The Inside Peak – The Kids Are All Right

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Safari is visited by a wide range of people of all sizes.

The most enjoyable times for me are when the surf school is buzzing with lots of kids. The atmosphere then is bustling with energy, activity, laughter, and joy, I mean it’s like that all the time, but with kids around…….well you know what I mean. Safari Surf offers lessons and kids camps for the munchkins. We offer full and half day camps that include surf lessons, beach games, arts & crafts, pool activities, lunch, etc. Ages range from 5-15 with the emphasis on structuring by age groups. Our instructors are fantastic with kids and jump at the opportunity to work a “kid’s camp”. I recently joined a wild and crazy group from Charleston, South Carolina.



PL: How did you find out about Safari Surf School and Costa Rica?

WYLLY: We had our Spring Break this week. My parents knew someone who had been

here and recommended it. We came in two families; we all go to the same school.


PL: Hey Zoe how old are you?

ZOE: I’m 5, the youngest. My name is spelled Z-O-E with 2 dots over the E.


PL: Holy smokes I don’t think my computer has a key for the 2 dots. Is that important?

ZOE: YES! If they aren’t there then you will say my name wrong!


PL: OK! I will do my best to find the 2 dots (I can’t find them). So did you have fun?
ZOE: We are having a blast! We don’t want to leave.


PL: What did you guys do this week?

CAMERON: We surfed, a lot! We also went snorkeling, went on a scavenger hunt on the beach, played in the pool, ate pizza, and drew stuff.


PL: Your mom said you would probably grow up and move here and be a surfer girl.

CAMERON: She said that?! That’s cool!


PL: Was surfing hard for you?

RODGERS: Naw it was easy and fun! The boards here float you good!


Pl: What was the biggest wave you caught?

RODGERS: As big as an aircraft carrier!


PL: WOW, that big?

RODGERS: Yup, ask Wylly.



  PL: Hey Camille, do you have any top memories of your vacation

  CAMILLE: This was my best Spring Break ever! I am definitely coming back.

I made even better friends with Cameron here.


PL: Who’s your favorite instructor?







Safari has also hosted some older kids over the years: Phil Guilfoyle, Professor of Art at Virginia Wesleyan College brought his group down for his the “Art of Surfing” course and they earned full college credit for their participation in this innovative program!


Jason Roderick, Director of Counseling Services at Providence Country Day School in Rhode Island has brought down his Juniors and Seniors groups for four years running.




“To nose dive, having too much weight at the front of the board causing the nose to go under, resulting in a wipeout”


Pura vida,


The Inside Peak – Awesome Alumni

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The Return of the Safari Surfer.

I am continually amazed by the large number of returning Safari Surf School ‘students’. Year after year guests come back to Safari to pick up where they left off – to surf, dine, zipline, swim, relax and groove on the mellow Pura Vida beach vibe we are known for. A sure sign of a good operation can be measured by the number of people who return. They bring family and friends, gifts and photos, and huge hugs and smiles. The friendships fostered during their initial visit are lasting and meaningful. I don’t know the actual statistics, but my guess is that at least 50% of our guests come back – a phenomenal number! I have wanted to do a little profile on our alumni, see what brings them back, what they would like to accomplish, and how they feel once here. Now is a good time to start.

Jason Roderick and his “kids” recently returned for their fourth consecutive trip to Safari Surf School.  Jason is the Director of Counseling Services at the prestigious Providence Country Day School in Rhode Island, a private learning institution that balances rigorous academics, visual and performing arts, and competitive athletics. As a former Dean of Students at Vermont Academy Jason created a month long environmental study abroad program called Eco-Ecuador which was adopted into PCD’s study abroad program. It was here that Jason realized the profound impact that location based learning had on students. They experienced new cultures, languages, and customs, far different from theirs which facilitated new perspectives and insights. Jason went on to create the PCD surf/yoga program and selected Nosara as the ideal location to bring students to. He graciously answered a few questions for me.



PL: How did you come to select Nosara for these youth travel experiences?

JR: I had been to Nosara once before 9 years ago. The laid back “wellness vibe” is what sold me. Everything here exudes a positive, healthy lifestyle. It is the perfect getaway from winter in New England.


PL: How do your spread the word to students and parents?

JR: Every year I present a slide show to students, teachers, and parents. Nosara is such a spectacular visual place, the nature, the ocean, the people. Imagine watching these images of happy people enjoying this tropical paradise with a foot of snow on the ground!


PL: How are students selected?

JR: We interview all interested kids and their parents. The seniors have first priority on available openings. The parents really support me. You might think they would be hesitant to let their kids travel to what they might perceive a “third world country”, but it’s just the opposite. The Eco-Ecuador concept laid the groundwork for these types of study abroad experiences. The kids came back enlightened and the parents were convinced!


PL: How did you come to select Safari Surf School as base camp?

JR: On my earlier trip I discovered Casa Tucan. It had this really cozy surf vibe, very friendly, small, great food. I met Tim Marsh and we mapped out a customized itinerary that was basically all-inclusive; lodging, meals, surfing, yoga, a canopy tour zip line day in the rainforest, and a community exchange encounter. Now here we are on trip #4!


