01 Safari’s History
Back in the day
We first traveled to Costa Rica in 1995, my wife and I along with some friends on a surf adventure. We traveled the entire Pacific coast during our maiden voyage. Stopping one night during the pouring rain looking for shelter in a town called Garza. An expat stranger took us in and we wound up staying in that area for 4 days. We all loved the area, the surf, the local people… everything about it.
Tim & Marsi… on the road to paradise!”
Both my Marsi and I could not resist the “pura vida” lifestyle and we pushed all of our chips in… you know, like foolish young people tend to do without really thinking it through. The best decision we ever made!! We flew back to the states… sold everything and moved to Costa Rica in 1996.
Living in the tiny fishing town of Garza where we were the only gringos and were obviously the talk of the town, our 2 pug dogs were all the fodder and I can’t remember how many people we had to refuse to sell our pugs to! For some perspective, we lived in the back of the market in a tiny room. There were no computers, no telephones, no TV, no internet (obviously)… nada! Talk about signing off from the world around us… we did just that!
Proud owners of a new mini market in Garza Bay… circa 1996
We cleaned out the old abandoned mini market and freshly painted the new “Pura Vida Ville” Market where we created a deli to make sandwiches and such for all the fishermen and surfers passing through.
During our time there we made many local and expat friends in Playa Guiones. Our market was doing ok and we were just living the dream as they say. So much so that I called my brother Tyler who was still living at home in Hawaii and told him to come and check this place out. I told him it was like a mixture of Aloha spirit and Pura Vida vibes… just a great vibe.
Tyler came and decided he loved it as well and decided to move there in Nosara.
Tyler loved Costa Rica like Tim & Marsi did …just good vibes!
Marsi working hard at the mini market, while Tim’s out surfing
Reality struck in the most cruel way… the slow season back in those days was REALLY slow. As in ghost town slow. Long story short it wasn’t long before Marsi and I were eating and drinking all of our market products as the days dragged into weeks with little to no business.
One year later we realized our dream had come to an end. We had no business and no money to speak of. But what we did have was an absolutely amazing life adventure making a lot of close friends and future “contacts” for things to come.
Pat Weber (on the left) or as people like to call him Coach Pat
Safari Surf was Created
Sunny Garcia with Marsh brothers
During our year or so that we lived in Garza we used to go into Nosara to find places to eat and one of our favorites was called the Casa Tucan. We knew the owners and the manager and we asked if they might be interested in having a surf program based there at their hotel and all the guests we will bring will stay at their hotel. BOOM… we had a location!
An associate working with me in my mortgage office happened to be a computer dude… and could create a website for us. I bartered with him and told him I’d put him and his girl up in Costa Rica in exchange for building us a website. WALA! We were on the internet. Safari Surf School was created in 1998 and opened its proverbial doors in 1999. Safari Surf School was one of the first organized all inclusive surf programs in all of Costa Rica at that time.
Safari Surf’s first home
Another busy night at the Safari’s restaurant
Things changed exponentially for Safari Surf in 2006. One of our guests emailed me about the incredible trip they had had and how they were telling all of the friends and family about coming to join us and the experience we had on offer. He told me to give him a call so I did. After a few minutes of gushing about his time with us he stopped and said something I’ll never forget… he said “Tim, you have an incredible product to offer but your website… well, its GHETTO!”
And I’m like “ghetto”? He proceeded to tell me how my website needed so much help and how much better we could be doing with some help on the website. Of course I offered him a bartering deal… make my website un-ghetto in exchange for another trip to Safari.
Sunny Garcia & the team Safari
With that new updated website Safari Surf School’s sales rose to new heights that I hadn’t even imagined possible. And that was only the beginning… well, middle I guess.
Casa Tucan Daze
Pete at the office
The last picture of Casa Tucan, end of the first chapter
Change of Plans
For the next 2 + years Safari Surf School was based in a house on the property we invested in. This while our hotel property was being designed and built.
I presented my new partners with the idea of creating a fully sustainable hotel and also working with a good friends of mine Carl Kish and Dr. Jess Ponting from STOKE Certified to help us create a LEED (Leader in Energy and Environmental Design) certified hotel. I brought Carl in and he sold the rest of the investors on the ideal of building responsibly and becoming a model for other hotels and businesses to follow. Carl was hired as our project manager and did an absolutely incredible job. So much so that in the end our new hotel name “Olas Verdes”, was presented with the highest certificate from LEED… Platinum!
Tim & Carl Kish
New Beginning - Olas Verdes Hotel
In 2015 upon opening, Olas Verdes was the first hotel in Central America to receive the LEED Platinum Certification. Something I will always remember and be very proud of to have accomplished. Safari Surf put on an amazing grand opening ceremony for the hotel by bringing in singer songwriter G-Love for a concert and benefit event… such good times! My daughter Camille opened the show for G love and was asked to perform a song with him too… such cool memories.
Safari Surf - Branching Out
Just another lazy day on the beach
Also in 2015 Safari Surf created a women’s only program. This program was created to focus on the growing sector of women who are interested in surfing and the surf culture. Obviously we were a little late to the table as women’s surfing in general has exploded over the years. But, we needed the right people to run it and the right people to create the perfect program and have the right vision for it. We have had some changes over the years with our personnel to run this program and have finally found the perfect person who is now the director of the Women’s Retreat program for Safari Surf… Daniela Muñoz. Dani as she prefers to be called, continues to create and run a surf program experience that is second to none to this day.
Dani – director of the Women’s Retreat program
Cristobal ‘Trico’ Rangel – your host with the most in Panama
In early 2020 as everyone knows… a hideous virus called COVID 19 hit the globe like a right hook from Mike Tyson. Safari Surf as with most of the travel industry hunkered down for the incredible year that was not. As in it was not in business but just trying to stay afloat like everyone else. Fortunately we were able to weather the storm with some financial help from uncle Sam.
Safari Surf Expanding its Offerings
In late 2021 Safari Surf made an investment into its future by adding some major activities on offer for Safari guests to take advantage of. One was the purchase of our Safari Surf “Adventures” boat named “Vilocity”. This 23 foot outboard motor beauty was set up not only for fishing trips but also surf trips exploring the coast to the North and South of our location. We are so excited to have this adventure option for our guests. Offering everything from fishing, surfing, snorkeling, inflatable tube rides to sunset tours… we love our boat!
The Safari ‘Vilocity’ boat
In addition Safari also added a 4X4 luxury truck to its fleet to be able to offer sirf trips via land to secret spots as well as taking guests on sightseeing tours and shopping in local towns! It is all about the experience and Safari is making sure we offer the best.
Safari’s 4X4 exploration luxury truck