The Inside Peak – New Season & New Headquarters

Posted by & filed under The Inside Peak.

Hi Everybody – Welcome to our new edition of the Inside Peak! We wanted to capture more of the life and color of our guest’s Nosara experiences, so I will be submitting a monthly synopsis of Safari – Everything Surf! – yours truly, Peter Lewis.

First Month in New Headquarters - The Inside Peak - Safari Surf School

Summer Arrives

Blue Skies, brilliant sunshine, and offshore winds appear to have ushered in an early summer season. Even though we are located 9 degrees North of the equator, our dry season here (Dec-April) is referred to as “summer”, and the rainy season (May-Nov) “winter”. The dry season also corresponds with what I refer to as the” International High Season” – where snowbirds escape the cold climes to find warm playgrounds! Here in Nosara we must endure ‘Septober’, our two rainiest months where everything shuts down and all there is to do is read and sleep. November can go either way weather wise, last November was a washout, I’ll take an early summer any day! All around town merchants are painting, renovating, landscaping, and spiffing up for the upcoming season. This year we are seeing a lot of construction everywhere. There are also at least three new tour companies stocked with ATVs, bicycles, and transport vans. The roads were horrendous after the rainy season but heavy equipment moved in and cleaned everything up. However the hot, dry, and windy weather, produce an unwelcome byproduct: polvo or dust. Driving becomes more difficult as visibility is compromised, especially after the big delivery trucks storm by. With lots of motorcycles, ATVs , bicycles, and pedestrians on the roads, everyone covers up with scarves, respirator masks, goggles, and all sorts of innovations (banana leaves, etc.!). The beaches provide sanctuary from the dust storm and is the place to be.

Prado and Helberth

Pura vida from Prado and Helberth

As we move into our summer months clear skies, blazing sun, and inviting blue ocean beacon. As the Northern Nemisphere winter takes hold, our weather becomes dreamy. Every day is a carbon copy of the one before. The waves this time of year settle down and offer lovely conditions for surf school attendees. Playa Guiones is an immense white sand beach where the inclination of the ocean floor is very gradual, allowing for a safe and comfortable entry into the wave zone. Waves here tend to regenerate into new waves after they break on the outside, creating numerous fun zones for beginners. This is one of the friendliest surf locales on the planet. With lots of room to move enthusiasts can always find an empty peak down the beach. With all the best local surfers employed as surf instructors, we have very little “localism” in the water and the spirit of Pura Vida and Aloha prevail!

Donavon’s Return

Safari’s new season opened early and with a bang as we hosted Billabong Pro and wildly popular singer/songwriter Donavon Frankenreiter to Nosara for surfing fun and a big concert at the well known ‘Tropicana’ discotheque. Due to Donavon’s busy schedule he could only come down for a few days in the first week of November which was before the season takes off, but in spite of this the concert pulled in 350 stoked revelers and was a memorable event. Safari is aligned with global surf brand Billabong, which operates and endorses surf schools and camps around the world. Their ‘Surf with a Pro” camps are unique offerings. Staged at exotic locales with perfect surf and idyllic surroundings, a limited number of enthusiasts can book a week to surf and hang with their favorite pro. Only a few select surf camp operations are chosen to host these events. Safari is stoked and proud to have been selected twice to hold Donavon’s camps, and we look forward to more in the future.

Donavon and Peter

Jammin’ with the Pros

The New Safari

We open this season in a brand new location and with renewed focus and energy. For the past 12 years Safari Surf School operated out of the Casa Tucan, a little eight room hotel and restaurant on main street Guiones. The property was sold and Safari circled the wagons around a very special property fronting the maritime zone until we secured a house and five lots to be developed into an upscale sustainable new surf resort called Olas Verdes (Green Waves). Throughout the upcoming season we will welcome surf school guests and operate out of the “Safari House” while the new resort is being developed. The approach is much different than before, as we no longer have a public hotel/restaurant to contend with. It’s a more personal hands-on style of hospitality and service, as if we are entertaining company in our own home. Guests have a choice of several lodging options, the closest and most popular being Harmony and Harbor Reef. We meet daily at the Safari House for lessons, meals, and special events. Surf lessons are conducted a short walk down a wooded path, away from the main beach crowds. Our goal is to create an inviting surfy clubhouse atmosphere where guests can relax and unwind and meet new friends.

