This paper explores women's experiences of accessing serious leisure. It responds to a perceived tendency in contemporary feminist theories of leisure to celebrate women's ability to weave potentially empowering identities from discursive resources in leisure spaces and experiences. While this work creates much needed theoretical space for the exploration of women's agency and self determination within leisure, there is little critical attention given to how women may first negotiate the complexity of their gendered lives to gain access to these sites and experiences. By drawing on the accounts of forty women involved in the Sea Cadet Corps, a form of serious leisure, this paper argues that accessing leisure is still an important aspect of women's leisure experiences. Women cited here engage in active and conscious practices and performances to both justify their access to leisure and to enable their disengagement from demands associated with normative femininity. This paper concludes that to sideline questions of access serves to conceptually dislocate leisure from the wider patterns of women's everyday lives and limits our understanding of how women perceive, use and give meaning to their serious leisure participation.