May Early Bird Special – Save 10% Today!


Book Now to Save 10%

Our May Early Bird Special ends April 1st!
Book any package for May from now until April 1st and save 10% off any standard package!
Our new surf instructor from Nosara, Kevin Monteil (pictured below), knows how good the conditions are in May! Or as Tyler says, “Early bird gets the waves in May… and a mango!”

The Inside Peak – A Family Affair


The Safari Surf experience is about special people sharing the essence of Pura Vida.

Tim and Tyler Marsh knew that had found something special when they came here.  It was about nature and waves, simplicity and clean country living, but especially it was the spirit and heart of the local people that really made a lasting impact on them. Costa Ricans are warm, helpful, friendly, sincere, and loyal to a fault. They love to share the joy they feel just being alive; they want to make you happy! Many lifelong friendships have been forged while on a surfing vacation here, and people stay in touch across the miles and over the years. In Hawaii it is known as “Ohana” – extended family. Here it called Pura Vida.

This week we feature a mother/son duo, Alicia and Luis. Everyone who has visited Casa Tucan over the last few years remembers Alicia. She worked in the restaurant there as a server/bartender and she is a consummate professional. I have seen her handle a full dining room with grace, unbelievable efficiency, and joy. Alicia is of an amazing caliber of server that can take an order from a table of 8 without writing anything down. She is a treasure and we are blessed to have her! Her 20 year old son Luis started surfing 8 years ago and had the benefit of being around the Safari Surf School operation out of the Casa Tucan location. He knew what he wanted to do! Alicia and Luis are true locals and have never strayed far from Nosara. There story is of a country life, farming, horses, pigs, and cows, and clean simple living. I sat with them to get this Inside Peak.

PL: Where were you born?

Alicia: In Nicoya at the hospital

PL: Tell me about your family and growing up here.

Alicia: I grew up in a big family, 6 sisters and 4 brothers. My father was a farmer and we lived on a big ranch just south of Nosara. We grew rice, corn, vegetables, beans, and melons. We always had enough food to go around.

PL: So you were a farm girl?

Alicia: Oh yes, I would milk the cows, sweep out the barn, and help at harvest time, the whole family did. We had horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens and they provided our food. I love horses and was a really good rider at one time.

PL: Where do you live now?

Alicia: We have a house a short distance from the farm we grew up on. I have two sons, Luis and Sebastian, and my husband Quillermo.


PL: When did you start working in restaurants?

Alicia: I started working at the Harbor Reef Lodge in 2000. I worked there a total of 11 years, mostly as a waitress in the restaurant. Then I heard about an opening at Casa Tucan. I was ready for a change and this was a small cozy place. I loved it and made many good friends there. It also introduced me to Safari Surf School which was very cool. I worked there a total of 3 years until it was sold.

PL: What was your biggest tip?

Alicia: One night I got $100 from two different tables!

PL: Now you are at Safari House?

Alicia: Yes, it’s much more private and personal, like being home.

PL: Do you plan to work at Olas Verdes?

Alicia: Oh Si Si Si, I can’t wait.


PL: Have you tried surfing?

Alicia: Yes! I had some lessons with Tinis (Safari female instructor) and love it. The ocean is very special, very powerful. The big waves scare me.

PL: Music?

Alicia: I love la musica romantica, I love to dance!

PL: Food?

Alicia: Camarones (shrimp)

PL: Dream Car?

Alicia: BMW – black with tinted windows!

PL: Dream Vacation?

Alicia: Isla San Andres in Colombia

PL: What is Pura Vida?

Alicia: It means Very Happy, Better than Better

PL: Good answer! Thank you Alicia, now to Luis…..

Alicia: Oh I am very proud of Luis!


PL: I am guess you were born in Nicoya?

Luis: Yes, I am 20 years old

PL: When did you discover surfing?

Luis: I started in High school 8 years ago.

PL: Your nickname “El Gato Volador” means flying cat, what does that mean?

Luis: Gato means cat, I inherited that from my grandpa. Volador means flying, so I am ‘the Flying Cat’.

PL: Does that relate to your surfing style?

Luis: I think so, I love to boost airs!


PL: When did you start teaching for Safari?

LUIS: Well my mom worked at Casa Tucan, I hung out there. All the instructors were surfing buddies and I would watch them with students. I knew this is what I wanted to do.

PL: How long have you been an instructor?

LUIS: I think it has been a couple of years. I passed the ISA certification and Tyler put me on a “trial period”. I think I made it!

PL: What points do you stress when teaching?

LUIS: I start on the beach with lots of stretching, it is very important!


PL: Do you surf in contests?

LUIS: No I don’t like to compete; I guess I am a free surfer!

PL: Places you’ve been surfing?