Check out the gallery of our new friends and facility so far this season!

Support the Nosara Wildlife Refuge and “Stop the shocks… after all, it’s a jungle out there.”

Posted by & filed under Community, The Sustainable Swell.

The Nosara Wildlife Refuge is a worthy cause! They are not a zoo or a wild animal park. Visitors are welcome only with advance appointments and not in large masses. It is a place for rehabilitation; filled with hope that injured animals will one day be free again.

Brenda BombardI admire Brenda Bombard, the creator of the refuge, immensely for what she does. She has built a rescue program that is well known throughout the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica and beyond. She cares tirelessly for these animals, donating her time, resources and energies to repairing some of the damages that the impact of society has created. As a consequence of her work, she also has to face despairing situations on a regular basis. It takes great courage to deal with the grim and oftentimes fatal injuries that these animals have incurred.

The day that we visited the refuge, Brenda greeted us and walked us out to the broad area on her property where she has constructed giant containment areas for the animals. Many of the monkeys were running, swinging, and jumping around together to the delight of my kids. The Capuchin monkeys were the funniest. They would swing through the cage, land right next to us and make faces. It seemed as though everything they did was to entertain. In the trees above the property, an entire troop of Howler monkeys was playing in the wild. We were surrounded!

Nosara Wildlife Refuge - Howler MonkeyBefore we were introduced to the individual rescue animals, Brenda gave us a short bit of history on the reasons they usually end up there. The most prolific reason is shock by the uncovered electrical wires and transformers. The refuge is working constantly with ICE, the Costa Rica electrical company to have these wires safe guarded. They have made steady progress, but there is such a long way to go and the expenses for this are, unfortunately, not being covered by ICE in most cases. At one point, Brenda brought out a Howler who had been blinded by electrocution. My oldest daughter was allowed to hold the monkey in its baby blanket and we were all able to give it a little love. This monkey, unfortunately, cannot rejoin the wild, so, it will remain at the refuge.

Other animals were at the refuge due to misguided people taking them in as pets. In one case, Brenda was called to remove a Capuchin monkey from a house that it had basically taken over. The owners of the home had found the monkey as a baby and decided to keep it. They raised it in their home as you would a dog or cat, only to discover that the “wild” was not out of the monkey. When it got older and reached adolescence it became destructive, mischievous and, at times, violent. By the time Brenda was called, the monkey was inside the house while the owners were outside, too afraid to enter. There are television shows and reports that have depicted these monkeys as well as other types to be villains because of their attacks on humans, but, how can we expect docile domestic behavior from animals that are wild? It is no different than expecting a Grizzly bear to cuddle in bed with your child at night rather than a teddy bear.

Then, of course, there are the dogs. Anyone who has visited Costa Rica knows that there is a problem with domestic animals being allowed to roam freely. The dogs have an innate desire to catch the monkeys and when they do, it is not a fair fight. If a young monkey falls from a tree and becomes prey to a large dog, its chances of survival are grim. Luckily, the refuge has managed to save a few of these monkeys which they will likely be able to return to the wild. At the same time, they work with the local vets to spay and neuter stray animals and encourage leashes.

Nosara Wildlife Refuge

These are just a few of the reasons for animals finding themselves in the safe haven of Nosara Wildlife Refuge. Due to its incredible reputation, the refuge finds itself with more and more animals every day. This, despite their ongoing efforts to educate the community.

Nosara Wildlife Refuge - Isomil Baby Howler MonkeyCurrently, Brenda is caring for many babies which increases the difficulty of the job tenfold. The babies need Isomil baby formula, dried goat’s milk, and constant care. They do the best that they can but without help from outside donations, they could not possibly afford to treat these animals.

