Safari Surf Presents the Ultimate Ecuador Travel Guide

Ecuador Travel

Ecuador is a one-of-a-kind travel destination that needs to be seen to be believed, home to the Galapagos Islands, towering snowcapped mountains, charming colonial towns, world-class surf, and the dense Amazon jungle. While Ecuador is one of our favorite surf trip locations and home to the newest Safari Surf iteration, our Ecuador surf school, there’s much more to the country than just the waves. If you’re looking for a buck-list trip that’s full of adventure, good surf, and friendly locals, head to Ecuador. Continue reading below as we outline the ins and outs of Ecuador travel in Safari Surf Presents the Ultimate Ecuador Travel Guide.

How to Get to Ecuador

Flying to Ecuador

Ecuador has two major international airports, Quito International Airport and Aeropuerto Simon Bolivar in Guayaquil. Most major international airlines fly to Ecuador via Quito. Once you’re in Ecuador, traveling around the country is easy by plane, especially if you plan on visiting the Galapagos islands or the Amazon. Regional flights can be booked through TAME, LATM, Avianca, and a few other regional airlines.

Where to Travel in Ecuador

Mountains in Ecuador

If you’re looking to travel to Ecuador, you’ve got options. Ecuador has it all, from surfing and mountain climbing to scuba diving, historic colonial towns, and the Amazon Rainforest. Ecuador offers a diverse selection of travel experiences that are unique to the country, and it would truly take a lifetime to tackle them all. If you’re traveling to Ecuador, pick a region or activity and dive deep.

To Discover Darwin’s World

Galapagos Islands
Image Credit: Travel & Leisure

Ecuador is perhaps most famous as the home to the Galapagos Islands. Located roughly 600 miles off the Ecuadorean coast in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Galapagos Islands are a volcanic archipelago of 127 tropical islands that house some of the world’s most unique endemic species, like the Galapagos Penguins, Giant Tortoises, and Sea Iguanas. The many endemic species across the Galapagos Islands helped Charles Darwin propose his theory of evolution in 1859.

To Conquer Mountains

Cotopaxi
Image Credit: Much Better Adventures

While most people think of Ecuador as a tropical paradise and home to the Galapagos Islands, it’s also one of South America’s premier mountaineering destinations. Ecuador is home to 1,289 named mountains, the tallest and most prominent of which is Chimborazo (6,268m/20,564ft). Ecuador’s tallest mountains can be found within the Sierra region of the country, which includes the provinces of Zamora Chinchipe, Loja, Azuay, Cañar, Chimborazo, Tungurahua, Napo, Carchi, Imbabura, Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Bolívar, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, and Los Ríos. Cotopaxi National Park is one of the country’s most popular mountain areas offering hiking and mountaineering. Parque Nacional Cotopaxi contains eight mountains, the highest of which is Cotopaxi, standing at a whopping 19,347 feet.

To Explore the Amazon

Ecuador Amazon
Image Credit: Explorers Away

To explore a wealth of biodiversity deep in the Amazon jungle, head to the Yasuni National Park, located in Napo and Pastaza provinces. The Ecuadorian Amazon sits at 1300 feet above sea level and stretches over a vast swath of the eastern part of the country, spanning six provinces and 40% of the entire country. The Ecuadorian Amazon is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Visit the Peruvian Amazon between December and May to see the region with slightly less rainfall.

To Surf Ecuador’s World-Class Waves

Ecuador surfing

It’s no secret that Ecuador is home to several world-class waves. Travelers planning on going surfing in Ecuador can choose from four surf regions: North (Mompiche to Bahia de Caraquez), Central (Manta Zone), Baja Manabi, and South (Las Salinas to Montanita). Our Ecuador surf school is located in the Baja Manabi Zone, just south of Parque Nacional Machalilla. While Ecuador has year-round surf, the primary season for surfing in Ecuador falls between December and April, when northwest swells are abundant in the Pacific. Winds during the swell season are predominately light or offshore, making it the ideal time of year for clean conditions. Our Ecuador surf school is located in the tiny, charming town of Ayampe, where lively tropical waters collide with stunning beaches, a dense jungle, and friendly locals and ex-pats. Ayampe is an idyllic laid-back surf town in the Baja Manabi Zone that is home to one of the country’s most consistent beach breaks. Ayampe reminds us a lot of how Nosara was 20 years ago. The wave at Ayampe works well during both north and south swells, making it the ideal destination for surfing in Ecuador at any time of year

To learn more about our Ecuador surf school, head to our website. Stay tuned to the Safari Surf blog for more surf and travel news. 

Panama Surf Seasons: Decoding the Best Time of Year to Surf Panama

playa venao surf camp

Surfers have been chasing waves in Central America for decades. The sliver of land that connects North and South America has two dualling coastlines that each produce flawless surf and attract traveling surfers from all over the world. While most travelers focus their wave hunting on Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Panama has proven to be a worthwhile surf trip destination with world-class waves on both the Pacific and Caribbean Coasts, friendly locals, an incredible amount of biodiversity, and some of the most immaculate beaches in the world. While Panama has quality surf all year, each season brings something different. If you’re wondering when you should plan your Panama surf trip, continue reading below for Panama Surf Seasons: Decoding the Best Time of Year to Surf Panama. 