LUIS: Only on the Nicoya peninsula, there are a lot of secret places around here that nobody knows about.

PL: Dream Surf Trip?

LUIS: Bali

PL: Dream Car?

LUIS: 4×4 truck

PL: iPhone?

LUIS: Not yet but I am saving for one. I do have a smart phone though!

PL: Hobbies?

LUIS: I love to fish and ride horses. My grandfather has a big finca (ranch) where there is a beautiful casacada (waterfall). We sometimes take Safari guests there on horseback.

PL: Describe a perfect day

LUIS: I think its Dec 24-25, Christmas time – mucho fiesta!




Nosara boasts some pretty great non-surfing activities and tours. One of the most popular and my personal favorite is the MISS SKY CANOPY TOUR.

The tour takes place in a series of coastal mountains around 30 minutes from Playa Guiones.

It is a perfect combo of exercise, adventure, nature, and discovery.

Their website description says it all:

Set amidst the unequalled beauty of a Costa Rican forest wilderness is the longest, most exhilarating canopy tour in the world. Traversing majestic mountain ridges and valleys, soaring high above multiple ravines, with breathtaking vistas of rivers, waterfalls and the Pacific Ocean.  Comprised of 21 exhilarating runs, a stopover at the waterfall and river pools for a refreshing swim. Suitable for nature lovers, adventurers, families and all who wish to experience the ultimate canopy tour adventure; Miss Sky Canopy promises to be the experience of a lifetime.

I can attest to this, I’ve been on it ten times. The guides bring it all to life with great energy and humor – they love to play tricks! In the rainy season (May-Nov) you stop off at an amazing waterfall to swim. The tour takes about 4 hours and you will come away positively giddy!


In the next edition of Inside Peak don’t miss an up close and personal interview with the one and only, the irrepressible………


The Inside Peak – Buzz Around Town



There’s a lot going on in Nosara, new stuff everywhere! The staff interviews will have to wait another week, my fin hit my leg and now I’m out of commission:
injured thigh

Welcome back friends! I had planned to continue with my instructor profile series this week but had an unexpected “anomaly” occur. I was surfing fun small cruising waves a week ago when I had weird accident. I caught a wave and upon standing I must have hit a slippery spot and suddenly proceeded to slide to the front of the board (both feet) at a brisk clip. I didn’t intend to hang ten at this point but found myself on the tip of my surfboard anyway. With all my weight up front, the board became unbalanced and suddenly flipped over and I was deposited right on top of the fins with great force. The impact nailed me on my lateral right thigh, and sent me to bubble land. Luckily it was a mellow day with super clear water. When I surfaced the pain was blinding, so I treaded water until it abated, and of course kept surfing. Upon exiting the water, as I strolled up the path to my vehicle I glanced down and saw the grapefruit size lump on my leg.


My wife diagnosed my wound as a hematoma, which required constant ice and elevation.  I laid low for 4 days and followed her advice, and on day 5 thought I was healed. Therein I felt it appropriate to resume my pre-surf exercise regime of walking up and down our steep driveway swinging dumbbells. After that I decided to give surfing another go, and was stoked to find there was really no pain or restriction. Turns out I was the dumbbell. When I left the water this time the damn thing was badly swollen and black and blue. So I headed home and propped the leg up on pillows once again. My thigh was swollen and deeply bruised and the pressure of the hematoma impeded circulation to my lower leg and foot, which was turning blue. After a couple more days of no improvement the inevitable became apparent: bite the bullet and go to the hospital in Nicoya. Since we have our residency and associated social insurance there would be no cost, but no surfer I know wants to go to the doctor!

Costa Rica is known for its high standards of healthcare and all citizens are covered by the national socialized medicine system. There are also excellent private clinics and hospitals and people come from all over the world for dentistry, cosmetic surgery, etc. There are even programs called “medical tourism” where folks come down, have a facelift, and then go on tours around the country. But this costs money!


The drive to Nicoya takes about 1.5 hours, half of it on bumpy dirt roads. Since this is a social security hospital the place is a madhouse; screaming babies, elderly folks, soccer players holding limbs, and on and on. Trying to navigate the admission process is mind boggling and it’s good to have a helper. Our Tico gardener was with me and saved the day. It took all day, but I got in.

I received excellent care and was released early the next morning. The staff was friendly, sincere, upbeat and professional. BUT there are NO amenities like we are used to in American hospitals. But I won’t go into that! You leave feeling like you were “of the people” and I like that. When we decided to move here we were looking for “a more interesting life”. Man did we ever get it!

Best thing – I will surf again!


