Meet “Water Woman” Karen Monteagudo

📸 Photography by Femke Tewari

Hi Karen! The floor is yours — what role have you carved out for yourself in our community?

I am the founder of Water Women Collective Miami. I started it in June 2020 in the middle of the pandemic. It’s something I’d wanted to do for a while, to create a place where women feel safe and comfortable enjoying the Ocean.

Growing up, I always wanted to learn to surf, but there really weren’t any girls surfing then. I tried — I dated surfers, I worked at a surf shop — but never learned. At 34 years old, I finally went to my first all-women surf camp and I haven’t stopped since.

I’ve been surfing in Miami for almost 19 years. It wasn’t easy, as it was a boys club back when I started, but I managed alright — especially after I met my good friend and surf buddy Alison.

Fast forward to the present. I’d wished I had mentors in my surf journey, so I started the Collective. I wanted to build a community where women feel safe and encouraged to get out there. I got a few of the group members surfing for the first time and now they are hooked. We also have a group that snorkels and freedives.

Besides that, my real job that pays the bills is as a flight attendant for Delta for 29 years now.

What neighborhood(s) are you reppin’?

Miami Beach!

What brings you most alive about the 305?

The Ocean, of course.

What’s your favorite Miami memory?

Going out on the boat every summer weekend to Elliot Key with my family as a teenager and tying up with my parents’ friends.

If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I’d say the vegan mac and cheese from Love Life Cafe.

What does a perfect Miami day look like to you?

A perfect day of clean surf or great visibility for snorkeling at South Beach, followed by lunch or dinner with the ladies of the group.

What’s your favorite local social media account to follow and why?

@cleanthisbeachup and @sereiafilms — both are the initiatives of ladies in our snorkel/freedive group, and both are doing amazing work to help our oceans.

If you could give any one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?

Yes, we surf in Miami, and on a rare occasion it actually gets really good — that brings the pros down here.

How does Miami help you do what you do or influence your work?

My love for the Ocean inspires me to get as many people out there to enjoy her as well.

If there was one thing you could change, address, etc. about Miami, what would it be?

I wish beachgoers would pick up after themselves and not expect someone else to do it for them, and that they stopped using single-use plastic at the beach. Oh and stop releasing your balloons, they kill wildlife!

What are you looking forward to in 2023?

More fun times in the Ocean with the ladies of WWC.

That’s a wrap on this week’s Locals to Know. Know someone who ought to be featured or would like to be featured yourself? Reach out by sending an email to [email protected] with the subject line “TNT Locals to Know 2023.” If chosen, you might just see yourself or a friend in a future newsletter.