PL: What are the students’ impressions of the experience?

JR: Over the top, just ‘stoked’, that’s the word! I am a very organized detail person and think every aspect of the trip down to the minute. But when you get here and become immersed in the energy and atmosphere, you adopt a little more “go with the flow” attitude. It’s therapeutic!


Pl: Thanks for coming Jason, congrats on another great trip.

JR: See you next year.

I grabbed a few of the students to get their impressions…


PL: Do you all go to Providence Country Day School?

Kids: Providence and Wheeler, both private schools.


PL: How do you like it here?

NATE: You know how when you go on vacation a lot of it is planning, preparation, packing, and flying and a lot of details? You finally get there and it takes a few days to finally unwind and can ask yourself ‘was it all worth it’? Well here on my first morning we were walking on the jungle path to the beach and it just hit me and I’m thinking “if I had to go back right this instant it would still be totally worth it”. Best trip of my life!



AMARA: This place is amazing, so laid back, you can walk everywhere, and everyone waves to you!

KIRI: I felt ‘at home’ here from day one. Surfing is so fantastic and the instructors are such cool guys and very professional. A lot of girls surf here so I felt welcome and accepted in the water. Also the food, loved it all!









Thanks for reading!

Pura vida,


The Inside Peak – Tyler Marsh Story (Pt 2)

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me 7 ty 2.JPG

Greetings all and Happy St. Paddy’s Day! In this issue we bring you The Tyler Marsh Story – Part Two. As mentioned, Tylers brain is razor sharp and super active and it is often a challenge to grab him and hold his attention for a sustained period of time before he is up and addressing something else. I had the great pleasure of “pinning him down” for 15 minutes – all I needed! The things I learned about him in that short time confirmed my intuitions about a true success story here. Essentially Tyler moved to Costa Rica in 1996 with very little, ‘starting from scratch’ as they say. He went on to build a business, family, home, and life down here, NOT an easy thing to do. Seems like every other week we hear something about Costa Rica – Best Retirement Spot in Central America, the Happiest Place on Earth, the Blue Zone… But these articles almost exclusively refer to us older folks, tribal elders I like to say. These are generally folks that have worked major careers, maybe have some assets, and are collecting Social Security. Many young people come here for the surf, the yoga, the beauty, lifestyle, simplicity, etc. They sustain themselves by teaching pilates, working in restaurants, selling surf photos, and the like, but earning the big money – to be able to own a car, buy property, and build a house – just can’t be done here. Tyler Marsh Did! Here’s how:

Peter: So you were born and raised in Hawaii?
Tyler: Yes on Oahu. We lived in a little town on the outskirts of Honolulu.

Peter: What did your folks do?
Tyler: Dad was a writer, he was freelance and sold advertising. Mom was a
therapist for the Cerebral Palsy Association.

Peter: When did you start surfing?
Tyler: Oh way early on, can’t remember exact year.

Peter: Where did you surf over there, Pipeline?
Tyler: I have surfed Pipeline, but I don’t like the egos and pressure there.
My favorite spots were Backyards and Rocky Point. There are so many
incredible waves on Oahu, they call the North Shore “The Seven Mile

Peter: And the vibe there, pretty local and harsh?
Tyler: It was not easy to grow up a blond haired Haole over there. You had to
show respect and remain in the background until you proved yourself
in the water. Once you were accepted the Ohana (brotherhood, family)
would watch over you and encourage you to take off deeper.

rocky point.jpg
Rocky Point- Tyler’s Favorite Spot in Hawaii

Peter: So how did you get here (Nosara)?
Tyler: I had a tree trimming and sprinkler business in Hawaii. When Tim went
to Costa Rica in 1995 he totally fell in love with it and called me raving
about how magical it was, green, uncrowded, perfect waves. He talked me into coming down. I came here and pretty much loved it too! I decided to move here, and came over with very few possessions, footloose and fancy free. I found work on a finca (ranch) that was eventually bought by Mel Gibson. I had been looking around for some land in Hawaii and found it was just too expensive, so when I moved here I began to look around. I ended up buying a 30 acre tree farm. The farm had 20,000 Pochote and 40,000Teak trees. Tree farms were good investments and I ended up selling my land for a profit. This became the seed money for Safari Surf School. I also built my house!
Teak Plantation

Peter: We covered the start-up of Safari Surf School in last weeks blog. When
did you meet Arlene?
Tyler: I met her through a friend in San Jose. It was love at first sight! We were
inseparable and together for 4 years before we got married. We’ve been
married now for 8 years.
father son.jpg
Arlene & Tyler – first Son Bradley

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Two Boys- Kalani & Bradley

Three Boys – At Seaworld!
ty shamu (2).jpg

Peter: You speak Spanish well, everyone understands you! How did
become fluent?
Tyler: Absorption – 100% Just being here it sort of sunk in.

