Central America

Costa Rica | Our big surfing adventure

March 2, 2018

Surfing has so much going for it. It involves sun, sea, sand, exercise and a lot of FUN. But this is just early days. Afterwards comes frustration, perseverance, time, effort, willpower before going back to fun. It is not for everyone but we LOVE it. One of our big Costa Rica goals has been learning how to surf. So how did we get on?

We live in the centre of Costa Rica. On a good day it takes us one and a half hours to drive from our house to Jacó beach, a black beach thanks to its volcanic surroundings. Jacó is your typical touristic beach town. Loads of bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. This place might not be your thing, it wasn’t ours at first, but over time it has really grown on us. It’s here that we first started surfing in Costa Rica. For me it was a first. Nick had already done some surfing in Europe. Needless to say the conditions here are a lot better. The water is warm and the waves are consistently good all year round.

Tip! For a proper surfing experience, go for a surf camp that lasts 5 – 7 days. You’ll only progress well when you get to spend lots of hours on the water. Not a lesson here and there but being out on the water days on end.

The big challenge

Getting. Out. There. You might think that once you succeed in getting up and not falling down as soon as the water hits you, you are there, you made it. Wrong! The big challenge for me is simply getting ‘out back’. With surfing you use muscles you don’t normally use, which makes paddling out very tiring. Basically, you have have to be quite fit to surf and if you are not you’ll learn the hard way by getting your ass kicked by waves. Once you get those two things down it’s all about timing. When is the right time to turn around, start paddling like a maniac in order to get on the wave? I’ll be honest: I have no idea. Once I am out back it all looks the same to me. Nick struggles with timing too, always being a bit too slow or too quick.

Nick’s thoughts on surfing: One of our missions when we came to Costa Rica was to learn to surf. Most weekends we head over to Jacó, trying to make the most of this amazing opportunity while we have it. After a few hours in the water a cold beer at the local brewpub is well deserved!

Tortuga Surf Camp
The surf school we had our first lessons with is Tortuga Surf Camp. Not being a naturally gifted surfer (who’d have thought it) I had my share of surf teachers here. All great teachers that have their own unique way of teaching. Some go easy on you, some give you tough love. At this particular surf camp they only provide one-on-one lessons. Which is great because you get all the focus. After a while I wanted to stick with just one teacher. That teacher turned out to be Doug, a truly amazing teacher with whom I have spent many hours in the water catching waves.

Another tip: Do some research before picking a surf school. I know I know, this seems obvious. Just bear in mind that surfing is not the safest of sports. Waves can be strong and you need a teacher that knows his/ her stuff.

In another couple of months we’ll be heading back to Holland, where the water is cold and the waves are less ruthless. We will miss seeing rays leaping out the water, pelicans diving for fish along the break and whales breaching in the distance. We will also never forget those stunning sunset surfs when all goes quiet and there’s just water and color.


Being in the mountains more your thing? Check out our blog about trekking to The Lost City in Colombia.

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