Baja, Mexico throughout the year with her parents, Holly Bishop and Pablo Bonilla, and sisters Coral and Kali.
“My dad is a surfer,” wrote Moana Luna in an email to the Echo of Pablo, who recently won his fifth Mexican National Longboard Surf Championship. “When we are in Mexico, we live at the beach so it was normal that I was in the ocean every day. My whole family surf together.”
Moana Luna’s family lives in a motorhome on the beach next to what Moana Luna described as a “nice surf break,” where her dad is a surf coach (in Haliburton he teaches swim lessons in West Guilford) and her mom operates Gypsea’s Lifestyle Boutique. They travel to different beaches at different times of the year, Moana Luna wrote, “depending on the swells.”
“Ever since I was a toddler I would be surfing with my dad on his board and playing on my own,” she said. “As I’ve gotten older, I just started getting into it more and more, and made more friends that surf. It makes it more fun in the water with friends.”
Moana Luna said she loves living at the beach, and said life in Mexico is a fun experience for her.
“When I’m in Mexico I usually wake up and go surf, then do some school work and go surf again,” she told the Echo. “Some evenings we have Jujitsu or dance or pottery classes, then we usually have dinner and a fire, I play the ukulele and go to bed. The weekends are the only days my friends don’t go to school so we are usually in the ocean all day.”
Moana Luna said that her entry in local surf contests led to a spot on the state surf team, and then an invitation to the Mexican National Surfing Games held Nov. 1 to 9 in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. Having the chance to compete on a different beach alongside girls her own age who surf was exciting, as was the opportunity to further work toward her goal of becoming a professional surfer.
“It was super important to me that I got chosen to go to the contest because if I do good I could secure my spot for the World Games of Surfing, the PanAm Surfing Games and that could take me to the Olympics, and on the path of becoming a professional surfer,” she wrote.
Moana Luna said during competitions, she surfed different waves in heats with only three other people in the water at the same time, making friends throughout the event, which she appreciated, and also placed – taking second place in the girls under 16 shortboard division and third place in the girls under 14 shortboard division. She also made it to the semi-finals for women’s open longboard.
Because Moana Luna earned a spot in the finals in the nationals, she qualifies for the World Surfing Games in 2020, and also to a qualifying contest for the Olympics. She said she was also invited to Mexi Log Fest, an invitational longboard contest happening next spring in Punta Mita.
“I am doing many little contests to keep my competitive skills sharp,” she said.
As she works toward her goal, Moana Luna enjoys the life she is living in the water.
“Every time I go surfing it’s different, but I mostly feel relaxed and very happy, just being in the ocean makes me happy,” she said. “I can’t really explain what it’s like, it’s like nothing else. It’s surfing.”