Best Panama Surf Season for Beginner and Intermediate Surfers 

Panama surf classes for kids

If you’re traveling to Panama’s Pacific Coast to learn to surf, visit during the Dry Season, which falls between October and April. During the Dry Season, you can expect cloudless blue skies, gentle offshore breezes, and small to fun-sized surf. While there’s still plenty of swell during the Dry Season, you’re unlikely to encounter overhead and above the surf, which would sideline most beginner and intermediate surfers. In addition to friendlier wave sizes, the Dry Season also sees cleaner wave conditions, thanks to the gentle offshore breeze that blows nearly all day during the height of the Dry Season. If you’re after learner-friendly Panama surf, head to Panama’s Pacific Coast during the Dry Season. 

Panama Pacific Coast Swell Season 

Surf School Panama

If you’re a high-level intermediate or advanced surfer looking to make the most of the Panama surf, head to Panama during the Rainy Season to chase large south swells on the Pacific Coast. The Rainy Season falls between May and September and is considered Central America’s official swell season. During the Rainy Season, powerful south swells form in Antarctica and travel up the Pacific Coast to Panama’s south-facing coastline. Premier waves on the Pacific Coast, like Playa Venao and Santa Catalina, come to life during the summer months. New surfers traveling to Playa Venao during the Rainy Season won’t be out of their league, thanks to the protected corners of the cove that have learner-friendly waves all year long. 

Panama Caribbean Coast Swell Season

Bocas Del Toro Surfing
Image Credit: Surfline

Panama’s Caribbean Coast is home to the world-renowned surf destination, Bocas del Toro. Bocas Del Toro is an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, home to white sand beaches, pristine coral reefs, and world-class waves. Bocas Del Toro is an ideal surf destination for advanced surfers looking to chase warm water barrels that break over lively reefs. Bocas is an island community where you travel by water taxi to and from different islands and waves. Because of its location in the Caribbean Sea, the swell season in Bocas coincides with the Dry Season and the North American winter. During the winter, storms form off the coast of Canada and travel down the coast of the United States before reaching the Caribbean Sea, where they collide with the reefs in Bocas to form world-class surf. To chase Panama surf in the Caribbean book a winter trip and follow a swell down to Bocas del Toro. 

To book your Panama surf trip and learn more about our Panama surf school in Playa Venao, head to our website. Stay tuned to the Safari surf blog for more surf and travel news. 

Everything You Need to Know About Surfing in Ecuador

Surfing in Ecuador

Known as the “Heart of the Earth,” Ecuador is home to a diverse landscape that includes towering mountain peaks, dense jungle, tropical beaches, and some of the best waves on the planet. Our Ecuador surf school is located in the tiny, charming town of Ayampe, where lively tropical waters collide with stunning beaches, a dense jungle, and friendly locals and ex-pats.

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The Safari Surf Guide to Where to Surf in Panama

Surf School Panama

At the bottom of Central America, Panama winds and weaves between the powerful Pacific Ocean and the electric blue Caribbean for a combined 1,547 miles of dualling coastlines. Between the Caribbean and the Pacific coasts, Panama possesses dozens of world-class waves that each break in warm, tropical water.

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Safari Surf Presents Wave Riding 101: A Beginners Guide to Learning to Surf

surfing in Costa Rica
surfing in Costa Rica

If you’re reading this, you likely have never surfed before, but something about wave riding has piqued your interest just enough to do a bit of research. If learning to surf is on your bucket list, but you have no idea where to begin, you’ve come to the right place. Safari Surf School has been in the business of teaching surfing for nearly three decades. Our surf school doesn’t just cater to tourists on the beach looking for a photo op. We create lifelong surfers who develop a deep passion for wave riding and continue to progress along their surfing journey long after they depart. If you have a passion for the ocean and are ready to begin your surfing journey, continue reading below for Safari Surf Presents Wave Riding 101: A Beginners Guide to Learning to Surf.

What is Surfing?

surfer paddling

Surfing is the act of riding breaking waves using a specifically designed board in the ocean or other large bodies of water. Unlike other popular forms of wave riding, surfing involves standing while riding along the face of the wave. Surfers paddle into waves in a prone position and pop up to their feet as the wave catches them. No matter how progressive surfing becomes, the majority of surf maneuvers are designed to keep the surfer in the pocket of the waves, right in front of the breaking white water moving laterally along the wave’s face.

Learning to Surf (the Right Way)

Learning to surf

Every day, hundreds (if not thousands) of new surfers paddle out to lineups all over the planet. Surfers who have never ridden waves before, taken a lesson or been schooled in proper surf etiquette all too often find themselves surfing amongst experienced surfers at advanced waves. To the outsider, surfing may seem insular or even exclusionary, thanks to concepts like localism. These concepts, however, exist to keep surfers safe. If you’re learning to surf, follow these simple steps to ensure you’re learning to surf the right way.