Peter: Where on the planet have you surfed?
Tyler: Hawaii, Fiji, Australia,New Zealand, Maldives, Mentawais, El
Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa.
Peter: Never surfed new Jersey huh?
Tyler: jajajaja
Peter: Favorite wave in the word!
Tyler: Impossibles in Indo

Peter: You are one of the rare few who found your niche here. Whats next?
Tyler: Olas Verdes will be beyond anything this town has seen.. My Guardian
Angel must be watching over me….
young ty.jpg
Peter: When, where?
Tyler: Oh My God where did you get that?
I will have to think on that!

Peter: Tell me about your new cabinas.
Tyler: Well I got to thinking about how there is often a problem finding rooms
for people in high season. I have a lot of room on my property so kinda
just went for it. I plan to add a pool and separate entrance, and they will be super private once the landscaping fills in. There was a big concert here this past weekend and I filled ‘em up!
cabinas (2).jpg
Peter: Thanks man, this has been fun.
Tyler: Aloha
alycia at safari table.jpg

Pura vida,


The Inside Peak – Tyler Marsh Story (Pt 1)

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Hola friends & welcome back to the Inside Peak! I have decided to present ‘The Tyler Marsh Story’ in two parts. In Part One (in this issue) I will attempt to introduce this amazing enigmatic character as I know him from my personal experiences and observations gained from working at Safari Surf. Part Two follows on next week’s blog, and will feature ‘an up close and personal’ interview with Da Man himself. I have known Tyler for over 4 years now, and have had the pleasure of watching him and his family and his business grow. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am nuts about kids, and his 1st born son Bradley (5 yrs old) and I have formed a bond that transcends age and traditional roles. He is a treasure, as are all kids, and I feel blessed and lucky that he can be ‘in my life’. Now there are two more boys in the brood, all future surf connoisseurs and soccer stars to be sure.



Tim and Tyler grew up on the beaches of Hawaii and became excellent surfers. Tim eventually moved to California and became a successful house painter and Tyler stayed in Hawaii. In 1995 Tim and girlfriend Marsi took a 3 week surf trip to Costa Rica and instantly became enamored with the beauty, people, simplicity, and perfect surf. They felt as if they had found Nirvana and fantasized about living in this paradise. Their travels lead to the Nicoya Peninsula where they started their explorations in Tamarindo, and then moved south, eventually ending up in Playa Garza (the next beach town south of Playa Guiones) in a torrential downpour. They were lost, tired, and hungry. They happened upon a small market with a light on and English signs in the windows. The owner Richard took them in like family and gave them shelter, food, and encouragement. He showed them around the coast and took them surfing to wondrous empty beaches. Tim and Marsi sensed destiny and they ended up leasing the little market and moving to Costa Rica to pursue their tropical dream. They loved every minute of it and called Tyler in Hawaii to entice him to come down for a look. Tyler arrived two weeks later and never looked back, making Costa Rica his permanent home. Tim and Marsi eventually returned to California to regroup and prepare for the arrival of Camille, their first of three children. Little did they know the seed had been planted…



My wife and I moved to Nosara in 2008. We had ended our professional careers and decided to pursue a ‘more interesting life’ living in Nosara.  We sold all of our possessions and left the Miami airport (just as Tim and Marsi had) with 4 suitcases and 3 dogs in kennels. We built a house and gradually learned the crazy ways of this new life. We kept our eyes and ears open and explored different possible opportunities to stay busy and earn some expense money. My wife had retired from 35 years of critical care nursing and became a cake maker, starting a little dessert business called Ems Yums. It didn’t take long for me to gravitate to my roots; surfing, restaurants, and travel planning. I met Tim Marsh and family on the local zip line tour and quickly found we had much in common and knew many of the same people in the surfing world. Tim brought me into Safari Surf School initially as a chauffeur, driving the van to and from the local airport, tours, etc., I eventually landed in the office helping with administrative tasks, guest welcome orientations, and general office duties. Tyler was the on-site owner/manager while Tim and Marsi operated the main office in California. Tyler and I came from different eras, but we worked well together as we realized our passions and backgrounds were one and the same I had to prove myself at work and in the water, and eventually earned a spot on team as the “tribal elder”.



Growing up in Hawaii, Tim and Tyler learned to endure a strict and often hostile surfing culture. The Hawaiians are a fiercely proud people always protective of their turf. The Haoles, or light skinned outsiders were often harassed and ousted in a kind of reverse discrimination. But deep down they are loyal, loving, and have hearts of gold. I could sense that Tyler was engendered with these same traits. At times misunderstood, Tyler’s mind goes a mile a minute. It is often hard to “pin him down”, but he doesn’t miss a beat, he processes everything that’s going on, and has a deep moral sense of right and wrong. Most significantly, Tyler has a big heart and is very sensitive and perceptive of feelings. He is often moved to tears by acts of kindness and loyalty. I have always loved that in him, it defines who he is.




Whereas Tim and Marsi returned to California to regroup, Tyler stayed in the Nosara area. He found various odd jobs to sustain him, and of course surfed every day. (I am looking forward to more detail on this in our interviews). Tim found work as a mortgage broker, made good money, bought a house, and acquired many ‘possessions’- the archetypical model of success. But deep down he was disenchanted and unsettled, he longed for the simple Costa Rican lifestyle. A chance encounter one day with an old friend changed everything. Pat Weber was one of the first to open a surf school in California, and it was thriving. Here was a guy having fun, staying healthy, and making a good living while making a life. Seeing this started the wheels turning, and the “what ifs” in Tim’s head would not cease. Safari Surf School was opened in 1998, and was one of the first in Costa Rica providing full service vacation packages. It has steadily grown every year.

