Inside Peak – Surfers Who Stayed: Emily

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Name: Emily Lewis

Status: Year-round since 2008

Business: Owner of Ems Yums deserts/Dog Rescuer

The Road Less Traveled

One of greatest things about our beach here is that it seems to pull you into the water. The gradual sloping descent of the ocean floor creates numerous fun zones where the white water regenerates into smaller/mellow new waves. I believe this is one reason Nosara seems to appeal to a “slightly older” demographic interested in learning and experiencing surfing. Look and you will see this; healthy, tan, and active folks that ain’t kids anymore. Look closer and you will see a number of surfing senior citizens out there catching waves and surfing well. Nosara has one of the oldest and well established expatriate communities in Costa Rica. I married Emily 31 years ago in San Diego. Our life compass has taken us to many shores, all water places. In 2008, we sold everything we had, and moved from Florida to Nosara. I guess these days this may not seem such a big deal, but for two baby boomers in their mid fifties, uprooting from an American Life and moving to Costa Rica was definitely The Road Less Traveled…at least for us! Here is Ems story:


“The Cake Lady” baking at home                                                          Spreading the love at local school fundraiser


Emily’s Story

“In 2004, long after my prime years of nursing had passed and “burn out” set in; we had an opportunity to run the “hotel on the point” (Hotel Playas de Nosara). Our daughter and a friend rented our house and cared for our two dogs and off we went! By June 2005 we knew that our parental responsibilities were not over and we returned to Florida to work and pay the bills. Peter worked for Surf Express, a travel company that arranged surfing trips to Costa Rica. This enabled us to explore the country extensively. Once we saw Nosara, well it sort changed everything for us, it was like finding Shangri-La, an earthly paradise! Finally, at the end of 2007, Peter flew to Nosara to meet with our builder and plan out our house design. Nine months later we arrived at the Miami airport with 3 dogs in kennels and 4 suitcases. We had sold all of our possessions and were starting over, “looking for the seventies” as Peter puts it. We’ve had many adventures and ‘misadventures’ in the six years we’ve lived here, all valuable learning experiences.”

Starting Ems Yums

“I have always loved baking for special occasions, etc. and have accumulated some great original recipes over the years. The owner of La Luna Restaurant (Angelina) asked me if I could come up with some “special desserts” for the restaurant.  My longtime favorite Carrot Cake and newly created Mocha Chocolate Chip Cake filled that niche well. Newly arriving Safari guests are treated to a ‘Welcome (carrot) Cake’ which is a nice touch. Currently my cakes are available at la Luna, Harbor Reef, and Robbie’s Guiones mini-market. I receive quite a few private birthday cake orders as well. I also bake muffins, cheesecake, cookies, fudge-nut brownies, and pumpkin pie. I think I give away more that I sell! It’s a labor of love for me; it’s worth it to see the smiles of happy customers.”
Dog Rescuer/Animal Advocate
“When we moved here my goal was to be retired and do volunteer work with local stray animals. I was immediately drawn to the number of malnourished dogs in Nosara. I assembled a ‘road kit’ with food and medicines, and stopped wherever I saw an emaciated dog(s). Over time my profits from Ems Yums were used to buy bags of dog food which I donated to local families who couldn’t afford to feed their pets. Realizing the immediacy of slowing the population growth of these unwanted/neglected dogs, I became involved with Nosara Animal Care, and took as many strays as possible to be spayed and neutered. The most rewarding part is when I am able to find new homes for these animals. An offshoot of this work was the creation of ‘Dog Tales’, an educational outreach project involving local schools. The kids would write cute stories about their pets in both Spanish and English, and share them with their fellow students and friends, fostering awareness and pride in their care of pets and local animals.”


   Dog Mobile                                                     My dog Blinky                   Hungry Beach Strays “Still Surfin” After all these Years

There is no feeling like catching a wave and riding it to the beach. I still go surfing occasionally; as much as my busy schedule allows. I admit to being a small wave whitewater surfer and just love being out in the ocean.


Jaco Beach 1999                                                                                                                                                         Playa Guiones 2007


“People are generally fascinated that we were able to uproot and move here. We seemed to have less “anchors” in the ground holding us back so we just went for it. We have great support from our family members and they visit here as much as possible.”