If you have visited Nosara, you have undoubtedly spent some time admiring the Howler’s in the trees. If you have not visited Nosara, it will definitely be something you will want to see and that you won’t forget. It is much better to see them in the trees than in a recovery unit. My children learned that from our visit to the refuge and we all gained an impactful education that will stay with us forever.

Please consider making a contribution to the Refuge. Anything that any of us can do to help, no matter how small, is a benefit to this deserving facility. They have a website with a means for monetary donations and a wish list. If you are traveling to Nosara in the near future, Safari Surf will be happy to make arrangements for you to visit Nosara Wildlife Refuge in person and deliver any items that you have to donate. We will also arrange for items to be sent to Nosara if you would like to mail them to our US address.
Support the Nosara Wildlife Refuge
Donations will help the refuge acquire an ultrasound machine as well as a temperature control infant incubator, which will help with the many burned monkeys they receive.

Safari Surf School’s Week with Donavon Frankenreiter

Posted by & filed under Friends, Surfing.

Last week was Billabong’s Surf With a Pro with none other than the legendary surfer and musician, Donavon Frankenreiter! We had an awesome time sharing the pura vida vibes of Nosara and Playa Guiones with Donavon, Billabong crew and the lucky SWAP winners! Donavon and Grundy’s topped the week off with an epic show at the Tropicana in front of a jam packed crowd! Scroll down to see some snapshots of the stoke-filled week:

Safari Surf School's Week with Donavon Frankenreiter

Donavon and Surf with a Pro winners on their way to Mala Noche waterfalls.

Donavon Frankenreiter - Safari Surf School

Mala Noche waterfalls. Photo by Donavon Frankenreiter via Instagram.

Donavon Frankenreiter - Safari Surf School

Safari Surf’s Sustainability Director, Carl Kish, stoked to take a break from work and jump off some cliffs.

Donavon Frankenreiter - Safari Surf School

SSS Owner, Tim Marsh, and headliner, Pierre Monney before the show.

Donavon Frankenreiter - Safari Surf School

Double Trouble. Brothers Tim and Tyler Marsh.

Donavon Frankenreiter - Safari Surf School

Billabong Camps Manger, Josh and Billabong Photographer, Troy.

Donavon Frankenreiter - Safari Surf School

Peter from Safari Surf School was invited up on stage to jam on the harmonica with Donavon and Grundy’s! It was all time!

Donavon Frankenreiter - Safari Surf School

The man of the hour–Donavon! Photo by Ariana Crespo from La Voz de Guanacaste.

Safari Surf School Getting Ready for the New Season!

Posted by & filed under Business In "Pura Vida-Ville".

We have been rallying the troops over here in Playa Guiones to get ready for the new season and a new Safari Surf School! As most of you all know, our last season at the Hotel Casa Tucan ended in August and we have moved on to a more sustainable future with our new LEED surf resort – Olas Verdes, which will begin construction in the next couple weeks! While Olas Verdes is being built, Safari Surf School and Women’s Surf Adventures will be based out of our large house that sits on the developed part of the Olas Verdes property. It’s a beautiful home that has everything we need… we just wanted to make it our own so it really exemplifies the pura vida vibe we’ve come to know and love! See the beginning stages of prepping the new Safari Surf HQ last week:

Safari Surf School - Getting Ready for the New Season

Who knew cleaning could be so fun?!

Safari Surf School - Getting Ready for the New Season

Our “board room” while the real surfboard shack is being built!

Safari Surf School - Getting Ready for the New Season

Rigo getting the speakers ready for some pura vida nights!

Donavon Frankenreiter is Returning to Nosara With Safari Surf School

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Singer-songwriter and pro-surfer Donavon Frankenreiter is returning to Nosara in November after a two year absence and will be performing a concert Nov. 8 at the Tropicana.

Frankenreiter will be in the local waters as part of the “Surf With a Pro” program sponsored by Billabong at the affiliated Safari Surf School. He and his musical partner Matt Grundy will offer an acoustic show featuring some songs from his latest CD, Start Livin’.