The next step in Safari’s evolution is currently underway with the development, construction, and operation of Olas Verdes, a state of the art sustainable surf resort slated to open in 2015.



Tyler found love and married local girl Arlene DiCarlo and started a family, 3 boys whom he adores. He has a beautiful house, nice cars, and is currently finishing up 4 beautiful guest rooms on the corner of his property. Not bad for a happy go lucky surfer dude from Hawaii!






Join us in the next edition of Inside Peak as we continue our profile of Tyler, the man, the myth, the LEGEND! (If I can pin him down!)


Great guests, as always, at Safari this week. They came to learn how to surf and made the Surfing Nosara daily webcam! – The photos tell the story!









Thanks for reading!

Pura vida,


The Inside Peak – Activities in Nosara

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Welcome back to the Inside Peak! Wow, here we are in March, hot weather, south swells, Spring Break!

I know I promised to bring you the “Tyler Marsh Story” in this edition but my research is not finished and I’ll have to postpone until next week. It will be worth it……so stay tuned……NEXT WEEK!


Last week I did a review of one of Nosara’s most popular (non-surfing) tours – Miss Sky Canopy Tour. This week I thought I would continue on that line of thought, and feature some of the other fantastic tour and activity offerings available here. Safari Surf can provide further information and help you arrange any of these activities, just ask and we are on it!



Water activities abound in Nosara! Abundant rivers, tide pools, waterfalls, estuaries, bays, and ocean provide for a variety of water sports, offering ideal settings and conditions for beginners through advanced skill levels.


The convergence of the Nosara and Montana Rivers at ‘The Boca’ offers multiple waterways and spectacular scenery, perfect for calm-water kayaking and stand up paddling. A favorite attraction here is the mangrove tunnels where you can paddle through an amazing network of coastal mangroves. At the intersection of land and sea, mangrove forests support a wealth of life, from starfish to people. The relationship between mangroves and their associated marine life cannot be overemphasized. Mangroves provide protected nursery areas for fishes, crustaceans, and shellfish. They also provide food for a multitude of marine species such as snook, snapper, tarpon, jack, sheepshead, red drum, oyster, and shrimp. Mangroves can help prevent erosion by stabilizing shorelines with their specialized root systems. Mangroves also filter water and maintain water quality and clarity.


Stand up paddle tours (SUP) can be conducted on the river or in a variety of ocean conditions.  Safari Surf works with Experience Nosara, a professional full service outfitter providing the latest in equipment and excellent local guides. The cool thing is that they have a storage shed right on the river, so when you book a kayak tour, they also bring along a couple of stand up paddleboards so people can also give them a try. Experience Nosara conducts SUP camps teaching basic and advanced techniques in all facets of the sport.

If you are feeling the call of the wild, try SUP surfing on open ocean swells, a guaranteed buzz! They also provide snorkel and waterfall excursions!


The pristine beaches of San Juanillo (45 minutes north of Nosara) offer the perfect setting for a family day of swimming, snorkeling, and picnicking.  The vast diversity in coastal ecosystems in this region is impressive. Playa Guiones is hard packed light sand, Playa Pelada is defined by volcanic reefs and outcroppings. Ostional is a black sand beach and north of that San Juanillo is punctuated with white coral reefs and crystal clear bays and lagoons.


Everyone loves a waterfall! There are several in our area, some well known, but also a few secret spots. We can help arrange a memorable waterfall hike in between your surf lessons (rainy season June-November).



Costa Rica is known for its world class fishing and the Nosara area is no exception. Far removed from commercial fishing lanes and off the beaten tourist paths, the Nosara area is Costa Rica’s best-kept fishing secret. The nearby 100 fathom ledge bends in towards the beach creating a pool of deep blue water very close to the shore. Our waters are full of Sailfish, Blue Marlin, Black Marlin, Striped Marlin, Snook, Cuberra Snapper, Yellowfin Tuna, Dorado/Mahi-Mahi, Bonita, Rooster Fish and Pago Snapper.  You can charter a boat for offshore trips or hang down at the Boca (river mouth) with Safari Surf instructor/fishing guide Alonso and try your luck for snook.


Nosara was originally dominated by cowboy culture! Every year local town fiestas feature rodeos and Tope (horse dancing) and everyone comes out to celebrate the country life. There are a variety of horseback tours for rider of all experience levels.