A Changing Nosara

“Nosara life can only get better in the future. In our six years here, we have seen a proper full service gas station and national bank open, and the government is taking a more active interest in Nosara. Last year a major dike was constructed in the Nosara River to prevent flooding, and the recent visit here by the new president left us all with high hopes that our roads really will be paved. Nosara has more year-round residents and services than in past years, and the activist community here strives to keep things clean and green and limit development. The growing number of “healthy lifestyle” businesses here attracts good people and inspires everyone to seek ‘wellness.’ We came looking for “a more interesting life” and certainly found that here!”
The vigilant Nosara Civic Association………………..keeps high rise development away

Inside Peak – Surfers Who Stayed: Robbie Vickers

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Name:Robbie Vickers

Status: Year-round since 2005

Business:Owner: Mini Super Guiones

“When Irish Eyes are Smiling”

It seems most folks are drawn to the melodic ‘Irish Lilt’. My friend Robbie Vickers has one; he was born and raised in Ireland. Ireland is a beautiful country with lots of open green spaces, and heaps of waves of all descriptions. One wonders how he came to call Nosara home. Robbie and his wife Nella own and operate the Guiones Mini Supermarket. If you’ve been in Guiones in the last couple of years it’s very likely you been in their store. It’s centrally located in the middle of “Main Street Guiones”, adjacent to Surfing Nosara and next to Robins Ice Cream. Last year they totally renovated the store and property, expanding the markets shelf space and building two very stylish upscale rental flats upstairs. Robbie and Nella have two beautiful daughters, Sophia (15) and Isabella (4) and are expecting a third girl, Camilla, in September. They are both widely known and loved in town.

Robbie’s story is original and inspiring, and we are lucky to have this lovely family here!



  Nella, Isabella, Robbie (with Camilla in oven!)                                           Mom and Sophia

Robbie’s Story

“I was born and raised in Ireland. It was great as a kid growing up. I remember we used to get long beautiful summers with lots of rain the rest of the year. I used to travel to the west coast with my dad almost every weekend – he would fly fish the rivermouths for salmon and I would go surfing. If there were no waves I would fish with him. I left Ireland when I was 19 years old to attend my friend’s wedding in Montauk New York. I fell in love with the surfing and fishing scene there and decided to stay. One of my first jobs was working on a commercial fishing boat, which I did for two years. Fishing allowed me to save enough money to travel and surf in the winter months. I spent a lot of time in Puerto Rico back then. The waves were great but it just got too crowded for my liking. I began to focus on saving enough money to start my own business. My painting company Robbie Vickers Custom interiors employed 28 people at one time and we painted mansions on eastern long Island in a place know as The Hamptons. Being self-employed allowed me to take some cool surf trips. I spent two months in Indonesia and experienced the best waves I’ve ever surfed. But it was on an extended trip to Central America where I first saw Nosara.  I arrived at the beach and looked out upon perfect blue-green waves peeling off up and down the beach that did it for me.I wanted to be somewhere where the surf was more consistent and the water was warm and Nosara offers that. I returned to New York and realized that after twelve years it was time for a change. I got very lucky and sold both my house and business two days before the collapse of Bear Stearns financial empire. I moved to Costa Rica 2 months later and built my house in Nosara. I met Nella three years ago at the Nosara Fiesta and it was truly love at first sight”.

Nella and Robbie – Stop in and say hi

Luck of the Irish! Robbie likes the power, punch, and hollows of Playa Ostional and also surfs Guiones regularly. Here he exits the pit with full beard commitment! When not surfing or running he’s at the store taking care of business. The recent expansion of the market has enabled him and Nella to increase the product line with an emphasis on quality and diversity. Healthy/organic selections and varied ethnic items are available as well as fresh produce, fine wines and beers.

With a major renovation/expansion last year, Mini Super Guiones is has grown with the town.

Plus two Uber-Chic New Apartments!

Inside Peak – Surfers Who Stayed: Richard Jordan

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If you have visited Nosara there’s a good chance you liked it so much you found yourself fantasizing about living here.

Wanderlust, escapism, dreamscaping – it’s a natural part of the travel experience. End of the road places always seem to have memorable distinct characters, expats and the like, who took the road less traveled and moved to paradise. The lure of living in a surfing paradise has drawn many such colorful folks to Nosara. Some are snowbirds escaping cold weather months in the north, others stick it out until the end of August, and still others come to call Nosara home year-round. In this post I begin a series of profiles on select surfers who stayed, and how they contribute to the Safari Surf experience.