  1. Surf at the Right Wave for Your Skill Level

Too often new surfers paddle out to waves that are well out of their league and endanger themselves and those around you. Avoid this situation by paddling out to a mellow beginner wave. A beginner wave should have a gentle slope, break in a protected cove or beach with relatively small surf, and be far removed from advanced surfers.

2. Use the Right Equipment

New surfers should paddle out on soft top boards that allow them to learn to surf safely. Using a foam board, rather than a traditional fiberglass board, will allow the surfer to surf carefree without worrying about injuring themselves or anyone else when they fall.

3. Take a Lesson

Learning to surf can be a long and difficult process, especially without proper instruction. Taking a surf lesson with a qualified surf instructor will not only keep you safe during your first session, but it will also give you the skills and knowledge you need to progress as a surfer.

4. Learn Surf Etiquette

Surf Etiquette is critical and universal to all lineups. From Indonesia to California, surf etiquette is the same. Learning proper surf etiquette will allow you to seamlessly enter any surf lineup that’s suited to your skill level.

Finding the Right Surf School

Not all surf schools are created equal. The Ideal surf school should take you to a perfect beginner wave, have ISA-accredited surf instructors, and, above all else, have a deep passion for surfing. If you’re serious about learning to surf, why not immerse yourself in it with a surf trip? Surf trips allow you to go all in on surfing for the duration of your trip with a visit to Safari Surf in Costa Rica, Panama, or Ecuador. During your stay, you’ll travel to an exotic location with warm water and surf perfect waves for a week or more under the guidance of the best surf instructors in the business.

Kickstart your surfing journey with a stay at Safari Surf. To find out more about our surf school and what it takes to learn to surf, head to our website. Stay tuned to the Safari Surf blog for more surf tips, travel news, and all things Costa Rica.  

Surf Etiquette 101: Decoding the Unwritten Rules of the Lineup

surfer paddling
women's surf and yoga retreat in Costa Rica

Learning to surf can feel intimidating. Navigating the politics of a surf lineup and understanding its unwritten rules isn’t something that comes naturally to most surfers. Surf etiquette is something that is taught and learned. Surf Etiquette is something that every surfer should take the time to understand, and something every surf school should implement into its teachings. While the unwritten rules of the lineup are often overlooked in surf lessons, we at Safari Surf believe they are vital to surf progression and our student’s safety in the water. If you’re new to surfing, take the time to familiarize yourself with the unwritten rules of the lineup by continuing to read below.

Surf Etiquette Rule #1: Understand Priority

Safari Surf School guests having a great experience

Understanding priority in surf lineups is fundamental to surfing in crowded lineups. Without a priority system, every wave would be flooded with surfers all vying for their chance at a clean ride. Thanks to the system in place, it’s universal that one surfer rides each wave. When vying for position while paddling for a wave, the surfer closest to the peak of the wave has priority. Those outside of the peak, or down the line must yield to the surfer at the peak. If the wave is an a-frame and has both a right and a left, surfers closest to the peak may split the peak.

Always Be Aware of Your Equipment

surf etiquette lesson

While the ocean may feel dangerous at times, the most dangerous thing in any given surf lineup is the other surfers and their surfboards. Proper surf etiquette dictates that surfers must always be mindful of their boards. Being mindful of your board means not ditching your board in a crowded lineup when an incoming set approaches or kicking out of a wave and launching your board in the air. Do your best to stay in control when duck diving, turtle rolling, and kicking out of waves.

Don’t Snake/ Back Paddle

surfer paddling

Having the inside track to the peak of the wave guarantees you priority, but snaking/backpaddling someone to get there is a serious violation of surf etiquette. If you have to loop around another surfer to get to the peak while paddling for the same wave, the wave belongs to the other surfer. Snaking is a surefire way to get on an entire lineup’s nerves and can even get you sent to the beach with a few stern words.

Respect locals

Safari Surf Schools instructors are all certified surf coaches and lifeguard certified

If you’re traveling to surf, understand that you’re a visitor. Locals will be more than happy to share waves if you show them respect. Respect the locals by not paddling straight out to the peak, waiting for your turn patiently, and giving off positive energy with smiles, hellos, and good mornings. As a visiting surfer in a new lineup, it’s always a good idea to watch a few sets before paddling for a wave to get a lay of the land.

Know When to Paddle Out (and when not to)

surfing getting barrelled

As a new surfer, it’s critical to understand your place in the lineup and your own limitations. Every surfer, even those with years of experience, has limits and knows when to stay on the beach. If the waves are out of your comfort zone, there’s no shame in not paddling out. Paddling out in conditions that far exceed your skill level will not only endanger yourself but those around you as well.

At our Costa Rica Surf School, surf etiquette is an integral part of our surf lesson program. We are in the business of creating lifelong, passionate surfers, not vacation photo ops. If you’re ready to learn to surf, head to our website to book your stay. Stay tuned to the Safari Surf School blog for more surf tips, travel news, and all things Costa Rica.