Turtle nesting in the Nosara area is a well known phenomenon, famous actually in environmental circles. The beaches of Playa Ostional just to the north is the setting for a rarely-seen biological wonder. The week before new moon hundreds, and sometimes thousands of sea turtles come to one specific mile of beach at Ostional to dig their eggs into the black, volcanic sand. Prompted by some secret signal, the “arribada” will begin. At first, a few hundred turtles will come out on the beach, followed by a steady stream of animals for the next three to seven days. The Ostional Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica was created in 1984 to protect one of the world’s most important nesting sites of the Olive Ridley sea turtle. Amazingly, Ostional is the only beach in the world where harvesting turtle eggs is legal. Scientists found out that most of the eggs deposed in the first nights of an arribada are destroyed by subsequent turtles who dig their nests.  Therefore, since 1987, the government of Costa Rica allows the community of Ostional to harvest the doomed eggs on the first three days of an arribada. In return, the villagers become rangers who protect the turtles, clean debris from the beaches and patrol day and night for poachers.


ATVs or ‘quads’ are a fun way to see the areas diverse coastal nooks, rivers, and mountains.

You can rent a quad for a day or week and also go on various guided tours. One of the more creative operations here is Howling Monkey Adventures. Their website description tells the story:

Howling Monkey offers exhilarating off road adventures, guaranteed to be the highlight of your Costa Rica trip! Drive our TOMCARS and experience Costa Rica’s secluded beaches, untouched wildlife, amazing mountain vistas and pristine sunsets. Our Unique military grade vehicles with our Super Amazing local guides, allow for a safe and thrilling ride into remote jungle terrain to witness Howler Monkeys, exotic birds, and a variety of other jungle dwellers in their native state. Whether you are into surf, snorkel, nature or just pure adrenaline, let us customize a unique adventure for you, your group, family or corporate guests. This is guaranteed to be an adventure that you will never forget!









Thanks for reading! Come back next week for my interview with the man, the myth, the legend… Tyler Marsh!

Pura vida,


May Early Bird Special – Save 10% Today!

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Book Now to Save 10%

Our May Early Bird Special ends April 1st!
Book any package for May from now until April 1st and save 10% off any standard package!

Our new surf instructor from Nosara, Kevin Monteil (pictured below), knows how good the conditions are in May! Or as Tyler says, “Early bird gets the waves in May… and a mango!”


The Inside Peak – A Family Affair

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The Safari Surf experience is about special people sharing the essence of Pura Vida.

Tim and Tyler Marsh knew that had found something special when they came here.  It was about nature and waves, simplicity and clean country living, but especially it was the spirit and heart of the local people that really made a lasting impact on them. Costa Ricans are warm, helpful, friendly, sincere, and loyal to a fault. They love to share the joy they feel just being alive; they want to make you happy! Many lifelong friendships have been forged while on a surfing vacation here, and people stay in touch across the miles and over the years. In Hawaii it is known as “Ohana” – extended family. Here it called Pura Vida.

This week we feature a mother/son duo, Alicia and Luis. Everyone who has visited Casa Tucan over the last few years remembers Alicia. She worked in the restaurant there as a server/bartender and she is a consummate professional. I have seen her handle a full dining room with grace, unbelievable efficiency, and joy. Alicia is of an amazing caliber of server that can take an order from a table of 8 without writing anything down. She is a treasure and we are blessed to have her! Her 20 year old son Luis started surfing 8 years ago and had the benefit of being around the Safari Surf School operation out of the Casa Tucan location. He knew what he wanted to do! Alicia and Luis are true locals and have never strayed far from Nosara. There story is of a country life, farming, horses, pigs, and cows, and clean simple living. I sat with them to get this Inside Peak.

PL: Where were you born?

Alicia: In Nicoya at the hospital

PL: Tell me about your family and growing up here.

Alicia: I grew up in a big family, 6 sisters and 4 brothers. My father was a farmer and we lived on a big ranch just south of Nosara. We grew rice, corn, vegetables, beans, and melons. We always had enough food to go around.

PL: So you were a farm girl?

Alicia: Oh yes, I would milk the cows, sweep out the barn, and help at harvest time, the whole family did. We had horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens and they provided our food. I love horses and was a really good rider at one time.

PL: Where do you live now?

Alicia: We have a house a short distance from the farm we grew up on. I have two sons, Luis and Sebastian, and my husband Quillermo.


PL: When did you start working in restaurants?

Alicia: I started working at the Harbor Reef Lodge in 2000. I worked there a total of 11 years, mostly as a waitress in the restaurant. Then I heard about an opening at Casa Tucan. I was ready for a change and this was a small cozy place. I loved it and made many good friends there. It also introduced me to Safari Surf School which was very cool. I worked there a total of 3 years until it was sold.

PL: What was your biggest tip?

Alicia: One night I got $100 from two different tables!

PL: Now you are at Safari House?

Alicia: Yes, it’s much more private and personal, like being home.

PL: Do you plan to work at Olas Verdes?

Alicia: Oh Si Si Si, I can’t wait.


PL: Have you tried surfing?

Alicia: Yes! I had some lessons with Tinis (Safari female instructor) and love it. The ocean is very special, very powerful. The big waves scare me.

PL: Music?

Alicia: I love la musica romantica, I love to dance!

PL: Food?

Alicia: Camarones (shrimp)

PL: Dream Car?

Alicia: BMW – black with tinted windows!

PL: Dream Vacation?

Alicia: Isla San Andres in Colombia

PL: What is Pura Vida?

Alicia: It means Very Happy, Better than Better

PL: Good answer! Thank you Alicia, now to Luis…..

