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………