Peter Lewis, programs coordinator with Safari Surf School who is handling logistics for the local show, said “We are stoked that this is the second time they have chosen Nosara to bring down Donovan and his camp. I think Billabong likes what they see in Nosara, because it’s diverse and family oriented. His music is optimistic, and he has some kind of magical aura. It’s a very high energy show that people get caught up in. He brings people together.”

To add an extra dimension to the show, VJ and professional photographer Ray Moss will be presenting his signature TransceVisuals, a real-time liquid-themed computerized image show, which will be projected from behind the stage onto a screen. Moss said, “I’m looking forward to showing some underwater video imagery that I took from a trip to the Caribbean, as well as some liquid-themed imagery filmed at Guiones, including some video of Donavan surfing.”

Frankenreiter’s sponsorship as a ‘free surfer’ by Billabong allows him to surf while no longer competing in tournaments. Now 39 and based in Hawaii with his wife and two sons, his concert/surf tours have recently taken him to Australia and the U.S. East Coast.

Surfing the waters of San Clemente, California as a teenager, Donavan began his musical career at 17 and quickly developed a passion for it that equaled his love of surfing. In the mid ’90s, he joined Sunchild, a five-piece “good time rock and roll” band, which gained acclaim in Southern California for its laid back style, reminiscent of the late ’60s and early ’70s LA sound. During its time, Sunchild opened for The Doobie Brothers, Willie Nelson, Ben Harper, Social Distortion and The Descendants, and joined the Vans Warped Tour.

Frankenreiter released the first of a series of solo discs in 2002. According to his website, “Spurred by the coupling of his desire to say something original along with a new found musical maturity, Donavon boldly rode the wave into the world of the acoustic singer/songwriter.”

Local musician ‘Jungle Joe’ Davis will integrate the PA system with the Tropicana’s house sound system to fill the venue with sound.

Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and are available in advance at the Frog Pad, Harbor Reef Hotel, Surfing Nosara, Organico Mini-Market, as well as directly from Peter Lewis at 8911-4593.

His signature folk-rock style tunes can be sampled or purchased at his website,

Source: Costa Rica Star

Article by: Voice of Guanacaste

Safari Surf Delivers Toothbrushes and Toothpaste to Local Schools

Posted by & filed under Community, Sustainability.

We want to give a HUGE thank you shaka to Safari Surf guest Kris Maichle, who brought down toothbrushes & toothpaste for local Nosara schoolchildren as part of our Pack for a Purpose program. Check out some pictures of Kris and Safari Surf staff members, including owner Tyler Marsh handing out Kris’ donation at a local school!

Pura Vida!

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Olas Verdes Press Release

Posted by & filed under Business, Sustainability.

Safari Surf School’s new headquarters to be developed using sustainable design practices.


Contact: Carl Kish at 866-433-3355 or

NOSARA, COSTA RICA – Safari Surf School, Costa Rica’s premier surf school and surf camp, will begin construction of its new headquarters — Olas Verdes — in November of this year.

The beachfront property is located on the edge of a 200 meter setback from Playa Guiones in adherence with the protection of the Ostional Wildlife Refuge. Local architecture firm, Prendas Loria, in collaboration with Safari Surf’s Sustainability Director, Carl Kish, will ensure Olas Verdes complies with internationally recognized sustainable design and tourism standards.

Safari Surf’s longtime base of operations,the Hotel Casa Tucan, and the surrounding property was purchased by the owners of the The Harmony Hotel, a local sustainable resort. While Safari Surf School’s owners, Tim and Tyler Marsh, are saddened to part with the hotel that has been their headquarters for over a decade, they are eager to push the envelope for sustainable tourism with Olas Verdes.

“What excites us the most is this entire project will be built with sustainability in mind. From the architecture, to the water reclamation, to solar, grey water systems etc. Our facility will be built with Sustainable Certification as a top priority from the country’s highest standard (CST), as well as certification from the Center for Surf Research.” — Tim Marsh, Co-Owner/CEO.

Hotel Casa Tucan has long been a central part of the growing surf community of Playa Guiones as well as Nosara, and has been a “second home” to thousands of Safari Surf School students who have come to Costa Rica to learn to surf and experience the Costa Rican “pura vida” firsthand.