Richard Jordan

Name: Richard Jordan

Status: Year-round since 2001

Business: Heart of Guiones Wellness Center

Richard is the classic California expat, tall, tanned, and super fit. He comes from San Diego California, a classic surf town. Richard is a registered Holistic Health Practitioner and has been a bodywork and movement educator for 30 years. Richard discovered Nosara on a surf trip 15 years ago. He loved the town and waves here but it was the chance encounter with Nosara Yoga Institute founders Don and Amba Stapleton during a teacher training seminar that sealed the deal. Upon learning of Richard’s background and qualifications they enthusiastically offered him a job…..and he eagerly accepted. He embraced the jungle, ocean, and people here and decided to make Nosara his permanent home. With quality year round surf and a yoga teaching job in hand, he loaded his 1989 Ford diesel pick-up with surfboards, massage tables, Russian Kettlebells, and a Gyrotonic Transformer fitness machine, and left California behind, making the drive in nine days. In 2002 he opened Nosara Workout Beach Gym, focusing on general fitness training for his mainly surfer clientele and local residents. In 2003 he taught six Nosara women the art of massage, free of charge, and Tica Massage was born. Richard’s prime location across from Harmony Hotel on main street Guiones has become a well know landmark in the area, and Casa Tucan (Safari Surfs former home for 13 years) was just steps away. Richard’s first sign is iconic in Nosara, which I still remember today. Upon turning into the cul-de-sac servicing Casa Tucan and Richard’s facility you are immediately overwhelmed by the image of a huge blue hollow wave with Richard slotted in the sweet spot. “Is that here?” everyone would say, and Yes it was here, captured right out front by the legendary photographer Soul Arch Matt.


tica-massage-signThe convenience of having a workout studio and massage spa located right next door led to a business relationship with Safari Surf which still exists today. Safari guests could take fitness and yoga classes and get a massage right after surfing all day, it was ideal. As Nosara grew into The Surfing and Yoga capital of Costa Rica, Richard added new structures and fitness programs and changed the name to Heart of Guiones Wellness Center, which encompasses Tica Massage, Studio Guiones, and Pilates Nosara. “Being a Health Practitioner myself I’ve always had my finger on the pulse of the growing trend of wellness in Nosara, and I’ve made adjustments to accommodate this blossoming “industry”. Safari Surf looks forward to working with Richard and his excellent facility in the future!

studio-guiones pilates nosara

Pilates Nosara packs ‘em In!



(Your Safari Yoga-Pass good for all classes!)

Richard exclusively rides big surfboards shaped by legendary California craftsman Tommy Lewis. He likes big, clean and hollow waves and is a standout in the lineup to this day.

     Family Car Outing with Kids Mey, Travis, and Maggie-Dog

Inside Peak – Foodies!

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Safari Surf’s Dynamic “foodie” Duo!


Foodie: A foodie, as defined by Wikipedia, is a gourmet or a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages. While gourmet and epicurean can be used as synonyms they have fallen out of favor and bring to mind a stodgy or snobbish attitude.Simply stated, a foodie is a person keenly interested in food, especially in eating or cooking. I am not sure this descriptive has been adopted into Costa Rican culinary culture yet, but if there ever were two avid foodies in Nosara, they are Safari Surfs Maritza Sanchez and Alicia Matamoros. They have worked together in local foodservice establishments for 11 years, including five years at Casa Tucan, Safari Surfs original home. Maritza wears the chef’s hat while Alicia is a top-shelf bartender and food server. Together they really are a dynamic duo! As the construction of the Olas Verdes Sustainable Surf Resort moves full speed ahead, we look to these two talented ladies to play significant roles in the development of the resorts restaurant and bar. They are both brimming with excitement and chock full of ideas for both the food and bar service operations. Here’s an inside peek – provecho!


Chef Maritza Sanchez                                                                                                         Server/Bartender Alicia Matamoros


Alicia and Maritza are very familiar faces around Safari Surf. This past year as we adjusted to conducting business in the “Safari House”, they have been the ultimate food team. Maritza’s wonderful cooking and Alicia’s seamless service just seem to complement each other. I have seen these girls in action when 25 ravenous Safari Surf students were awaiting dinner. The barbeque was cranking and all burners on the stove blazing away. When dinner was ready everyone sat down and was treated to one amazing multi-course dinner. The timing was just incredible as Alicia and Maritza orchestrated the cooking/serving with precision coordination. They are used to working in small cramped spaces so the move to Olas Verdes is like a dream come true to them.


