Learning to Surf in Costa Rica

The following is a guest post by Tripper Lija Zalte. I got it into my head that I wanted to learn how to surf and instead of heading to Hawaii, Mexico or sticking to my local Bay Area coast, I booked a trip and ended up learning to surf in Costa Rica. People have been travelling to this Central American country for years in the hopes of catching the perfect wave, escaping the city life and living in relaxed bliss.

learning to surf in Costa RicaAfter a quick Internet search for good surf spots, I knew I wanted to head to the Pacific side of the country and discovered the town of Santa Teresa on the Nicoya Peninsula. The town is small; the main drag is a dirt road with a few restaurants, hotels, and a few shops selling surf gear, but the main attraction is several miles of awesome shoreline steps off of the main road.

After a few days of relaxing on the beach and checking out the surf, I signed up for a lesson with Nalu Surf School www.nalusurfschool.com.

My instructor Mauricio was a local Costa Rican who grew up surfing like many folks in the area. We started with the initial training on the shore, including tips on how to get your board past the incoming waves, discovering your leading foot (right food forward is considered goofy), and where to position your body on the board for the most stability. The next thing to learn was trying to stand up, seemingly easy on the shore! I had heard that if you practice yoga you might have an easier time surfing, so for any yogis out there, standing up on the board involves going from plank position to a lunge in one quick motion. Quick is key, as I would soon learn on the water. We walked out into the water, I hopped on the board and Mauricio helped position me to ride the first wave. I paddled, pushed up on the board with my arms and attempted to bring the right foot forward, but it was not happening. Time and again I attempted to stand up, but could only get to my knees, or at the most on my feet for two seconds. I felt a little defeated after the first lesson, but with anything I knew that it would only come with practice. I left the lesson and walked over to another surf shop, The Duck Dive, and talked to Oli and scheduled another lesson the next day.

Costa Rica Surf SchoolOli was from Canada and had been surfing for many years. We briefly went over the tips I learned the previous day and quickly got out into the water. Everything he kept telling me made sense, but putting it into practice on the water proved difficult once again. After many mouthfuls of salt-water, bruised knees, hips and ego, I concluded I might be better suited to body boarding. Feeling the rush of the wave behind you was an awesome feeling and if I can get that without standing up, I’ll take it!

I wish I had a picture to share of me standing up riding a wave, but here is one I took of another beginner, she made it look too easy!

Surfing in Costa Rica

Overall Costa Rica was a great place to attempt to surf; warm water, friendly people and consistent waves leads to a pretty fun experience!

Have you had a great experience learning to surf abroad?  Leave a comment! And if you're interested in more tips, connect with Lija via her Tripping profile.