About Suzanne van der Veeken

About Me

Hi! My name is Suzanne. During my 10 years of adventuring around the world there has been one constant: the calling of the ocean. In, at or near the sea I’m the best version of myself. I freedive into the deep, hitchsail across oceans, and play around with my kite and board. The ocean gives me my play, my life. I feel more responsible and motivated than ever to bring life back into the ocean. Cause the ocean are dying. The time to do something is NOW!

My ocean explorations have taught me about the magnitude of the challenges our oceans are facing. And its urgency! There is no time for ignorance any more.  The ocean gets emptied, trashed, polluted and acid because of our behaviour. Shark population are being wiped out. Tuna is being eaten like there is no tomorrow. And human population is approaching the 8 billion mark. It’s just not sustainable. I cannot force people to change. But I can encourage, inspire, and inform. Hopefully that broadens some horizons and trigger for positive change. Cause we all need to team up to keep our playground, our life, our ocean, alive!

My Oceanpreneurial journey

1986 Born as an aquarius in a happy middle class Dutch family.

1989 I am put in swimming class. I swam the full squares, not circels.

1991 I fell in love with dolphins. At the dolphinarium.

1991 – 2001 I voted destination “ocean” for the family holidays. Most times, I won the case. Further I play full time tennis.

2001 We go big on the family trip: to the red sea. Hello colourful lively underwaterworld! And dolphins in real life! The internet arrives at our home. I learn myself how to make html websites with frontpage.

2003 I finish highschool. I have my very first sailing experience: a booze cruise in Costa Brava ;). I quit tennis.

2004 I want to go out and explore the world. Everyone says that would be a stupid thing to do. And I (still) listen. Last minute I sign up for a study called ‘Leisure Studies.’

2005 I decide to never listen again. I cannot study leisure, I have to experience it. I quit the study. I’m off exploring the world. I go snowboarding, tourguiding & bartending in the alps for the winter. I’m in a 6 month flow state.

2006 I continue the flow to the ocean, organizing activities at a surfcamp at the French Atlantic Coast. I learn how to surf. I love the watersports, the tribe vibe, and leading the groups in different adventures at the Atlantic coast.

2007 I sign up for studying Commerce. I guess it’ll be useful at some point. But now I see I just did what society expected me to do. I don’t feel like i’m learning a lot. That’s ok. It gives me time to earn money for surf and snowboard trips. I work as a waitress, bartender, flowermaker, tanningconsultant, car counter, and mascotte in a themepark. I don’t enjoy any of this. But it raises the adventurefund. The one thing that stayed with me from that study is a professor who said it’s important to find your PASSION. I have no idea what my passion is.

2008 I learn Scubadiving in Holland with a 2 times 7 mm wetsuit.I cannot wait to explore waters with more than 2m visibility. With the studies I have to do an internship. So I google tropical islands with watersport potential. I find out about Mauritius, and a local touroperator that does adventure trips. The welcome me on board. I spend 6 months in Mauritus. It’s the first time I see whales. Every day before ‘work’ I snorkel to the reef. I learn how to kitesurf. I get fascinated by Island culture. And I get to hop on a sailing boat a few times. This year is hard to beat!

2009 I realize my english sucks. So for internship number 2 I look for an adventure in Australia/New Zealand. I get offered a well paid internship in NewZealand helping out with running events. I decline. I was very determined to find something in the adventure and watersports industry. I find that in Australia.

2010 In Australia I get stationed at the Brisbane river. I have to spent fixed hours in an office. I decide to never sign up for that again. Sometimes I take people on kayaktrips. That was fun. I move myself to the sistercompany on Moreton Island where I can snorkel with sharks and kitesurf. And finish that damn thesis. I finish the thesis and have my first hitchsailing experience at the Coast of Queensland. I graduate from commerce but feel like I haven’t learned a thing.

2011 I sign up for a practical master in Tourism Destination Management. I’m in a class with 15 different nationalities and together we go on an adventure to South East Asia and Australia, to practice ‘field work assignments’. I learned loads, especially around people and perspectives. Wise words from a professor that have always stayed with me: perception = reality. Everyone sees the world in a different way. I find out about the Pacific Tourism – Climate Adaptation Project. I’m determined to somehow get involved. I investigate the whole thing and propose a case-study in Tonga, which is an important port for sailing and swimming with whales. They accept my proposal and fund my research. This year is hard to beat!

2012 I want to discover the Spanish speaking world. In Peru I seem to last the longest with the money I have. I volunteer for a community-based tourism project in the Andes in exhange for housing and too much peruvian food. With the landlord not speaking English I learned Spanish in no time. The ocean keeps calling. I go kitesurfing in the Coast of Peru and Ecuador. I lasted 10 months with 2000 euro, living local style. I reach the point of not having money for a cafe con leche. Good to experience. But time to make a change.

2013 I join a start-up team with whom I can work from anywhere. I speak Spanish now so let’s go to Spain. I want to kitesurf like a pro. I book a one-way ticket to Tarifa, a place I remembered from years back. I like it there. There is some like-minded outdoorsy ‘outcast’ there and I can easily live relaxed with less than 1000 euro’s/month. The start up funds a trip to worlds largest tourism fair ITB. Here I connect with travelbloggers. I figure it’s time to start my own travelblog, which is not only to keep the family posted but to encourage people to travel with a positive impact. Together with my Tarifa partner in crime, I set up a poffertjes business, selling Dutch delicacies on the beach. The spanish don’t even want it when we offer it for free. Every day I come up with a new business idea. The execution remains terrible.