Many of our return alumni have had the chance to visit an original Nosara creation called the Black Sheep Pub. Located in the coastal mountains about 30 minutes from Playa Guiones, the pub is the creation of Joe and Helena Wygal originally from Boston. Joe travelled extensively throughout Europe in search of “Pub Culture”, collecting memorabilia from far and wide, and shipped it all here in a container. The pub is an amazing little working museum of sorts.  They are only open for special occasions, New Years, 4th of July, St. Patty’s day, and anniversaries. They celebrated their 8th anniversary on Saturday. If you are here for any of these openings you should go!


Lots of Development Around Town












The Inside Peak – Meet Our Instructors: Pio!


Inside Peak Instructor Profile: Roger ‘Pio’ Ruiz

‘Faith and Focus’

Pio Ruiz is a well recognized ‘fixture’ around Playa Guiones. He was one of the original locals to parlay his love of surfing into a career both with Safari and the Nosara Surf Shop. Pio’s positivity and innate sense of responsibility make him a very desirable employee. He has been an instructor with Safari Surf School since day one (14 years) and has been the manager of the Nosara Surf Shop for 11 years. He saves his money and owns a killer truck. Don’t talk to Pio about Ticos always being late and lazy, it makes him mad! I have always wanted to find out what make this upstanding, super-responsible surfer tick so here we go!


PL: Are you a Nosara native”

PIO: Yes. I was born in Nicoya in 1975, that was the closest hospital. Back then it was an epic journey to get there.

PL: Everyone calls you PIO. Is that your given name?

PIO: No my real name is Roger, it is actually a common name down here. My parents called me PIO because as a kid I loved to chase the little baby chickens around. They would make these loud non-stop peeps, “PIO PIO PIO”. True story!


PL: Where did you grow up?

PIO: In a little house by the river. I have 4 brothers and 3 sisters. Mom and Dad are still there, you should go meet them (I did!).

(Pio’s hearty salt of the earth parents, the Good Book always present. They are soooo proud of son PIO!)

PL: How long have you been surfing?

PIO: 20 years, maybe longer. All the guys fished and that eventually led us to the ocean. It was hard to ignore those amazing waves, everyday there were waves.


PL How did you become interested in teaching surfing?

PIO: Back in the late 90’s I got a job at Corky Carroll Surf School, it was the only surf school here. I was the “shop rat”, cleaning boards, swept floors, that kind of thing. I would watch the instructors and what a fun life they had making people happy. I knew that’s that what I wanted to be! I actually drove to California and worked at their Huntington Beach School for three years. I had a Visa. When I crossed the border into Arizona I discovered a big mistake on the Visa – my date of birth was listed as 1875, I was 120 years old!


PL: Wow, from Nosara to Irvine and Huntington Beach, what was that like?

PIO: It was all new and exciting, paved roads, endless buildings, fast food! It was a great experience but deep down I missed home, I’m a country boy at heart.


PL: You have been with Safari from day one?

PIO: Yes, it’s been 14 years. Safari Surf School was originally based at the Nosara Surf Shop. Eventually Tim and Tyler leased, and later bought the Casa Tucan and operated the school from there.


PL: You are also the manager of the surf shop?

PIO: Yes I met owner Michael Rourke while working for Safari and we hit it off. I have been there since 2003. It all fits together well; Mike has always been supportive of my work at Safari and vice versa.

PL: What do you like about teaching?

PIO: It’s great because you are in the water, getting exercise and stoking people out.

Surfing changes people’s lives, I can say that because I’ve seen it, still do!



PL: Funniest thing that happened during a lesson”

PIO: This one guy just could not get it when I said “go right, go left” He always went the opposite direction.


PL: You speak English very well. Did you take classes?

PIO: NO! I learned it all just by listening and talking.


PL: You are a man of faith?

PIO: Oh Yes. That picture you have of mom holding the bible; that is how we were raised.

I belong to a great fellowship that includes lots of American surfers. We meet every Thursday and services are in English.


PL: Dream Surf Trip?

PIO: Indonesia. I already have the boards!


PL: Favorite Surfer?

PIO: Australian Mick Fanning “fanning the flame”, Mike even brought me a signed poster from Surf Expo.


PL: Countries surfed?

PIO: USA (Cali), Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua.


Pl: Biggest wave you’ve surfed.

PIO: Pavones 6 years ago, 20 foot faces. They were calling it the biggest swell ever.

PAVONES in southern Costa Rica.

“Rides over a mile, your legs give out”!




PL: Music?

PIO: I like soft music, folk rock, and Christian.


PL: Food?

PIO: Fish Casado (casado means “married” In food terms a casado is a typical Tico dish with fish, rice, black beans, vegetables, and salad all on one plate).


PL: Special Girl?

PIO: I pray for that every night!


PL: I think you’ll find her! Thanks PIO, I really enjoyed talking to you.

PIO: Pura Vida!