The Best Nosara, Costa Rica Tours and Activities for When You’re Not Surfing

catch your own dinner in Panama
catch your own dinner in Panama

If you’re visiting us in Playa Guiones, chances are, you’re here to surf. As much as we wish we could spend our entire days in the water surfing, it’s just not feasible. Fortunately, there’s a lot to do in Nosara and around Playa Guiones to keep our guests busy. There’s something for everyone here in Nosara, whether you want to explore Costa Rica’s abundant natural wonders, shop the Nosara boutiques, or have an adrenaline-filled adventure. To find out more about what to do in Nosara, continue reading below for The Best Nosara, Costa Rica Tours and Activities for When You’re Not Surfing.

Costa Rica Tours for the Adventurous: Nature Tours

Costa Rica Wildlife tour

Costa Rica is known as a nature lovers’ paradise. Our small country takes up only 0.3% of the earth’s surface but contains over 5% of the world’s biodiversity. Costa Rica is home to over 500,000 species. With over 900 species of birds, four monkey species, both two and three-toed sloths, a plethora of crocodiles and caiman, and more, it’s easy to see why people travel from all over the world to experience Costa Rica’s wildlife firsthand. For a quick trip into the exotic, head to the Nosara Biological Reserve for a hike. This 90-acre private nature reserve lets you explore mangrove wetlands and dry tropical rainforests, where you’ll find howler monkeys, iguanas, coatis, and hundreds of species of birds. If you want to explore Costa Rica’s wildlife further, head to Palo Verde National Park.

Costa Rica Tours for Anglers: Deep Sea Fishing

Captain Alonso on Safari Surf Schools Vilocity Boat

If you’d rather spend your time off a surfboard exploring the depths of the Pacific by boat and trolling for trophy fish, you’ve come to the right place. Safari Surf can set you up with Nosara’s best ship captains and fishing boats for an unforgettable day on the water. Fish for Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and even Blue Marlin. The waters off the coast of Guanacaste are some of the liveliest in all of Central America. Costa Rica’s sport fishing is world-renowned and well worth trying. Catch your dinner and spend the day on the water!

Snorkeling in Nosara

Costa ica Snorkeling

Playa Guiones may be known for its world-class surf, but there’s plenty to do in the water beyond just surfing. If you’re interested in exploring the world beneath the ocean’s surface, we’ll set you up with a snorkeling charter where you’ll head to the crystal-clear waters offshore to explore lively reef systems.

Whale Watching & Dolphin Tours in Costa Rica

swim with dolphins in costa rica

Another great way to spend a day on the water apart from surfing is to charter a dolphin and whale watching tour. Our Costa Rica surf school sits right on an active stretch of the Pacific Ocean where migrating Humpback and Pilot Whales are frequently spotted. Dolphin and whale watching tours leave from Garza Beach and head 6 to 8 miles out to sea to get up close and personal with these beautiful animals. Chances of spotting dolphins and whales are high year-round, but your best bet is to go when Humpbacks migrate through the region during August-October and December-April.

Take a Sunset Sail

surf and relax trip

End your day on the water with the wind in your hair and a cold drink in your hand. Daily sunset boat tours are available for groups of up to 8 people. With a sunset boat tour, you’ll receive to and from the boat launch, beers, margaritas, waters, snacks, fruit, and an

Inflatable floating lounge.

Explore Nosara and Playa Guiones by ATV

get lost ...Nosara, Costa Rica

Take a 4×4 excursion in Nosara to explore the nearby jungles and rivers. Navigate the country roads around Nosara by ATV and get up close and personal with the surrounding jungle. There are several ATV tour options, including coffee tours, jungle tours, and more.

Whatever adventure you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Nosara. Join us in Costa Rica for surf lessons and so much more. To book your Costa Rica surf lessons and your Nosara vacation, head to our website.

The Safari Surf Guide to the Best Restaurants in Nosara, Costa Rica

Restaurants in Nosara, Costa Rica
Restaurants in Nosara, Costa Rica

Eating in Costa Rica has changed a lot in recent years. Costa Rica has always been known as a hotbed for Latin cuisine that is dominated by fresh fruits, abundant fish, and classic dishes like Gallo Pinto. In the last 10 years, Costa Rica, and Nosara specifically, have undergone a cultural revolution. Nosara has become one of the world’s most desirable health and wellness destinations, and with that title comes a whirlwind of international influence that’s most noticeable while roaming the dirt roads around town looking for a meal. If you’re planning to visit Nosara, bring your appetite. Continue reading below for The Safari Surf Guide to the Best Restaurants in Nosara, Costa Rica.