2014 I spend the winter at a friends place in Bali. Here I can last long with little money. Let’s try to develop the travelblog into a business. For my birthday she gave me a freedive course. I learn how to freedive. And LOVE it. I also go on a trip to Flores where I go local, help the locals promote their businesses in exchange for the most wonderful experiences. The underwaterworld is the most amazing I have ever seen. After Bali I go back to Tarifa. A place that feels like home. I want to bring more ‘my kind of breed’ together and organize a coworking – kitesurf event in Tarifa as ‘Flaks’. No big money business but inspirational for sure! I learn how to teach kitesurfing. Winter is approaching, I don’t have a house, fixed job or boyfriends, now is the time to pursue the dream of crossing the Atlantic Ocean!

2015 With no budget nor sailing experience, I sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. And back. To make it confusing, I started another blog for that: oceanXploration. I become a freedive instructor. I organized Kitesurfing & Sailing trip for 18 people in Ionion Sea Greece. And set up 6 more weeks of coworking and kitesurfing for waterlusted freelancers and entrepreneurs. My Tonga research gets published.

2016 I found my passion. It’s the ocean. The ocean gives me everything. It’s my playground. But just having fun is not enough. We have to give back and save it from collapsing. I also realize that how I perceive the ocean and its importance is not how others perceive it. Through my book, social media buzz, blogging, projects upcoming expeditions I hope to inspire and encourage for action for the ocean. A new oceanleader has born. I continue the journey as The Oceanpreneur.

What’s next? Launching expedition bizz ‘The Inspirates’ bringing together bold, courageous, game-changing entrepreneurial adventure people who are determined to make a positive change.


2010 Queensland 350 NM
2011 Vava,u, Tonga 50 NM
2014 Canary Islands hopping 500 NM
2015 Canary Islands – Cape Verde 850 NM
2015 Atlantic crossing 1: Cape Verde – Tobago 2800NM
2015 Atlantic crossing 2: Antigua – Azores 3300NM
2015 Malaysia – Thailand 500NM
2016 Indonesian Jukung boat 5NM
2016 Turkey  30 NM
2016 Turkey – Greece 200 NM
2016 Greece – Turkey 150 NM
2016 Greece East to West  300 NM
2016 Ionian Sea
2016 France – Lanzarote
2016 Lanzarote – Las Palmas
2016 Las Palmas – Cape Verde
2016 Cape Verde – Saint Lucia
2016 Saint Lucia – Dominica
2017 Dominica – Grenada
2017 Grenada – Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
2017 Saint Vincent & the Grenadines – Carriacou (Grenada)
2017 Carriacou – Antigua Sailing week!?

HitchSail stories on OceanXploration.com

Water adventures for entrepreneurial spirits
2014 Kitesurfing & Coworking for entrepreneurs Flaks
2015: Kitesurfing & Sailing Ionion Sea Greece with Ionion Sails
2015: Kitesurfing & Coworking for entrepreneurs – Flaks
2016: Sailing trips with a mission: The Inspirates

2014 AIDA 1* 2* Bali – Oli Christen – Freediveflow
2015 AIDA 3* 4* Bonaire – Carlos Coste – Deepseabonaire
2015 AIDA Instructor license with Stavros Kastrinakis – Freedivingclub Greece
PB 41 meters deep. 4.30minutes static.

Sustainability & Island projects
2012 Pacific Tourism Climate Adaptation Project
2015 Tonga Tourism and Adaptation to Climate Change
2013 Samoa Tourism and adaptation to Climate change
2014 Destination Saba Sustainability Assessment
2015 & 2016 Azores QualitySpots project

2013 – now Blog: DestinationXploration, about responsible adventure travel
2014 – now Blog: OceanXploration, about the hitchsailing journey
2015 – Sage Publications: Nature-based tourism in Vava’u, Tonga and Adaptation to Climate change
2016 Book: Guide to hitchsailing the Atlantic

Since 2009. Can jump, still not land.


Island exploration
Fascinated by island nations and identities I have explored these islands intensely:
Moreton Island, Australia
Gran Canaria, Spain
Fuerteventura, Spain
La Graciosa, Spain
Tenerife, Spain
Mallorca, Spain
Faial, Azores, Spain
South Island, New Zealand
Ionion Islands, Greece

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
St. Maarten
Andaman sea, Thailand
Langkawi, Malaysia
Gili Islands
Sao Vicente, Cape Verde

Educational background
Commerce International Event Management
Tourism Destination Management
+ Courses on Sustainability, Food sustainabilty, Ocean Archaeology, Contemporary Issues in Ocean Governance (Ocean)

I’ve worked as a host, tourguide, kayakinstructor, kitesurfinstructor, freediveinstructor, and last but not least: themepark mascot (pardoes).

Dutch, English, Spanish -> Fluent
German, French -> Intermediate
Bahasa Indonesia -> Can manage

In the Media

The press has picked up some of my ocean explorations :)


Yacht Magazine Germany Auf Fremden Kiele by Marc Bielefield


Janneke Dijkhuis: Stars Making Waves: Suzanne’s Oomph

Lonely Planet Magazine Germany : Wo stecken sie die Gerade

Nomadbase with The insPirates Our presence is temporary, our Impact will last

Cruiser TV Hitchsail your way from novice to pro

Süddeutsche Zeitung Süddeutsche zeitung Per Anhalter übers Meer (German)

BN de Stem “Vrouw uit Bavel (30) al liftzeilend de wereld over” Online and in print (Dutch)

DeOndernemer.nl Oceanpreneur steekt zeilend en zonder budget de oceanen over  (Dutch)

OmroepBrabant Gaaf: in foto’s en video’s hoe Bavelse liftend de wereld over zeilt  (Dutch)

NomadBase A day in the life of Suzanne van der Veeken


Epiclist Dreams are meant to be pursued, not postponed