Alicia’s special touches                                                                                                        Nobody leaves hungry

shrimp cocktail
pina colada
mojito 2
tuna slice

We spent a couple of hours together chatting about the exciting things to come:


PL: Well ladies what do you think about this new opportunity at Ola Verdes?

Alicia:It is like a dream come true, something I have always hoped for.

Maritza:All of my past cooking experiences have been in preparation for an opportunity like this, a place where I can express myself in my cooking, recipes, and flavors.


PL:You two have worked together a combined total of 11 years. What do you consider your strong points?

Maritza:I love to cook; I guess you can call me a chef! I incorporate a number of different styles, flavors, and influences into my cooking, from Italian, French, Mediterranean, and local “tipico” recipes; I think this is called “fusion”.

Alicia:My background is in bartending and food service. I love to work with the public. Safari Surfs guests are always wonderful people; I want to make them feel welcome and to have a great vacation here. Also – I make amazing cocktails!


PL:What kind of menu will Olas Verdes feature?

Maritza:Everything fresh, fresh, fresh. We will be a green and sustainable resort and our food will reflect that: salads, fruits, and lots of fresh seafood. One specialty will be our Ceviche, made fresh daily. I want to have a variety of daily fresh fish selections. I will also feature local ‘tipico’ favorites such as lomito jalapeño (filet mignon in jalapeño sauce), and arroz con pollo.

Alicia:I will create a bar menu using only fresh fruits and juices. Our mojito will be made with fresh yerba buena (mint), margaritas will be created with fresh hand-squeezed lime juice, and daiquiris will come in many flavors: mango, pineapple, banana, strawberry, and passion fruit.


foodie spread
The restaurant at Olas Verdes will feature indoor and outdoor dining. The facility is adjacent to the wildlife refuge, providing a green and serene atmosphere. There will be outdoor patio dining overlooking the pool and jungle. Keep tuning into the Safari Surf website and Facebook page for updates and previews!

Ola Verdes – Restaurant & Deck Dining


Dream Team: Jeffrey, Alicia, & Maritza

Inside Peak – Meet The Chandler Family

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The Chandlers (L to R: Kerry, Tess, Sam, Jeff)

The Chandlers (L to R: Kerry, Tess, Sam, Jeff)

It’s been a great week here at Safari, highlighted by the visit of The Chandler Family and their guests. I pondered scripting a splashy and profound title for this blog; “Genesis of a Dream” or “Jersey Angels” or how about “Olas Verdes First Family Revealed”. The truth is, the Chandlers are such gentle, lovely, “salt of the earth” folks that none seemed appropriate or necessary. The Chandler’s have been loyal Safari Alumni for the past nine years. They come from Sandy Hook New Jersey, which makes me smile, since Jersey is my birthplace as well. There must be something about the New Jersey Atlantic salt air that gets in your soul and points you to the beach. My family devotedly spent those three precious summer months (June, July, August) on the beach for countless years. Come Labor Day the whole place would shut down and saltwater depression would set in. Same with the Chandler family. In those long, cold, dreary New Jersey winters we would dream of perfect waves in warm water, sunny skies, with palm trees on the beach…… and ye shall find. That we all have discovered Nosara is no coincidence – its serendipity! When Casa Tucan sold last year, Safari embarked on a new adventure. Tim and Tyler reached out to faithful alumni who might be interested in helping grow and expand the dream. Jeff and Kerry Chandler answered that call, and a partnership was formed to develop a one-of-a-kind sustainable upscale surfing resort called Olas Verdes.

A week with the Chandlers

One of the coolest things about the Chandlers is that when they come back to Nosara each year (sometimes twice) they come to Safari and enroll in the full program, lessons, meals, the works. Many folks return to Nosara determined to do it on a budget, which is fine, but the Chandlers seek the camaraderie and fellowship, the relationships, cultivated with Safari’s instructors and staff years ago. It is a true pleasure to have them here and kind of sad when they leave. Usually their kids Sam and Tess come with friends, and on this trip they each brought their 3 best friends in kind of a belated birthday trip. Sam and Tess celebrated their actual 16th birthday in January (yes, they are twins!). So here come the Chanders, 10 strong, extended family, instant atmosphere!