Tim Marsh’s full story on the Casa Tucan and more details about Olas Verdes are available here:

About Safari Surf School

Founded by brothers Tim and Tyler Marsh in 1999, Safari Surf School is an official Billabong Camp and is Costa Rica’s premier surf school. In addition to surf lessons from ISA certified instructors, Safari offers complete vacation packages including a range of accommodations, dining, transportation and numerous other activities. The school is located at Playa Guiones near Nosara on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. Business and administrative operations are based in San Diego, CA, U.S.A. Specific businesses include Safari Surf School, Safari Surf Adventures, Safari Surf Vacations, and Women’s Surf Adventures. For more information about Safari Surf School, go to


Ciao to the Casa Tucan

Posted by & filed under Business, Business In "Pura Vida-Ville", Community, Sustainability.

Safari Surf & Hotel Casa Tucan – “The Story”

by Tim Marsh, Co-Owner/CEO.

I can remember my first time at the Hotel Casa Tucan in 1995…driving through Nosara on a mission to find surf, sun, and fun on my first visit to the “rich coast”, I stopped in to have a beer and ask directions. Little did I know at that time that I would come back years later and run a business out of this location.

Safari Surf School officially opened its “doors” in 1999 and from 1999 to 2005 the Hotel Casa Tucan was home to our surf program and the base of Safari’s operations. We were a small start up surf school, one of the first in all of Costa Rica at the time, and using this facility as our base of operations. We did not own the hotel but we had forged a good relationship with the manager and owner and promised her we could fill the place with traveling surfers and tourists.

From 1999 to 2005, Safari Surf steadily grew and had a solid “fan base”…word was getting out about this cool surf location, cool and unique surf program, and the unbelievable local townspeople, vibe, and just amazing aura that was Nosara, Playa Guiones. Hotel Casa Tucan along with its charm and mystique steadily became a meeting spot, a hub if you will, for traveling surfers and tourists alike. The rustic charm, the relaxed pura vida vibe of the staff was unmatched. It was so authentic you could taste it. People who could afford to stay at much more expensive lodging preferred to stay at the Casa Tucan due to its charm, its allure of pura vida, its relaxed vibe…it was perfect in so many ways.

In 2005, the hotel became available for purchase. We (Tim & Tyler) quickly knew something had to be done to make sure they could keep this little slice of nirvana. We reached out to a few previous surf school guests about the prospect of going in with them and purchasing the hotel, bar & restaurant. Within a few short weeks the funds were realized and the hotel & bar were now firmly rooted in Safari Surf Schools’ name and future plans.

From 2005 to 2010, Safari Surf school steadily rose to prominence within its industry…building relationships with guests one by one that will last a lifetime. Families, new found friends, continue to return year in and year out to visit Playa Guiones, Safari Surf, and Hotel Casa Tucan. So many faces have come in and out of Casa Tucan over the years and many to this day continue to come and enjoy the charm and serenity they have become accustomed too at their home away from home…Hotel Casa Tucan.

We have watched many of the families children grow over the years and every time they return it is like a long lost family reunion…something that cannot be forged, a real bond with people and place.

In 2010, the “other” investors preferred not to be involved in the hotel and bar side of the business so Tyler and I decided to lease the entire hotel to keep secure the environment we had created over all those previous years. To keep intact the vibe and aura that had become so renown to all its guests.
In March of this year (2013) we were approached by an investor who was eager to buy our property. So much so, that this investor offered top dollar for our entire property. Tyler and I being 1/3 partners were unfortunately not in the majority and a decision was made to sell the Hotel Casa Tucan. 30 days later and the hotel was sold. The new owners were nice enough to allow Safari Surf to finish out its current lease that runs through August of 2013. At that time the Hotel Casa Tucan, the memories, will unfortunately be no more.

This was obviously an incredibly difficult time for Tyler and me in many respects…but mainly, what were we going to do for our business, how were we going to move forward? Things transpired in lightening speed and the reality that Safari Surf did not have a home after Aug. was to say the least, a bit stressful for us.

