Pura Vida - Safari Surf School in Costa Rica
Safari Surf School in Nosara, Costa Rica
Run a marathon. Climb to the top of a mountain. Learn to surf. My life “to-do” list looking something like this until I decided to book a trip that would allow me to cross one big thing off - “Learn to surf.” I chose the Safari Surf School in Nosara, Costa Rica, where I hoped their instructors could turn me into a female Kelly Slater in only seven days.
You Will Probably Not Surf Like This...
Nosara: “Where the jungle meets the sand”
To travel to Nosara, you will most likely fly to Liberia and take a 2 – 2.5 hour drive or a short commuter flight. Nosara is located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica in the Guanacaste Province on Playa Guiones, and is known for its pristine beaches, lush jungle landscape and friendly Ticos (Costa Rican natives.) This laid-back community provides an escape from reality with all the comforts of home. The surf here is world-famous and provides small waves for beginners to learn easily, and significantly harder waves farther out for those surfers looking to challenge themselves. The beach in Nosara is well secluded from any main roads so the town is peaceful, tranquil and virtually untouched as far as commercial development.
A Day in the Life: Surf School
A day in the life of a beginner surfer (me) starts around 8:00 am with the first of two daily lessons – the actual time of each lesson varies with the surf report each day. Waking up is not hard to do when howler monkeys are your alarm clock!
The first lesson is all about fitting you with a board, teaching you the basic techniques of surfing, ocean safety and then away you go, paddling into the ocean. The waves are typically calm where the beginners surf, and the water didn’t get any higher than chest level. Between the morning lesson and the afternoon lesson (usually around 3:30 or 4:00) there is plenty of time to relax, explore the area or book one of the activities Nosara has to offer. I booked a horseback ride through the jungle – where else could you trot from jungle to beach and back again in the same 30 minutes – and a zip line through the jungle canopy. Nosara boasts the longest zip line in the world.
Throughout the different seasons – divided up into wet and dry – there are other activities like ATV rides, trips to see some of the magnificent waterfalls and going to see the turtles at the Ostional Wildlife Park.
Getting Prepared/What to Bring
the guys at Safari Surf School say you need to be prepared for the
physicality of surfing, they really mean it. Each time you get up on
the board and surf toward shore, you have to turn around and swim back
out again. Not the mention the waves pounding on you as you wait for
your next "big" ride. Any cardio will help, swimming is a must and
there are plenty of surfing workout DVDs that help with balance -
something I discovered was VERY important.
Be sure to bring a
comfortable (and secure!!) bathing suit. I bought a rash guard and
board shorts at the local surf shop, partly as a souvenir and partly as
a necessity as I didn't want to get board rash all over my front.
Sunscreen and bug spray are both a must, especially if you are there
during the wet season.
The Safari Surf School experience
Pura Vida: Costa Rica is "Full of Life"
Aside from the personal attention and instruction, the fresh seafood was amazing, the fresh fruit abundant and I had the best massage I have ever had in a small hut just three minutes from the beach. The accommodations at our chosen hotel, an eco-friendly establishment named The Harmony, were a perfectly serene compliment to the whole trip. I could think of no better way to cross “learn to surf” off my list than my week with the Safari Surf School in Costa Rica.
Take some time to research the seasons before you go. Since they are in the Southern Hemisphere, their summer (or dry season) is our winter and vice versa. Nosara is a great place to visit mostly year round – September and October are very wet and some businesses will close for that time period. And, when you go, remember this typical Costa Rican greeting, which means “full of life”: “Pura Vida!”