Intermediate Surf Maneuvers 101


At Safari Surf School, we host surf travelers of every level, from total beginners to experienced chargers. No matter what level of surfer you are, we can help you improve, whether you’re a total novice who wants to catch your first wave or an advanced surfer looking to perfect your cutback. If you’re an intermediate or advanced surfer, a surf trip to Costa Rica is what you need to take your surfing to the next level. Read below for some of our favorite intermediate maneuvers in Intermediate Surf Maneuvers 101.

Intermediate Surf Maneuvers


intermediate surf Maneuvers floater

What is a Floater? A floater is an intermediate surf maneuver where the surfer rides over the top of a breaking wave. It’s a stylish move that requires timing, balance, and control.

How to Perform a Floater:

  1. Approach the Section: As you ride down the line, look for a section of the wave about to break.
  2. Bottom Turn: Perform a solid bottom turn to generate speed and angle your board towards the top of the wave.
  3. Ride Over the Lip: As you reach the lip, lift your board’s nose slightly and let the momentum carry you over the breaking wave.
  4. Stay Centered: Keep your weight centered over your board and your knees slightly bent to maintain balance.
  5. Re-enter the Wave: As you come down from the floater, guide your board back down into the wave and continue riding.

Tips for Success:

  • Timing is crucial; aim to reach the lip just as it begins to break.
  • Keep your eyes on the wave ahead to anticipate the next section.


Surfing Cutback

What is a Cutback? A cutback is an intermediate surf maneuver that allows a surfer to turn back toward the pocket of the wave.

How to Perform a Cutback:

  1. Generate Speed: Start by generating speed down the line with powerful pumps and bottom turns.
  2. Initiate the Turn: As you reach the open face of the wave, shift your weight onto your back foot and initiate the turn. Begin the turn by rotating your leading hand in the path of the turn, followed by your head / Gaze. In surfing, your head is essentially the steering wheel; your body will follow where you turn and look. Once your head turns, rotate your shoulders and then hips.  
  3. Carve Back: Lean into the turn, using your shoulders and hips to guide the board through a smooth, arcing motion.
  4. Hit the Foam: Aim to hit the whitewater or the pocket of the wave, which helps to maintain momentum and sets you up for the next section.
  5. Re-engage the Rail: Shift your weight forward slightly and re-engage the rail to continue down the line.

Tips for Success:

  • Initiate your turn with your leading hand.
  • Use your arms to help guide and balance your turn.
  • Focus on smooth, controlled movements rather than forcing the turn.


surfing snap

What is a Snap? A snap, or re-entry, is a quick, explosive turn off the top of the wave. It’s a dynamic intermediate surf maneuver that allows surfers to carry speed down the line.

How to Perform a Snap:

  1. Gain Speed: Generate speed down the line to set up for the snap.
  2. Coil Your Body: As you enter your bottom turn, pre-coil your body in anticipation of the approaching lip.
  3. Approach the Lip: Perform a bottom turn to angle your board towards the lip of the wave. As you come out of your bottom turn, immediately spot the section of the lip you aim to hit.
  4. Explosive Turn: As you rise up the wave, initiate your turn so you complete the turn when you reach the top of the wave. Quickly shift your weight onto your back foot and pivot the board sharply back towards the wave.
  5. Kick the Tail: At the peak of your turn, use your back foot to kick the tail of the board out and generate spray.
  6. Recover and Continue: Re-center your weight and guide your board back down the wave to continue your ride.

Tips for Success:

  • Timing and speed are critical; aim to perform the snap at the steepest part of the wave.
  • Keep your movements quick and precise to execute a clean snap.

Mastering advanced surf maneuvers like floaters, cutbacks, snaps, and more will improve your comfort and confidence in the water. Practice makes perfect, so spend time refining each maneuver, and don’t be afraid to push your limits. Nothing is better for your surfing than taking a surf trip and surfing every day. Head to our website to book your next surf trip.

Safari Surf School Presents: The History of Surfing in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Surfing

If you’ve visited our Costa Rica surf school recently, it may be impossible to imagine a time when surfing wasn’t part of Costa Rica’s culture. Surfing and the Pura Vida lifestyle go hand in hand. Every flight to Costa Rica is full of surfers and lugging board bags through the airport, but that was not always the case. Surfing, while an ancient sport, was only popularized in the US in the forties and fifties and reached the shores of Costa Rica in the sixties. Today, surfing is ingrained in daily life here in Nosara, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Continue reading below for The History of Surfing in Costa Rica.

The Beginning

1960s surfing

Surfing in Costa Rica has a relatively recent history compared to other surf destinations like Hawaii and California. The sport began to gain popularity in Costa Rica during the 1960s and 1970s when adventurous surfers from the United States started exploring Central America in search of uncharted waves. At a time when the country’s coast lacked any real infrastructure, a surf trip to Costa Rica was a true adventure.

The 1960s: Discovery and Exploration

1960s Surfing

American surfers were fed up with the growing crowds at their home breaks in California and Hawaii and began to search for new, untouched waves in Costa Rica. Costa Rica’s warm waters and consistent swell were a welcome sight. These travelers eventually left surfboards in the country, which allowed a local surf community to flourish.

The 1970s: The Surfing Community Takes Root

1970s Surfing

During the 1970s, more surfers from around the world continued to explore Costa Rica’s coastlines. They discovered now-famous surf towns like Jaco, Tamarindo, and Pavones. While local participation was still limited, these areas gained popularity among international surfers for their consistent swell, remoteness, and stunning natural beauty.

The 1980s: Surfing in Costa Rica Continues to Grow

1980s surfing

By the 1980s, Costa Rica had developed basic surfing infrastructure. Small coastal towns began to host traveling surfers regularly. Hotels and even surf shops began to open, and surf tourism contributed to the local economy for the first time. Costa Rica’s consistent waves and relatively uncrowded beaches started to attract international surfers. Articles and features in surf magazines brought further attention to the region.

The 1990s: Surfing Boom

Endless Summer II

In 1991, the now-celebrated surf film Endless Summer II showcased many of Guanacaste’s near-perfect waves, including Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point. The movie cemented Costa Rica as one of the world’s premier surf destinations. Shortly after, the country experienced a boom in surf tourism, and surf schools and camps began to emerge.

2000s to Present: A Surfing Mecca

surfer at sunset

Costa Rica has become a model for sustainable surf tourism, and Nosara is leading the charge. Efforts to protect the environment and preserve the natural beauty of surf spots have been crucial. Today, Costa Rica is recognized globally as one of the top surfing destinations. Its consistent waves, warm waters, and welcoming culture attract surfers of all levels year-round. The surf culture in Costa Rica is now a blend of local and international influences, with a strong emphasis on community and environmental stewardship.

Nosara has developed as one of Costa Rica’s top destinations for surfers of all levels. Whether you’re an experienced charger or a first-time surfer looking for a new passion, a trip to Safari Surf School offers the perfect opportunity to hone your skills, enjoy consistent waves, and immerse yourself in the Pura Vida lifestyle.