The Soul Surfer author and her fiancé got engaged on their favorite quiet beach

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
Updated May 27, 2013 02:00 PM
Courtesy Adam Dirks

Where else would Bethany Hamilton, author of Soul Surfer, get engaged but the beach?

“Adam knew how to please his mermaid,” Hamilton, 23, tells PEOPLE of her fiancé’s recent proposal. (She only refers to him by his first name, but he has been identified by Christian Today as Adam Dirks.)

After announcing her engagement on her blog earlier this month, Hamilton – who has inspired millions after she lost her left arm in a shark attack yet continued to pursue her passion for surfing – is giving PEOPLE the scoop on her perfect proposal to the man she met on the beach in 2012 after being introduced by friends.

“We hiked to our favorite quiet beach, munched on lunch and hung out,” she says. “Then we went for a walk to a beautiful garden behind the beach. As we were walking we found two coconuts, my favorite thing to drink, which accompanied the ring. Then he started sharing his heart and love for me, and he dropped on his knee and proposed. I said yes and was crying and laughing all in a jumble. It was beautiful and perfect.”

And then the surprises continued: “Later a boat pulled up to take us on a boat ride and snorkel,” she says. “We finished the evening to find my whole family and Adam’s really good friends at the dock to greet us and share a special sunset dinner on the ocean!”

Despite her love of the sea, it’s fairly certain this “mermaid” won’t be wearing a wetsuit when she walks down the aisle. Although she doesn’t reveal specifics of a possible dress, she does tell PEOPLE, “I look forward to getting extra dolled up for my man.”

“I am so excited for our wedding, but that is only one day to start the rest of our life together,” she says. “I’m even more excited to share life on a deeper level faithfully as husband and wife.”

Hamilton says the life she envisions for herself in the future includes continuing her surfing career, continuing to motive others through public speaking and appearances and, of course, spending quality time with her husband-to-be.

“My fiancée and I love to live healthy, active lifestyles, and we hope to share that with others,” she says. “I’m excited to go on some adventures with him as well.”

Hamilton has recently enjoyed some new underwater adventures since becoming PADI-certified for The Current, a film by Make A Hero, an organization that helps individuals with disabilities enjoy the freedom of sports and recreation.

“It was important for me to get involved with the organization and movie because I wanted to help promote the importance of having fun, and staying active and healthy in order to enjoy life, no matter your physical limitations,” she says. “Also, I love the ocean … and I know that it has played a unique role in my healing process and I want to share that.”

Reporting by RENNIE DYBALL