It’s interesting how life moves…moves in ways we cannot predict. I believe things happen for a reason and that fate does play a role in our lives more than we recognize.

Not more than 2 or 3 days had passed once we had realized we were not going to be able to save the Hotel Casa Tucan than an aberration appeared before us…my wife Marsi and I had reached out to many of the local real estate and rental agents in and around Nosara inquiring about locations or homes we could use to set up our base of operations for our surf program, when we received a phone call from one of the agents informing me that there was an amazing property that had just become available and it was not currently on the market so no one knew of its availability.

This property is right on the 200 meter line or as most in Nosara know…beachfront as you can get in Playa Guiones. There were 8 lots with one of the lots having a gorgeous 4 BR 3 bath home on it. This was the ideal location for an amazing surf school retreat.

I had to work extremely fast as time was not on my side. Once word got out to the other local RE agents that this property was for sale and it would have gone in a second. There has been a large influx of money coming back into Nosara and the fact that this was available would have been swallowed up by an investor quite quickly. You just don’t see this size of a property, with its location (and potential) available any more in Playa Guiones.

I quickly sprang into action and put together an investment opportunity and sent this proposal out to a few select people I thought might be interested. The long and short of it was I was right…there were interested parties and when it all came down to it the property was purchased and a new partnership came to life.

The plans for this new location are to build an office for Safari Surf School, a club house, kitchen / food service area, pool, commons area with BBQ along with 8 to 12 (2) BR units for rent.

What excites us the most is this entire project will be built with sustainability in mind. From the architecture, to the water reclamation, to solar, grey water systems etc. Our facility will be built with Sustainable Certification as top priority from the country’s highest standard ICT as well as certification from Center for Surf Research and other entities.

The name of our new location will be “Ola Verde” or Green Wave.

We have begun the architectural design phase and anticipate breaking ground this coming November 2013. Safari Surf will be putting together a blog to follow the progress of this amazing project from start to finish.

The one and most important thing we want to transfer from the Casa Tucan to Ola Verde is that amazing vibe, that relaxed surf theme. What made the Casa Tucan so amazing was ultimately the staff…and we will be bringing the majority of our staff with us…keeping intact the “real” pura vida vibe that made Casa Tucan and will make Ola Verde the place to be!


First drawings of the new Safari Surf Clubhouse at Ola Verde.

The Inside Peak – Weekly Wrap 05.22.13

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Welcome back to the Inside Peak, fresh from a short holiday to Panama to check out the Caribbean (it was nice!) and some much needed down-time (as life is SO hectic here) and we are back and ready to rip!

In fact, a whole lot of Guiones has gone into shut down mode over the past few weeks. The bars and restaurants have been relatively empty, as have the crowds in the surf. Even the usually bustling Casa Tucan has been quiet and relaxed, and we have only had a handful of students taking lessons from our expert instructors.

But while things have been slowing down on land, it seems somebody forgot to let the ocean know it could have a break too. The surf has been, again, continuously pumping for the last week, with well over head high conditions on the outside breaks being the norm. Once again this is thanks to big south swells being generated wayyyyy down in the southern Pacific Ocean, somewhere between Auckland and Antarctica. These swells travel thousands of miles across open ocean before they hit our beach, and by that time they have sorted themselves into the well groomed, long interval peaks that we know so well.

But we aren´t the only break in the world that turns on in these swells. Waves across literally half the globe have been lighting up over the past few weeks, from Fiji to Tahiti to Hawaii to Mexico. Here is how the swell looked in Ala Moana, Hawaii…

…and Teahupoo, Tahiti…

Now, not quite as large but no less exciting, check out some pictures and videos below from Safari Surf School guests making the most of conditions at Playa Guiones over the past few weeks…


That´s all for the Inside Peak this week. My apologies for the shortness of the blog post, but watch out as things ramp back up again coming into Summer! As always, keep an eye out on our Facebook, Instagram (safarisurfer) and Twitter accounts for daily updates on the Safari Surf School World.