Best Restaurants in Nosara for Casual Dinning: Beach Dog Café

Beach Dog Cafe Nosara

Located just before the path to Playa Guiones down the road from the Sunset Shack Hotel, Beach Dog Café is one of Nosara’s most iconic restaurants. Serving casual yet delicious meals like burritos, fish tacos, burgers, and more, the Beach Dog Café is perfect for a quick lunch or a laid-back dinner. With live music on the weekends and an extensive cocktail menu, it’s easy to kick back and stay for a while.

Best Coffee in Nosara: Olo Alaia Surf & Brew

Olo Alaia Surf & Brew

If you’re in Playa Guiones searching for a pick-me-up, head to Olo Alaia Surf & Brew. While it’s technically not a restaurant, Ola Alaia still makes our list of the Best Restaurants in Nosara thanks to its killer combination of great coffee, unique surf crafts and supplies, and trendy clothing. Ola Alaia is one part craft coffee shop, one part surf shop, and one part boutique clothing store. Whether you’re looking for a cappuccino or a new board, Ola Alaia’s vibe and service cannot be beaten.

Best Local Meal in Nosara: Rosie Soda Tica

Rosie Soda Tica's Nosara

If you’re looking for an authentic Tico meal, you can’t go wrong with Rosie Soda Tica. With two locations in the Playa Guiones area, Rosie Soda Ticas has become a staple of the community through its delicious local offerings with backpacker budget-friendly prices. Try a traditional Gallo Pinto for breakfast or fresh fish for lunch. Rosie’s is open from 8 AM – 3 PM each day and is the perfect post-surf stop.

Best Restaurant with a View: La Luna

La Luna Nosara Costa Rica

La Luna offers guests exceptional views with beachfront dining and a sophisticated menu featuring brick oven pizzas, decadent salads, fresh seafood, and an extensive international wine list. As one of the only on-the-sand dining options in Nosara, La Luna is the ideal spot for date night or sunset cocktails.

Best Cocktails in Nosara: Howler’s Beach Lounge

Howler’s Beach Lounge

For craft cocktails and a relaxed yet refined atmosphere, head to Howler’s Beach Lounge. With a tropical ambiance and elevated cocktails and tapas menu, you won’t be disappointed. Meet friends for an evening cocktail, or head there for a post-surf snack. Howler’s Beach Lounge is a great spot to meet friends for a drink, bring a date, or just relax and people-watch with a good book in one hand and a cocktail in the other. 

Best Pizza in Nosara: Guiones Brew

Guiones Brew Nosara

Just because you’re in the jungle doesn’t mean you can’t find good pizza. Head to Guiones Brew, where you’ll find the perfect combination of fresh ingredients and innovative menu items. Pick from classic Italian favorites like prosciutto and pesto, or sample something different inspired by local flavors like honey and cashew. With arguably the best pizza in the Guiones area and a stellar craft beer menu, Guiones Brew is a must-try for pizza lovers in Nosara.

Work up an appetite with surf lessons in Nosara through our Costa Rica surf school, Safari Surf! Stay tuned to our blog for all things surfing and Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Surf Travel 101: Where to Find the Country’s Best Waves

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

Surfers have been flocking to Costa Rica since the late 1960s. After the popular surf movie Endless Summer II showcased point break perfection at Ollie’s Point and Witch’s Rock in 1994, the secret was out, and surfers started pouring into the country like never before. With warm water, year-round swell, friendly locals, untouched jungle, and pristine beaches, what’s not to love? Costa Rica has surf on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, but the Pacific side sees year-round swell. With over 630 miles of Pacific coastline, it can be hard to know where to start. Fortunately for surf travelers everywhere, our team at Safari Surf has compiled the ultimate Costa Rica surf guide. Continue reading below for Costa Rica Surf Travel 101: Where to Find the Country’s Best Waves.

Costa Rica Surf Regions         

Guanacaste 

Costa Rica Surfing
Image Credit: Surfline

Guanacaste is Costa Rica’s northernmost province on the west coast. Guanacaste was originally part of Nicaragua but voted to join Costa Rica in 1824. It’s never been easier to travel to Guanacaste, thanks to the international airport in Liberia. Guanacaste is home surf towns like our very own Nosara and Tamarindo. The premier surf breaks in Guanacaste include Playa Guiones, Witch’s Rock, Ollie’s Point, Playa Grande, and many more. 

The Nicoya Peninsula 

Surfing the nicoya peninsula
Image Credit: Lush Palm

Further south, the Nicoya Peninsula juts out and separates the Northern Costa Rican coast from the rest of the country. The Nicoya Peninsula is home to the well-known surf towns of Mal Pais and Playa Santa Teresa. Santa Teresa has boomed in the last few years. What was once a sleepy surf town is now full of trendy shops and restaurants. The area offers stunning scenery and a combination of beach and reef breaks. 

Central Costa Rica 

surfing playa hermosa
Image Credit: Surfline

The central Costa Rican Coast is the easiest to access from the capital of San José. Home to Coca Barranca, Jaco, and Playa Heromasa, the Central Costa Rican coastline boasts some of the best big wave spots in all of Costa Rica. During large swells, head to the river mouth at Boca Barranca or Playa Hermosa. If you can brave the strong rips and make it out to the lineup, you’ll find some of the best big waves in all of Costa Rica. 