Here Come the Chandlers!
Extended Family
I sat down with Kerry and we chatted about life, kids, New Jersey, and of course Olas Verdes.

PL: Welcome back Kerry! When and how did you folks find Nosara and Safari Surf?
Kerry: We wanted to have a family surfing vacation and I knew Costa Rica was a cool place to visit. So I went on the internet to do research, typing in the search box ‘Surfing in Costa Rica’ and that’s where I learned about Safari. That was about nine years ago and we’ve been coming back to Safari every year.
(Kerry was actually in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica in 1985-87. Destiny!

PL: I was stoked to hear you are from New Jersey. I was born in Atlantic City, and learned to surf there. I spent the Summer of Love in Ocean City! Do you guys go to the beach in Sandy Hook?
Kerry: Oh yes, my family tree is full of beach people! Learning how to surf with Safari has led to us being year-round surfers in New Jersey.

PL: I am impressed that each time your family visits here, you enroll in the full Safari package rather than setting out on your own.
Kerry: Always! We feel so comfortable here. Our kids grew up with the instructors and they keep in touch. The meals together are a special time as well. Back home it’s hard to get everyone together at the same time – well you remember!

PL: Let’s talk about Olas Verdes. How did you come to be involved?
Kerry: We had heard that Casa Tucan was sold and Safari was in the process of reinventing itself. We had recently received a prospectus from Tim Marsh (Safari president/co-owner) seeking private investors interested in creating a partnership to expand the operation. Somehow it just resonated with us on many levels and we came aboard. The project is now full steam ahead. We will have 17 rooms, a restaurant, clubhouse, pool, and all the trimmings. Safari Surf School will be an integral part of the overall operation. Olas Verdes will be a sustainable surf resort!

PL: How do you envision the hospitality, theme, and creature comfort standard of the new resort?
Kerry: Olas Verdes will be upscale and very family-friendly. We have designed the accommodations as mini apartments with either a wet bar or full kitchen. Single units can be conjoined to form two and three bedroom suites. We are committed to making the facility as sustainable as possible following the LEED certification process. The resort will be a model of sustainability. There will be an educational component to this and we will conduct tours, identify all plant species with signs, and lots more. Most importantly, we want to capture the heart, spirit, camaraderie, and joy of Pura Vida that we have experienced so deeply on all of our trips with Safari.
PL: Any idea on the grand opening date?
Kerry: We are optimistically hoping for March 2015. And what’s this I hear about Donavon Frankenreiter performing at the grand opening?
PL: Confirmed! I was there when Tim asked him. He will most likely be here simultaneously with a Billabong ‘Surf with a Pro’ camp. The resort will be crawling with surfers!
PL: In parting I must say it has been a true pleasure getting to know you all better.
We are all very excited about Olas Verdes. Take good care and we’ll see ya at Christmas.

Kerry and Jeff Chandler

A chat with Sam and Tess

Sam and Tess Chandler are some of the nicest kids I’ve ever met. On this trip they each brought down three of their best friends, all wonderful people. They both turned 16 in January and belatedly celebrated the occasion here with family and friends.


Tess                                                                                                                                                                               Sam

PL: What do you guys think of this amazing place being built?
Sam: So stoked, Costa Rica here I come!
Tess: It is truly a dream come true to have a house here one block from the waves (the Chandlers are also building a home near the resort)

PL: What do you see yourselves doing in five years?
Sam: I’ll be living here working at the surf school!
Tess: Oh wow, let’s see, in college?

PL: What is your “must have” on the Olas Verdes breakfast menu? Dinner?
Sam: Breakfast: granola with yogurt and fruit. Dinner: large selection of seafood.
Tess: Breakfast: French toast. Dinner: arroz con pollo.

PL: TV’s in the rooms, yes or no?
Sam: No TV’s. The entertainment here comes from natural sources. I don’t think we’ve ever turned on a TV in all of our trips here.
Tess: Yes and No. It might be nice for families with kids, but personally I won’t watch it!

PL: Thanks guys, it has been great getting to know you and your friends. See you at Christmas and keep surfing in New Jersey.
Sam/Tess: (in unison) PURA VIDA!


Sam with his “Awesome Surf Mom”                                                                                                                                                  Sweet 16


Winter in New Jersey                                                                                                                                                  Tess and Kerry
December 2013 trip

Surf Photos

I found it interesting that I couldn’t find many surfing photos of the Chandlers. Truth is that they are having so much fun that they don’t really care! They are avid surfers who will be a presence in the Guiones lineups for many years to come. More photos to come!


