How to Plan the Ultimate Costa Rica Vacation

Aloha plus Pura Vida is Safari Surf School!

A trip to Costa Rica is far more than just a surf trip. A Costa Rica Vacation, even one centered around surfing, is a trip to one of the world’s most biodiverse and fiercely protected natural wonders on the planet. Costa Rica has it all: tropical beaches with world-class waves, towering volcanoes, dense jungles, exotic wildlife, and so much more. While we want you to surf as much as possible on your trip to Costa Rica, we also encourage you to get out and explore all that Costa Rica has to offer. If you’ve never visited Costa Rica, you’re in for a treat. Continue reading below for How to Plan the Ultimate Costa Rica Vacation. 

Costa Rica at a Glance

Nestled in the heart of Central America, Costa Rica is a small yet captivating country renowned for its unparalleled biodiversity and commitment to environmental conservation. Despite occupying only 0.03% of the Earth’s surface, Costa Rica boasts nearly 6% of the world’s biodiversity, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and eco-tourists. This tiny nation is home to over 500,000 species, comprising a stunning array of flora and fauna, including 250 species of mammals, 850 species of birds, and thousands of plant species. Costa Rica’s dedication to preserving its natural treasures is evident in its extensive network of national parks, reserves, and protected areas, which cover over 25% of its territory. The country’s progressive environmental policies, such as its goal to become carbon neutral by 2050 and its ambitious reforestation efforts, have garnered international acclaim. 

Planning Your Costa Rica Vacation 

costa rica surf map
Blank physical map of Costa Rica.Equirectangular projection

Costa Rica is served by two major international airports: Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in San José and Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in Liberia, Guanacaste. From SJO, it’s a 4 to 5-hour drive to reach our Costa Rica surf school in Nosara, while from LIR, it takes about 2 to 3 hours. If you’re staying with us, we include round trip airport transfer as part of our service. Once you arrive, transportation options include renting a car, taking public buses, shuttles, or domestic flights to explore the country. Keep in mind that some areas, like Nosara, may require a 4WD vehicle due to unpaved roads. Regardless of your choice, expect unforgettable adventures and warm hospitality as you delve into the wonders of Costa Rica’s landscapes and culture.

Where to Travel in Costa Rica 

Safari Surf guests love the local waterfalls in Nosara

For surfers of all levels, the Guanacaste region offers a wave-rich coastline, with Nosara standing out as a premier destination. Nestled along the Pacific coast, Nosara offers travelers pristine beaches, consistent swells, and a laid-back atmosphere that beckons both beginners and seasoned surfers alike. Our Costa Rica surf school provides the perfect base for riding the waves and immersing yourself in the local surf culture. Beyond surfing, Costa Rica offers a wealth of ecological tourism hubs waiting to be explored. From the majestic Arenal Volcano to the cloud forests of Monteverde and the biodiverse wonders of Manuel Antonio National Park, there’s no shortage of natural beauty to discover. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping adventures or serene encounters with wildlife, Costa Rica promises an unforgettable journey filled with excitement and awe-inspiring landscapes.

Our Ideal Costa Rica Vacation 

surfer at sunset

Our Ideal Costa Rica Vacation has a little bit of everything, from soaking in the hot springs at Volcán Arenal to catching waves at Playa Guiones. We recommended picking one non-surf destination, whether Volcán Arenal for the hot springs and volcano hikes, Monteverde for the canopy tours, or Manuel Antonio National Park to spot exotic wildlife.  

Let the team at Safari Surf plan your perfect Costa Rica vacation. Head to our website to book the trip of a lifetime. We’ll see you in the water. 

Celebrating 25 Years of Safari Surf: A Look Back at Our History of Our Costa Rica Surf School 

safari surf school group

While it’s hard to believe it’s been so long, 2024 marks the 25th anniversary of Safari Surf School. Tim and Marsi first traveled to Costa Rica in 1995, and we were immediately enamored with the country’s natural beauty and the kindness of its people. A lot has changed since the first iteration of Safari Surf School opened its doors; we’ve moved locations, grown tremendously, opened two successive surf schools in Panama and Ecuador, and cemented our Costa Rica surf school as a staple of the community in Costa Rica. As we celebrate our 25 years of operation in Costa Rica, we want to reflect on how far we’ve come. Continue reading below for Celebrating 25 Years of Safari Surf: A Look Back at Our History of Our Costa Rica Surf School.

Arriving in Costa Rica

Safari Surf School

Tim and Marsi first set foot on Costa Rican soil in 1995; the rest is history. The couple immediately fell in love with the vibrant land, people, and, of course, the surf. The following year, the duo returned and bought a small market in the tiny fishing and beach community in Garza. Tim and Marsi worked the market and lived above the store. While it seemed to be a dream scenario, the slow season proved to be just that, and before long, Tim and Marsi returned to their lives in the States. Two years later, in 1997, Marsi was pregnant, and Tim decided to get a stable job in the mortgage business. Even with a new baby, house, and a Range Rover, Tim felt something was missing. These feelings grew when Tim ran into an old friend who had started a California surf school and was spending his days at the beach. So, Tim called his brother, who was living in Costa Rica, and pitched an idea— a Costa Rica surf school. 

The Start of Something Special 

Tim and Marsi

While the first few years of operations were touch and go, and everyone involved had to do a bit of everything, they built a reputation of excellence in Nosara over time. Safari Surf School became the go-to surf school for travelers from all walks of life. Soon, Safari had built a loyal clientele with returning customers who sought out their favorite instructors. The team at Safari Surf is entirely local, from the management to the surf instructors. No one knows the waters of Playa Guiones better than the Safari Surf team, and there’s no better way to see Costa Rica than through the eyes of a local. 

The Evolution of Our Costa Rica Surf School 

As our Costa Rica Surf School grew, we realized it was time for a change. Tim put together a business plan and presented it to a small group of loyal guests who expressed interest in investing. The team raised capital, found property, and began the new chapter of Safari Surf.  Our Costa Rica surf school operated out of a small house on the property while our dream property, Olas Verdes, was being built. 

The Legacy Continues 

Surf and fishing packages

After years of successful operations in Costa Rica, we expanded our operations at Safari Surf. We scoured the globe for a destination that reminded us of our roots in Playa Guiones but still had an independent culture and identity. After leaving no stone unturned and much deliberation, we settled on a little slice of paradise known as Playa Venao, Panama. Our Panama Surf School is an extension of everything we do in Costa Rica, and we love our Safari Surf Panama team. After a successful expansion to Panama, we stumbled across the charming town of Ayampe, Ecuador, and knew we had to be part of the community there. And so, Safari Surf Ecuador was born. 

We could not have imagined a better way to spend a quarter of a century than building Safari Surf School into what it is today. Now, with teams across three countries and too many favorite guests to count, we’re taking a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come and get ready for what’s ahead.