Southern Costa Rica

surf costa rica pavones
Image Credit: Surfline

Southern Costa Rica is rugged and rural compared to the north, but it’s also home to some of the best Costa Rica surf. While the southern coast lacks the consistency of Guanacaste or the central coast, with a good swell, the region produces some of the best waves on the planet. Pavones is that wave. Pavones is an endless left-hand point break that seems to break flawlessly for hundreds of meters. 

The Caribbean Coast 

surfing costa rica
Image Credit: Surfline

Costa Rica’s eastern coast has the tropical feel of any Caribbean destination, with electric blue water and warm sunny skies. The Costa Rica surf on the east coast is far less reliable than the surf on the west. Most swells occur during the winter, and most waves break over sharp reef. Still, the region is home to a few world-class setups, like Salsa Bravas, known for steep drops and gaping barrels. 

When to surf in Costa Rica 

Costa Rica has consistent surf all year, but each season (Dry and Rainy) brings different conditions. The Rainy Season, which falls from April until September, is considered swell season. During the Rainy Season, surfers can expect consistent large surf with all spots firing. The Dry Season, which falls from October until March, sees a decrease in swell size but an increase in offshore winds, thanks to the Popogoyo winds. During the Dry Season, surfers can expect small clean waves, perfect for learning and progression. 

Thinking about a Costa Rica surf trip? Our Costa Rica surf school has what it takes to take your surfing to the next level. Join us for surf lessons, surf guiding, and other Costa Rica Adventures.  

Revisiting Safari Surf History: 24 Years of Costa Rica Surf School Excellence

Safari Surf School

Our return guests likely know the Safari Surf story, but for those who don’t, we’ve decided to revisit our history as we continue to grow our business operations in Costa Rica and beyond. Safari Surf School, Nosara’s premier Costa Rica surf school, began decades ago, born out of a passion for surfing and a love for Costa Rica, its land, waves, and people. For many, the idea of starting a business in a foreign country is a distant dream that never materializes. For Tim Marsh and Marsi, our founders, it was inevitable. Dive in below to find out how it all began and learn the history of our Costa Rica surf school.

The Beginning

Costa Rica Surf Travel

After traveling to Costa Rica to surf in 1995 and falling in love with the country and its waves, Tim and Marsi returned the following year and bought a small market in Garza, where they lived and worked. Making a living selling sandwiches to traveling surfers and fishermen while living on the beach seemed like a dream, but the slow season proved too much to bear, and Tim and Marsi returned to the states.

By 1997, Tim and Marsi had resumed their lives in the States but were still just scraping by. When Marsi revealed she was pregnant, Tim knew he needed to get his act together. He got a job in the mortgage business, bought a house and a Range Rover, and began checking all of life’s boxes.  Despite his success, Tim knew that something was missing.

The Turning Point

One day in the late nineties, Tim ran into an old friend, Pat Weber. Pat had started a surf school in California and was living the dream—surfing every day and getting paid to do it. He handed Tim a surf school t-shirt and said to keep in touch. Tim’s run-in with Pat changed everything and gave him the perspective he needed to realize his dreams. He missed the Pura Vida lifestyle, the people, and the waves in Costa Rica.

A Costa Rica Surf School is Born

Costa Rica Surf School

When Tim was a boy living and surfing on Oahu’s South Shore in Hawaii, he would ask tourist girls if they wanted to learn how to surf. Sitting in his office, Tim realized his dreams were right in front of him all along. “Why not start a Costa Rica surf school?”

Tim called his brother Tyler, who was living in Costa Rica at the time, and proposed starting a Costa Rica surf school. Tyler was enthusiastic about the idea, but neither of them knew how to start a surf school. They used to eat at Casa Tucan in Nosara, so they approached the owners and asked if they could start a surf program based to help attract more guests. They got the OK from the team at Casa Tucan, and the Safari Surf School was born.

The first few years were tough for Safari Surf School, as Tim and Tyler had to work tirelessly to grow the business. Over time, they built a reputation for providing high-quality surf lessons and excellent customer service.They hired experienced, local surf instructors, who were passionate about teaching and spreading stoke. 

Safari Surf School Today

Safari Surf School

Today, Safari Surf School is a premier Costa Rica surf school with 24 years of surf lesson excellence. Located in Playa Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica, we offer surf lessons, surf tours, surf retreats, and so much more. Since opening our doors in 1999, Safari Surf has expanded to Panama and Ecuador with new surf schools with the same founding philosophy based on a love of surfing and spreading stoke and joy to all of our students. 

Why Surfing Nosara Should Be on Your Bucket List

luxury womens surf program costa rica

If you’re looking for your next surf adventure, head to Costa Rica. Travelers have been flocking to Costa Rica for decades in pursuit of perfect waves. While some of Costa Rica’s surf towns have grown overpopulated and over-developed, Nosara retains its small-town charm. Known for world-class waves and stunning coastline, this tropical paradise has something for surfers. Whether you’re an experienced surfer yearning to travel to one of Central America’s best beach breaks or a new surfer looking to ride your first wave, our team at our Costa Rica Surf School can show you the ins and outs of our little Costa Rica surf town. Continue reading below for Why Surfing in Nosara Should Be on Your Bucket List.