Alicia: Oh I am very proud of Luis!


PL: I am guess you were born in Nicoya?

Luis: Yes, I am 20 years old

PL: When did you discover surfing?

Luis: I started in High school 8 years ago.

PL: Your nickname “El Gato Volador” means flying cat, what does that mean?

Luis: Gato means cat, I inherited that from my grandpa. Volador means flying, so I am ‘the Flying Cat’.

PL: Does that relate to your surfing style?

Luis: I think so, I love to boost airs!


PL: When did you start teaching for Safari?

LUIS: Well my mom worked at Casa Tucan, I hung out there. All the instructors were surfing buddies and I would watch them with students. I knew this is what I wanted to do.

PL: How long have you been an instructor?

LUIS: I think it has been a couple of years. I passed the ISA certification and Tyler put me on a “trial period”. I think I made it!

PL: What points do you stress when teaching?

LUIS: I start on the beach with lots of stretching, it is very important!


PL: Do you surf in contests?

LUIS: No I don’t like to compete; I guess I am a free surfer!

PL: Places you’ve been surfing?

LUIS: Only on the Nicoya peninsula, there are a lot of secret places around here that nobody knows about.

PL: Dream Surf Trip?

LUIS: Bali

PL: Dream Car?

LUIS: 4×4 truck

PL: iPhone?

LUIS: Not yet but I am saving for one. I do have a smart phone though!

PL: Hobbies?

LUIS: I love to fish and ride horses. My grandfather has a big finca (ranch) where there is a beautiful casacada (waterfall). We sometimes take Safari guests there on horseback.

PL: Describe a perfect day

LUIS: I think its Dec 24-25, Christmas time – mucho fiesta!




Nosara boasts some pretty great non-surfing activities and tours. One of the most popular and my personal favorite is the MISS SKY CANOPY TOUR.

The tour takes place in a series of coastal mountains around 30 minutes from Playa Guiones.

It is a perfect combo of exercise, adventure, nature, and discovery.

Their website description says it all:

Set amidst the unequalled beauty of a Costa Rican forest wilderness is the longest, most exhilarating canopy tour in the world. Traversing majestic mountain ridges and valleys, soaring high above multiple ravines, with breathtaking vistas of rivers, waterfalls and the Pacific Ocean.  Comprised of 21 exhilarating runs, a stopover at the waterfall and river pools for a refreshing swim. Suitable for nature lovers, adventurers, families and all who wish to experience the ultimate canopy tour adventure; Miss Sky Canopy promises to be the experience of a lifetime.

I can attest to this, I’ve been on it ten times. The guides bring it all to life with great energy and humor – they love to play tricks! In the rainy season (May-Nov) you stop off at an amazing waterfall to swim. The tour takes about 4 hours and you will come away positively giddy!


In the next edition of Inside Peak don’t miss an up close and personal interview with the one and only, the irrepressible………


The Inside Peak – Buzz Around Town

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There’s a lot going on in Nosara, new stuff everywhere! The staff interviews will have to wait another week, my fin hit my leg and now I’m out of commission:
injured thigh

Welcome back friends! I had planned to continue with my instructor profile series this week but had an unexpected “anomaly” occur. I was surfing fun small cruising waves a week ago when I had weird accident. I caught a wave and upon standing I must have hit a slippery spot and suddenly proceeded to slide to the front of the board (both feet) at a brisk clip. I didn’t intend to hang ten at this point but found myself on the tip of my surfboard anyway. With all my weight up front, the board became unbalanced and suddenly flipped over and I was deposited right on top of the fins with great force. The impact nailed me on my lateral right thigh, and sent me to bubble land. Luckily it was a mellow day with super clear water. When I surfaced the pain was blinding, so I treaded water until it abated, and of course kept surfing. Upon exiting the water, as I strolled up the path to my vehicle I glanced down and saw the grapefruit size lump on my leg.


My wife diagnosed my wound as a hematoma, which required constant ice and elevation.  I laid low for 4 days and followed her advice, and on day 5 thought I was healed. Therein I felt it appropriate to resume my pre-surf exercise regime of walking up and down our steep driveway swinging dumbbells. After that I decided to give surfing another go, and was stoked to find there was really no pain or restriction. Turns out I was the dumbbell. When I left the water this time the damn thing was badly swollen and black and blue. So I headed home and propped the leg up on pillows once again. My thigh was swollen and deeply bruised and the pressure of the hematoma impeded circulation to my lower leg and foot, which was turning blue. After a couple more days of no improvement the inevitable became apparent: bite the bullet and go to the hospital in Nicoya. Since we have our residency and associated social insurance there would be no cost, but no surfer I know wants to go to the doctor!

Costa Rica is known for its high standards of healthcare and all citizens are covered by the national socialized medicine system. There are also excellent private clinics and hospitals and people come from all over the world for dentistry, cosmetic surgery, etc. There are even programs called “medical tourism” where folks come down, have a facelift, and then go on tours around the country. But this costs money!