Jeff                                                                                                                                                                                                            Kerry


Sam                                                                                                                                                                                                            Tess

COWABUNGA! Papa Jeff leads the charge


Symphony of the Sea


With conductor Alonso


Tyler Marsh admires the new Safari Clubhouse at Olas Verdes


A wave shaped pool – very cool!

Inside Peak – Little Summer

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“Little Summer”


We have been experiencing a long stretch of beautiful dry sunny weather and all day offshore winds this month, more so than in past years. The locals refer to these dry spells as the “veranillo”, which means ‘little summer’. I have read in various guide books that the actual name of this phenomenon is ‘El Veranillo de San Juan’. Being a surfer/ armchair meteorologist (and also the son of a real life one), I like to probe a little deeper into these things and learn a little more about what makes this place tick. I never did find out who San Juan is/was and what he has to do with this weather trend, but I reckon surfers owe him a debt of gratitude for these awesome off-season surfing conditions.


El Niño

Most likely we all have heard by now that scientists are confirming that another El Niño is developing. El Niño means The Little Boy, or Christ Child in Spanish. El Niño was originally recognized by fishermen off the coast of South America in the 1600s, with the appearance of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean. The name was chosen based on the time of year (around December, i.e. The Christ Child) during which these warm water events tended to occur. The term El Niño refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific. Typical El Niño effects are likely to develop over North America during the upcoming winter season. Those include warmer-than-average temperatures over western and central Canada, and over the western and northern United States. Wetter-than-average conditions are likely over portions of the U.S. Gulf Coast and Florida, while drier-than-average conditions can be expected in the Ohio Valley and the Pacific Northwest. For Costa Rica the implications point to a dry rainy season.
          El Niño: warmer than average waters in the Eastern equatorial Pacific ( in orange, affects weather around the world.

The real concern in Central America of course is severe drought and water shortages. For surfers lucky enough to be here, it all feels like a tropical fantasy.

image13Another interesting factor contributing to these little summer periods is the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), a large band of clouds, usually thunderstorms, that circle the globe near the equator. Its location is affected by many things, most noteably landmasses and ocean currents. A deflection of the ITCZ northward past Costa Rica in July enhances the creation of offshore wind and dry weather.

Disclaimer: the world’s weather is changing. As much as we try to understand it all scientifically don’t be surprised when another weather surprise springs up – like last night, in the midst of a seven day dry spell the thunderstorm from hell dropped six inches of rain in one hour!  As Saturday Night Lives’ residence weather man Father Guido Sarducci proclaimed: “It all depends on the weather”.

Enough science! Now the photos tell the story…

 El Veranillo – the Goods and Bads




Dry river mouths = new sandbar formation and pristine beaches


Sand Factory

Jennifer planned to stay with us  a week – it turned into a month and counting!



Edyie                                                                                                                 Scott                                                                                                                    Anya



      Next Bay Over

“It all depends on the weather”
The skies open for 6 inches of rain!

Inside Peak – Surf Forecasting

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This past week the entire west coast of Costa Rica (and Central America) was slammed by a massive “Southern Hemi”. That’s surf speak indicating a swell born on the poles and charging up from the Southern Hemisphere. In this era of technological advancements and wizardry, these swells are now predicted well in advance of the event, and delivered to the world via numerous websites. Now any of you fellow baby-boomer surfers out there can remember a time when getting a surf report meant driving to the beach and looking at the ocean to see how the waves were. Surfers by nature become armchair meteorologists, tuning into wind directions, tides, seasons, and the like. The phenomenon of computer model forecasting has only been around for a decade or so. This issue of Inside Peak will focus on some of the basics of modern day surf forecasting, including the monster swell we had last week.


What Makes Waves?

Waves are created as wind blows over the ocean, transferring its energy into the water. The size of the swell is affected by three variables: the velocity of the wind, its duration, and its fetch (distance the wind blows in a specific direction). There are two different types of swells that influence the surfing conditions.

  1. Groundswell- waves that are generated a long distance away, far off the coast. This can be thousands of miles!
  2. Wind Swell – waves that are formed from local winds.