Surfing Nosara Where There are Perfect Waves for All Levels

Another stoked Safari Surf School guest!

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, Nosara has waves perfectly suited for your skill level. With consistent swells all year round, even the off-season days are fun. Playa Guiones is a wide-open beach break with miles of sandbars to choose from. Playa Guiones offers new surfers the chance to catch and ride green waves thanks to the gentle slope of the wave. Down the road in Garza, experienced surfers will find a variety of world-class setups accessible by boat, including left and right point breaks. 

Beautiful Beaches and Scenery

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Nosara’s stunning coastline never gets old. We’ve seen thousands of sunsets from the shores of Playa Guiones, yet we still walk down each evening as the sun dips below the sea. Surfing Nosara gives you access to unapparelled natural beauty. Where other surf towns in Central America have high-rise hotels and towering resorts, Nosara has protected coastal forests and jungle-clad hills filled with exotic wildlife. 

A Surfer’s Paradise

surfing nosara

Nosara is a surfer’s paradise in every sense of the word. The town’s environmental protections and development guidelines have turned Nosara into a mecca for surfers, yogis, and travelers. When you’re not surfing Nosara, explore the town. The town is filled with surf shops, boutique clothing stores, charming restaurants, and yoga studios. 

A Chance to Disconnect

surfing nosara costa rica

Nosara is known for its laid-back vibe and commitment to sustainability. With limited development and an emphasis on eco-tourism, it’s the perfect place to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Take a break from technology and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area. If you’re a remote worker, fear not, it’s easy to stay connected in Nosara. With tons of cafes and strong WIFI around town, it’s never been easier to stay connected on a surf trip. Wake up early and catch dawn patrol each day before hopping on your 9 AM Zoom call. 

Opportunities for Adventure

Safari Surf guests love the local waterfalls in Nosara

While surfing is the main attraction in Nosara, there are plenty of other adventures. Take a zip-line tour through the jungle canopy, go on a horseback ride along the beach, or take a yoga class in one of the many studios in town. There’s always something to do in Nosara.

A Culinary Delight 

Delicious cuisine awaits you at Safari Surf School

Nosara has evolved in the last decade into a haven for Foodies. With decadent local flavors and a fine selection of international cuisines, it’s easy to fall in love with the food scene when you’re not surfing Nosara. Start each day with a traditional breakfast of Gallo Pinto or a healthy smoothie bowl and end each night with a meal to remember. 

Nosara, Costa Rica, should be on every surfer’s bucket list. With perfect waves, stunning scenery, and a welcoming surfing community, it’s the ultimate destination for any traveling surfing. Book your trip to visit Safari Surf and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime! 

How Nosara, Costa Rica Became an International Surf Destination for all Levels of Surfers

surfing Nosara Costa Rica

Surfing first arrived in Costa Rica in the 1960s when American surfers traveled to the country’s Pacific Coast in search of uncrowded waves. With the discovery of world-class surf in Costa Rica, it wasn’t long until it became a go-to destination for traveling surfers. Aided by the classic surf film, The Endless Summer II, Costa Rica rose to stardom as a top-notch surf travel destination by the 1990s. Today, Costa Rica ranks as one of the top surf travel destinations in the world. In addition to near-perfect surf, Costa Rica is home to rainforests, cloud forests, stunning beaches, exotic wildlife, and a welcoming and hospitable culture. To learn How Nosara, Costa Rica Became an International Surf Destination for all Levels of Surfers, continue reading below. 

The Early Days Surfing in Nosara, Costa Rica

surfing in costa rica

What’s now a convenient location just 2 hours away from Liberia’s relatively new international airport was once an off-beaten-path destination far from the country’s capital and only airport. For this reason, Nosara developed more slowly than Jaco and other further south Costa Rica surf destinations. While much of Nosara’s surrounding land was owned by expatriate American ranchers in the 1970s, the town lacked modern conveniences like roads, electricity, and telephones. An early surf trip to Nosara usually involved camping on the beach. At the time, a lot next to the beach was $3,000, electricity was only available by generator, and trips to town involved a long ride on horseback. Nosara’s first dirt road appeared in 1979, and other developments followed shortly.

A Commitment to Sustainability 

Nosara Costa Rica

By the 2000s, Nosara and Playa Guiones had a blossoming ex-pat community that would continue to grow through the first decade of the new millenia. As the parts of Costa Rica faced overdevelopment, Nosara remained a quiet retreat for those who wanted to escape the noise of other surf towns like Jaco and Tamarindo. As Costa Rica’s popularity as a global travel destination boomed, development in Nosara was imminent, but the town’s newly formed Civic Association fought to ensure it was done with the environment in mind. Making reforestation a priority, the Civic. Association established a buffer zone of 250 linear meters to protect the beach at Playa Guiones from development. Today, Nosara’s homes, hotels, and businesses are each set back from the beach, leaving the beach and its surrounding wildness as a protected wildlife zone. 