The drive to Nicoya takes about 1.5 hours, half of it on bumpy dirt roads. Since this is a social security hospital the place is a madhouse; screaming babies, elderly folks, soccer players holding limbs, and on and on. Trying to navigate the admission process is mind boggling and it’s good to have a helper. Our Tico gardener was with me and saved the day. It took all day, but I got in.

I received excellent care and was released early the next morning. The staff was friendly, sincere, upbeat and professional. BUT there are NO amenities like we are used to in American hospitals. But I won’t go into that! You leave feeling like you were “of the people” and I like that. When we decided to move here we were looking for “a more interesting life”. Man did we ever get it!

Best thing – I will surf again!


Many of our return alumni have had the chance to visit an original Nosara creation called the Black Sheep Pub. Located in the coastal mountains about 30 minutes from Playa Guiones, the pub is the creation of Joe and Helena Wygal originally from Boston. Joe travelled extensively throughout Europe in search of “Pub Culture”, collecting memorabilia from far and wide, and shipped it all here in a container. The pub is an amazing little working museum of sorts.  They are only open for special occasions, New Years, 4th of July, St. Patty’s day, and anniversaries. They celebrated their 8th anniversary on Saturday. If you are here for any of these openings you should go!


Lots of Development Around Town












The Inside Peak – Meet Our Instructors: Pio!

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Inside Peak Instructor Profile: Roger ‘Pio’ Ruiz

‘Faith and Focus’

Pio Ruiz is a well recognized ‘fixture’ around Playa Guiones. He was one of the original locals to parlay his love of surfing into a career both with Safari and the Nosara Surf Shop. Pio’s positivity and innate sense of responsibility make him a very desirable employee. He has been an instructor with Safari Surf School since day one (14 years) and has been the manager of the Nosara Surf Shop for 11 years. He saves his money and owns a killer truck. Don’t talk to Pio about Ticos always being late and lazy, it makes him mad! I have always wanted to find out what make this upstanding, super-responsible surfer tick so here we go!


PL: Are you a Nosara native”

PIO: Yes. I was born in Nicoya in 1975, that was the closest hospital. Back then it was an epic journey to get there.

PL: Everyone calls you PIO. Is that your given name?

PIO: No my real name is Roger, it is actually a common name down here. My parents called me PIO because as a kid I loved to chase the little baby chickens around. They would make these loud non-stop peeps, “PIO PIO PIO”. True story!


PL: Where did you grow up?

PIO: In a little house by the river. I have 4 brothers and 3 sisters. Mom and Dad are still there, you should go meet them (I did!).

(Pio’s hearty salt of the earth parents, the Good Book always present. They are soooo proud of son PIO!)

PL: How long have you been surfing?

PIO: 20 years, maybe longer. All the guys fished and that eventually led us to the ocean. It was hard to ignore those amazing waves, everyday there were waves.


PL How did you become interested in teaching surfing?

PIO: Back in the late 90’s I got a job at Corky Carroll Surf School, it was the only surf school here. I was the “shop rat”, cleaning boards, swept floors, that kind of thing. I would watch the instructors and what a fun life they had making people happy. I knew that’s that what I wanted to be! I actually drove to California and worked at their Huntington Beach School for three years. I had a Visa. When I crossed the border into Arizona I discovered a big mistake on the Visa – my date of birth was listed as 1875, I was 120 years old!


PL: Wow, from Nosara to Irvine and Huntington Beach, what was that like?

PIO: It was all new and exciting, paved roads, endless buildings, fast food! It was a great experience but deep down I missed home, I’m a country boy at heart.


PL: You have been with Safari from day one?

PIO: Yes, it’s been 14 years. Safari Surf School was originally based at the Nosara Surf Shop. Eventually Tim and Tyler leased, and later bought the Casa Tucan and operated the school from there.


PL: You are also the manager of the surf shop?

PIO: Yes I met owner Michael Rourke while working for Safari and we hit it off. I have been there since 2003. It all fits together well; Mike has always been supportive of my work at Safari and vice versa.

PL: What do you like about teaching?

PIO: It’s great because you are in the water, getting exercise and stoking people out.

Surfing changes people’s lives, I can say that because I’ve seen it, still do!



PL: Funniest thing that happened during a lesson”

PIO: This one guy just could not get it when I said “go right, go left” He always went the opposite direction.


PL: You speak English very well. Did you take classes?

PIO: NO! I learned it all just by listening and talking.


PL: You are a man of faith?

PIO: Oh Yes. That picture you have of mom holding the bible; that is how we were raised.

I belong to a great fellowship that includes lots of American surfers. We meet every Thursday and services are in English.


PL: Dream Surf Trip?

PIO: Indonesia. I already have the boards!


PL: Favorite Surfer?

PIO: Australian Mick Fanning “fanning the flame”, Mike even brought me a signed poster from Surf Expo.


PL: Countries surfed?

PIO: USA (Cali), Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua.


Pl: Biggest wave you’ve surfed.

PIO: Pavones 6 years ago, 20 foot faces. They were calling it the biggest swell ever.

PAVONES in southern Costa Rica.

“Rides over a mile, your legs give out”!




PL: Music?

PIO: I like soft music, folk rock, and Christian.


PL: Food?