This past week we experienced some very extreme tides – high highs and low lows. These “flood tides” are associated with the New Moon Cycle. During the low “minus tides” (below sea level) wonderful tide pools appear, great fun for kids, dogs, families!




Great group this week. Thanks for coming friends!

Top: Wayne, Michael, Ashley, Miriam

Bottom: Eric, Robert, Steve

The Inside Peak – Meet Our Instructors: Alonso!


Safari Instructor Profiles

This week on the Inside Peak, I begin a series of interviews with Safari Surf School instructors.
Since moving here I have long been fascinated by the amount of heart that our surf instructors put into their lessons. They take it all very personally, in the highest sense. They want their students to experience the same joy, inspiration, thrill, and spirit that surfing gives to them. The essence of the art of teaching is the genesis of Pura Vida. The nature of surf instruction is very intimate. People trust their instructors. Everything is very close, tactile, visceral and in motion. Its wet and salty, its warm, the sun is shining, and all around you are people stoked and hooting, feeling it!
To me you can’t put a value on the experience. I have seen surfing change people for the better!
This is the rhythm of the place, Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica. It is about living the in the moment and finding your place in the ocean.

Alonso Aragon (Chumino)

PL: Everyone calls you Chumino or Chumi. Is there a story behind that?
AA: “Chumino” refers to having coins or ‘change’ clanking around in your pockets. The change here is clunky and heavy, it weighs down your pockets. When I was a kid, I always had a pocketful of change so they called me ‘Chumi’.
PL: Are you a local boy, born and bred here?
AA: I was born in Nicoya in April 1984. We moved to Nosara Centro when I was a young boy.
PL: When did you discover the ocean?
AA: I was introduced to the water at a very young age. I grew up by the Rio Nosara where we fished and went shrimping. The river provided so much food! I fell in love with it immediately. I began surfing when I was 15….I’m almost 30 now so I have been surfing full on for 15 years.
PL: What are your early memories of the area?
AA: Everything was simple and slow. We were very in tune with nature. People shared and helped each other. Lots of families, we were happy, I remember that. We always had enough to eat, a home, family and friends.

“Everyone fished, even the dogs!”

PL: Family?
AA: My mom and grandmother are here. I have 6 brothers, 2 sisters, and heaps of aunts, uncles, and cousins. I live with my son Jay (7 yrs). His mother (Dunia) is my novia!

Son Jay following in dad’s footsteps

Alonso and Dunia

PL: How did you become interested in teaching surfing?
AA: I was a waiter at Casa Tucan, Safari’s old home. It was a small hotel and great restaurant. It was a surf place. I could see how much surfing stoked people, especially the beginners. I decided I wanted to help people learn to surf, to share all the gifts the ocean has given to me my whole life. It seemed like a dream job. I have been with Safari now for 8 years.
PL: Did you have training for this?
AA: Yes. I had to meet all the requirements and standards for ISA (International surfing Association) certification. There is a tough final exam and swim test. I passed!
PL: What do you like about teaching?
AA: The people and the joy they have when they catch a good ride. It is very satisfying and rewarding to pass this happiness on to people. I also love the kids. At Safari we have a program called ‘kids camp’. It a full or half day camp where we surf, play games, make art, and eat together, I love it because I’m a big kid.


PL: I remember Prado (former Safari instructor) telling me that all the best local surfers in the area aspired to become surf instructors. He said there was a “code” amongst his peers that set very high value on “giving the best lesson”.
AA: Yes true, we all wanted to be the best. Everyone wanted to teach for Safari, that was considered the premiere place to teach.
PL:  Any coaching tips, common mistakes, etc.?
AA: It is very important to always stay pointed out to sea. You don’t want to get caught “broadside”, that can knock you down hard. We do lots of beach exercises, pop-ups, that kind of thing. Proper stance, knees bent, back straight, hands by your sides. When we hit the water I am with my students at all times. We all (instructors) wear bright yellow rash guards so they can always find us!


PL: We hear a lot about your fishing accomplishments. Safari even has an activity called “Fish with Alonso” where guests can spend a morning with you at your favorite fishing spot.
AA: Fishing has always been a big part of my life. I just love it. There are huge Robalo (snook)
at the Boca (river mouth). These are excellent eating fish. I have heard these are illegal to take in Florida and other states. Not here!


PL: Favorite Food
AA: fried fish!
PL: Music?
AA: Reggae
PL: Dream surf Trip?
AA: Indonesia
PL: Biggest waves you’ve surfed
AA: 8-10 feet in Nicaragua. I love big waves. I would love to try tow-in surfing.

PL: Describe your perfect day
AA: Starts with early morning at the boca fishing, then surfing big hollow waves. After that I give surfing lessons at Safari. The rest of the day is for being with my family. And fried fish!

Safari’s Guests Last Week–see you next year!





Thanks for reading!
Pura vida,