In general groundswells produce better surfing conditions. Wind swells are usually smaller, choppy, and more of a challenge to surf. Although both types of swells are normal at most surf spots, groundswells create more powerful, lined up surf. Groundswells will tend to dominate, reducing the influence of local wind waves. This occurs because groundswells originate far from the shore and have more time to organized and groomed.


       Ground Swell                                                                                                                                         Wind Swell


Swell Data

In order to forecast surf conditions important data needs to be analyzed:

    • Swell Height – the height of the swell in deep water.
    • Swell Direction – the direction from which the swell is coming, measured in degrees.
    • Swell Period – the swell period is a measurement of the time between successive waves in seconds. Waves travel in groups (called sets when they approach shore, as in “Big Set Outside”! In general waves will be referred to as either short period or long period. A long period indicates a wave born on a storm far out to sea making its way to shore. As waves travel they pick up velocity and amplitude. If there is a swell of significant height and swell period heading your way, you are probably in for good surf.

Our swell last week was forecast to be 6 feet of deep water swell with a period of 25 seconds. This would indicate a gigante swell. As these waves reach shallow reef or sand they stand up and heave, throwing out huge caverns of Pacific Ocean energy. Interesting to note is that a 6 foot deep water swell at 25 seconds is capable of generating breaking waves with faces up to 20 feet!
Big swells can light up offshore spots that are dormant under normal surf conditions



Bathymetry is the study of the depth of the Ocean floor. Its land based equivalent is topography. Waves will always turn and refract towards shallower water and meets a variety of surfaces; sand, reef, piers, jetties, etc. The shape of the ocean floor greatly affects a wave’s mood, shape, and size. A gradual sloping ocean floor like we have here in Guiones generally results in a slower crumbling wave, great for learning how to surf. However with a swell the size of last week’s event, the whole ocean can come crashing down on you all at once. There are many more factors including land contours, tides, local winds, etc. I don’t want to get anymore technical here than this, but I think this gives you a good idea on wave formation.


Perfection through the arches of Hotel Nosara


       Rumbling giant heading for the impact zone      


Surf Forecasting Websites

There are numerous websites that offer wave forecasts, many with a great degree of detail, photos, and weather charts.

For Nosara my favorite is:

Many of the local like this one:

The original pioneer:


In Southern Costa Rica, pavones is one of the true wonders of the surfing world. Pavones focuses Southern Hemisphere energy into perfect peeling freight train lefthanders that wrap into the Golfo Dulces many perfect points. It is said to handle waves up to twenty feet!


Sequence: local womens legend JESSIE on the wave of the day!

Cover Shot

The breathtaking lead photo was taken by local master photographer Graham Swindell.
Graham hosts a popular website called Nosara Shack. Graham focuses on surfing as an artistic expression, which you can see in his brilliant compositions. He and surf buddy Scott McDowell set off on a reconnaissance mission to witness how this monster swell behaved at the multitude of coastal nooks and crannies to our south. Check it out at:

Inside Peak – Driving in Costa Rica

Posted by & filed under The Inside Peak.

Road Trip!

Costa Rica is a wonderful place to explore by rental car. In my early years as a travel agent for Surf Express Travel in Florida, the majority of our bookings were fly/drive packages, facilitating adventurous minded surfers to roam the country looking for perfect, uncrowded surf. Renting a car in Costa Rica has the potential to create a very unique trip for travelers. You can seek out little-known places, stop when you want, and craft your own adventure from scratch. However, driving in Costa Rica is serious. Road conditions can be difficult, signs are spotty, and driving times can be long. Before getting behind the wheel, think about what it requires and how you want your trip to unfold. Costa Rica has more than 20,000 miles of roads, yet fewer than 25% of them are paved. Many are so poorly maintained that driving on gravel surfaces is the better option. The road system infrastructure in Costa Rica is incomplete but somehow gets you there if you persevere.

City Driving

Driving in San Jose can be harrowing, especially during rush hours. Tico’s tend to drive offensively and assume they always have the right of way.  Fortunately the airport is on the outskirts of San Jose; point your car west and go prepared for anything! Road signs out of San Jose are good, but become less and less so as you get out in the country. Seat belts must be worn and are strictly enforced by the Transit Police. Always carry a copy of your passport with you. Distance and speed limits are in kilometers (1 kilometer is equivalent to 0.6214miles). Avoid night driving! As you depart the city, the scenery becomes breathtaking. Plan to have a leisurely drive and enjoy the experience. There are some great roadside restaurants, and plenty of photo opportunities along the way.