PIO: Fish Casado (casado means “married” In food terms a casado is a typical Tico dish with fish, rice, black beans, vegetables, and salad all on one plate).


PL: Special Girl?

PIO: I pray for that every night!


PL: I think you’ll find her! Thanks PIO, I really enjoyed talking to you.

PIO: Pura Vida!


This past week we experienced some very extreme tides – high highs and low lows. These “flood tides” are associated with the New Moon Cycle. During the low “minus tides” (below sea level) wonderful tide pools appear, great fun for kids, dogs, families!




Great group this week. Thanks for coming friends!

Top: Wayne, Michael, Ashley, Miriam

Bottom: Eric, Robert, Steve

The Inside Peak – Meet Our Instructors: Alonso!

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Safari Instructor Profiles

This week on the Inside Peak, I begin a series of interviews with Safari Surf School instructors.

Since moving here I have long been fascinated by the amount of heart that our surf instructors put into their lessons. They take it all very personally, in the highest sense. They want their students to experience the same joy, inspiration, thrill, and spirit that surfing gives to them. The essence of the art of teaching is the genesis of Pura Vida. The nature of surf instruction is very intimate. People trust their instructors. Everything is very close, tactile, visceral and in motion. Its wet and salty, its warm, the sun is shining, and all around you are people stoked and hooting, feeling it!
To me you can’t put a value on the experience. I have seen surfing change people for the better!

This is the rhythm of the place, Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica. It is about living the in the moment and finding your place in the ocean.

Alonso Aragon (Chumino)

PL: Everyone calls you Chumino or Chumi. Is there a story behind that?
AA: “Chumino” refers to having coins or ‘change’ clanking around in your pockets. The change here is clunky and heavy, it weighs down your pockets. When I was a kid, I always had a pocketful of change so they called me ‘Chumi’.

PL: Are you a local boy, born and bred here?
AA: I was born in Nicoya in April 1984. We moved to Nosara Centro when I was a young boy.

PL: When did you discover the ocean?
AA: I was introduced to the water at a very young age. I grew up by the Rio Nosara where we fished and went shrimping. The river provided so much food! I fell in love with it immediately. I began surfing when I was 15….I’m almost 30 now so I have been surfing full on for 15 years.

PL: What are your early memories of the area?
AA: Everything was simple and slow. We were very in tune with nature. People shared and helped each other. Lots of families, we were happy, I remember that. We always had enough to eat, a home, family and friends.

“Everyone fished, even the dogs!”

PL: Family?
AA: My mom and grandmother are here. I have 6 brothers, 2 sisters, and heaps of aunts, uncles, and cousins. I live with my son Jay (7 yrs). His mother (Dunia) is my novia!

Son Jay following in dad’s footsteps

Alonso and Dunia

PL: How did you become interested in teaching surfing?
AA: I was a waiter at Casa Tucan, Safari’s old home. It was a small hotel and great restaurant. It was a surf place. I could see how much surfing stoked people, especially the beginners. I decided I wanted to help people learn to surf, to share all the gifts the ocean has given to me my whole life. It seemed like a dream job. I have been with Safari now for 8 years.

PL: Did you have training for this?
AA: Yes. I had to meet all the requirements and standards for ISA (International surfing Association) certification. There is a tough final exam and swim test. I passed!

PL: What do you like about teaching?
AA: The people and the joy they have when they catch a good ride. It is very satisfying and rewarding to pass this happiness on to people. I also love the kids. At Safari we have a program called ‘kids camp’. It a full or half day camp where we surf, play games, make art, and eat together, I love it because I’m a big kid.


PL: I remember Prado (former Safari instructor) telling me that all the best local surfers in the area aspired to become surf instructors. He said there was a “code” amongst his peers that set very high value on “giving the best lesson”.
AA: Yes true, we all wanted to be the best. Everyone wanted to teach for Safari, that was considered the premiere place to teach.

PL:  Any coaching tips, common mistakes, etc.?
AA: It is very important to always stay pointed out to sea. You don’t want to get caught “broadside”, that can knock you down hard. We do lots of beach exercises, pop-ups, that kind of thing. Proper stance, knees bent, back straight, hands by your sides. When we hit the water I am with my students at all times. We all (instructors) wear bright yellow rash guards so they can always find us!


PL: We hear a lot about your fishing accomplishments. Safari even has an activity called “Fish with Alonso” where guests can spend a morning with you at your favorite fishing spot.
AA: Fishing has always been a big part of my life. I just love it. There are huge Robalo (snook)
at the Boca (river mouth). These are excellent eating fish. I have heard these are illegal to take in Florida and other states. Not here!


PL: Favorite Food
AA: fried fish!

PL: Music?
AA: Reggae

PL: Dream surf Trip?
AA: Indonesia

PL: Biggest waves you’ve surfed
AA: 8-10 feet in Nicaragua. I love big waves. I would love to try tow-in surfing.

PL: Describe your perfect day
AA: Starts with early morning at the boca fishing, then surfing big hollow waves. After that I give surfing lessons at Safari. The rest of the day is for being with my family. And fried fish!

Safari’s Guests Last Week–see you next year!





Thanks for reading!

Pura vida,