Fostering a Love of Surfing in Nosara 

Safari Surf School guests having a great experience

Because some of the earliest businesses in Nosara were surf schools, the area developed a tolerance and respect for new surfers that stands in contrast to highly localized breaks around the world. Thanks to the over 4 miles of sandy beach in Play Guiones, new and experienced surfers have room to spread out and surf comfortably within their abilities. Playa Guiones offers surfers safe sand bottom waves that peel gently with a sloped face, making them perfect for progression.

Along for the Ride 

Tim, our founder, first traveled to Costa Rica in 1995 with his wife and a few friends. They were chasing surf, but they found their future home in the tiny fishing village of Garza instead. After a four-day stay, they knew they would be back. Upon returning home to the States, Marsi and Tim sold their possessions and moved to Costa Rica with their two pugs, living in the back of the market in a tiny room with no computers, no telephones, no TV, and no internet. They made the most of their time and operated a deli catering to fishermen and traveling surfers, but the slow season forced them to return to the states, where they eventually found jobs and fell into the old routine. It wasn’t long before Tim and Marsi were drawn back to Costa Rica. After a run-in with an old friend who started a surf school in California, the idea for Safari Surf was born. Tim called his brother Tyler, and the pair went to work, making their dreams a reality. 

Today, Safari Surf operates the gold standard of surf schools in Costa Rica. Developed with sustainability and the local community at the center of our operations, we believe we’ve created the ultimate local team that’s been with us for years. Fall in love with surfing with Safari Surf School in Nosara, Costa Rica. 

Costa Rica is Leading the Global Charge in Sustainability

Turtles and more at Playa Guiones, Nosara

While most nations preach about sustainability but fail to follow through on the bulk of their promises, Costa Rica leads by example and has been doing so for decades. Long before sustainability was a trend, Costa Rica realized the importance of protecting its natural resources, in part because of their uniqueness. Costa Rica only takes up 0.03% of the Earth’s surface, but the small Latin American nation contains 5% of the world’s land-based biodiversity and 3.5% of its marine life. Since the 1980s, Costa Rica has taken the reigns and become a global leader in environmental protection and combating climate change. To find out how Costa Rica is Leading the Global Charge in Sustainability, continue reading below.

Eco-friendly Costa Rica

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Safari Surf School Staff Highlight: Our Surf Instructor Dani

surfer girls

As we mentioned in our Sustainability Goals for 2021 post, our local staff are the x-factor of Safari Surf School. As the first school to open up shop in Nosara, back in 1999, Safari Surf has been a trendsetter for similar businesses in Costa Rica. In over 20 years in business in Costa Rica, we’ve learned that no one quite compares to the local community. Our staff has a deep passion for surfing, the ocean, and sharing Costa Rican culture and Pura Vida hospitality with our guests. Since we were the first surf school to open in Nosara, some of our staff members have been with us for decades. Others have come on board a bit later, but either way, our staff is our family. In this week’s Safari Surf Staff Highlight, we introduce one of our surf coaches who is also the assistant manager and head of our women’s retreat, Dani. Dani and I caught up after his morning lesson.
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Safari Surf School Staff Highlight: Our Surf Instructor Alonzo

Alonso

As we mentioned in our Sustainability Goals for 2021 post, our local staff are the x-factor of Safari Surf School. As the first school to open up shop in Nosara, back in 1999, Safari Surf has been a trendsetter for similar businesses in Costa Rica. In over 20 years in business in Costa Rica, we’ve learned that no one quite compares to the local community. Our staff has a deep passion for surfing, the ocean, and sharing Costa Rican culture and Pura Vida hospitality with our guests. Since we were the first surf school to open in Nosara, some of our staff members have been with us for decades. Others have come on board a bit later, but either way, our staff is our family. In this week’s Safari Surf Staff Highlight, we introduce one of our long-time surf coaches, Alonzo.

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A Day in the Life at Safari Surf School: Surf lessons, Epic Meals, and More

Safari Surf School

If you’re thinking about planning a surf trip to Costa Rica, chances are you’re wondering what each day will bring. Maybe it’s your first surf trip, and you’re hoping to pick up a new hobby that will get you outside and active. Maybe, it’s your first time out of the country, and you’re using surfing as a vehicle of exploration to see the world. Regardless of your reason, if you choose to surf and stay with us at Safari Surf School, you’re all but guaranteed to have a unique travel experience centered around surf progression and exploring Costa Rica. At Safari Surf School, you can book a package or build your vacation from the ground up, picking and choosing from your favorite offerings. No matter what you choose, your days will have a few commonalities, like surfing and great meals. So, dive in below to check out A Day in the Life at Safari Surf School: Surf lessons, Epic Meals, and More.
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