Avoid rush hour!                                                                                                                                Don’t drive at night!


Country Driving

The real fun of driving is when you get out of the city and into the country. Once  of the you exit the mountains you can cruise to your beach destination. You will encounter big trucks that appear to be taking up the entire road. Pass only if you are on a clear straightaway and can see oncoming traffic. It is more likely that the trucks will pass you, on a blind curve in the fog! Two lane roads often narrow into single lanes over bridges. Some roads lack guardrails and have steep drops along either side. Rainy season driving can wreak havoc on Costa Rica’s roads – landslides, flooding, dangerous erosion, and horrendous gaping huecos (pot holes). In spite of all these hazards and deterants, driving is a great adventure and gives you a sense of achievement.

Dirt Roads

One of my favorite sayings is “Dirt Roads bring good people, paved roads bring all kinds of people”. Many great beach destinations are end of the road places. The driving is slow and sometimes sketchy with river crossings, cows and horses on the road, and unbelieveable potholes. On one of our trips we got behind a big funeral procession where  mourners  were carrying a coffin to it’s burial site. This created a huge traffic back-up, but was cool  to see.


grande junc

                                         GRANDE JUECOS – THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!


            RICKETY ONE-LANE BRIDGES                                                                                                          COLLAPSED ROAD – YIKES!


        TREE DOWN!                                                                                                 MUD                                                                                      MOUNTAIN MIST


4-wheel Drive Mandatory!                                                                                                                                                         True country
Ferry to Tambor

River Crossings

When driving in the rainy season (May to November) you will surely encounter a few rivers. Always get out of your car and walk through to the other side to test the water depth and river bottom (mud, sand, rock). Drive across slowly but with determination!
Rocky Bottom and Shallow – GO!


Getting Around in Nosara

Most Safari Surf guests arrive from the airports (San Jose or Liberia) via shuttle van. Because of Nosara’s beach protection, no roads are permitted within the maritime zone. Most of the hotels are within walking distance to Safari Surf. Some folks rent golf carts and “quads” to tool around. Bicycles have become increasingly popular and there is a fully equipped bike shop on main street Guiones. It is also possible to rent a small car for use in Nosara.


Walking!                                                                                                                    Quad fun                                                                                  Golf Cart

True Story – my near disaster!

We live up on a mountain north of the Nosara River. In dry season, crossing the river saves fifteen  minutes from going the ‘long way’. Once the rains start the river fills, but this year there has been a tremendous build-up of small round river rocks that have formed a natural corridor across the river. I’ve made successful crossings up until the other day. As I neared the far side I wasn’t  paying attention and nudged closer to the bank than I should have. Suddenly the left side of my quad sunk down and threw me off into the water. As I surfaced I saw the quad  still there idling away, so I got up and little by little pushed it to safety. (Remember, dark water indicates deep, lighter colors means shallower water).  All I lost was my cheap cell phone, it could have been much worse. Gracias a Dios.


  Smooth Sailing.                                                                                                                                                                              Avoid the bank!

Inside Peak – Soccer Madness!

Posted by & filed under The Inside Peak.

Soccer Madness Captures Nosara!


The 20th edition of the World Cup of soccer kicked off on June 12 in host country Brazil.

Not being a big team sports fan, I was converted on last Friday when Costa Rica won their game 1-0 against highly favored Italy. This happened as I was driving to the beach. As I passed by the Rancho Tico restaurant I was amazed to see cars parked everywhere up and down both sides of the street as far as I could see. I decided to stop and take a look, and what I encountered was actually shocking – 300 revved up fans celebrating and partying like there was no tomorrow. The win puts Costa Rica in the top 16. It has been 24 years since Costa Rica advanced this far, and Costa Ricans everywhere are on fire. Today Costa Rica faces England but this time “Los Ticos” are favored to win. I am told that soccer has become very popular in the states now. The game last night between the U.S. and Portugal was a heartbreaker for the American team ending in Portugal’s last second tying goal. The following gallery of photos tells the tale of spirit, loyalty, and national confidence.


‘Los Ticos’ team and Fans celebrate after Friday’s victory over Italy
Carnival Atmosphere prevails in Nosara!
Camilla and Sebastian  in team colors waiting for start of game
Tailgate Party at Safari House!
Brazil’s Stadiums are Out of this World