If you’re reading this, you likely have never surfed before, but something about wave riding has piqued your interest just enough to do a bit of research. If learning to surf is on your bucket list, but you have no idea where to begin, you’ve come to the right place. Safari Surf School has been in the business of teaching surfing for nearly three decades. Our surf school doesn’t just cater to tourists on the beach looking for a photo op. We create lifelong surfers who develop a deep passion for wave riding and continue to progress along their surfing journey long after they depart. If you have a passion for the ocean and are ready to begin your surfing journey, continue reading below for Safari Surf Presents Wave Riding 101: A Beginners Guide to Learning to Surf.
What is Surfing?
Surfing is the act of riding breaking waves using a specifically designed board in the ocean or other large bodies of water. Unlike other popular forms of wave riding, surfing involves standing while riding along the face of the wave. Surfers paddle into waves in a prone position and pop up to their feet as the wave catches them. No matter how progressive surfing becomes, the majority of surf maneuvers are designed to keep the surfer in the pocket of the waves, right in front of the breaking white water moving laterally along the wave’s face.
Learning to Surf (the Right Way)
Every day, hundreds (if not thousands) of new surfers paddle out to lineups all over the planet. Surfers who have never ridden waves before, taken a lesson or been schooled in proper surf etiquette all too often find themselves surfing amongst experienced surfers at advanced waves. To the outsider, surfing may seem insular or even exclusionary, thanks to concepts like localism. These concepts, however, exist to keep surfers safe. If you’re learning to surf, follow these simple steps to ensure you’re learning to surf the right way.
Surf at the Right Wave for Your Skill Level
Too often new surfers paddle out to waves that are well out of their league and endanger themselves and those around you. Avoid this situation by paddling out to a mellow beginner wave. A beginner wave should have a gentle slope, break in a protected cove or beach with relatively small surf, and be far removed from advanced surfers.
2. Use the Right Equipment
New surfers should paddle out on soft top boards that allow them to learn to surf safely. Using a foam board, rather than a traditional fiberglass board, will allow the surfer to surf carefree without worrying about injuring themselves or anyone else when they fall.
3. Take a Lesson
Learning to surf can be a long and difficult process, especially without proper instruction. Taking a surf lesson with a qualified surf instructor will not only keep you safe during your first session, but it will also give you the skills and knowledge you need to progress as a surfer.
4. Learn Surf Etiquette
Surf Etiquette is critical and universal to all lineups. From Indonesia to California, surf etiquette is the same. Learning proper surf etiquette will allow you to seamlessly enter any surf lineup that’s suited to your skill level.
Finding the Right Surf School
Not all surf schools are created equal. The Ideal surf school should take you to a perfect beginner wave, have ISA-accredited surf instructors, and, above all else, have a deep passion for surfing. If you’re serious about learning to surf, why not immerse yourself in it with a surf trip? Surf trips allow you to go all in on surfing for the duration of your trip with a visit to Safari Surf in Costa Rica, Panama, or Ecuador. During your stay, you’ll travel to an exotic location with warm water and surf perfect waves for a week or more under the guidance of the best surf instructors in the business.
Kickstart your surfing journey with a stay at Safari Surf. To find out more about our surf school and what it takes to learn to surf, head to our website. Stay tuned to the Safari Surf blog for more surf tips, travel news, and all things Costa Rica.
Eating in Costa Rica has changed a lot in recent years. Costa Rica has always been known as a hotbed for Latin cuisine that is dominated by fresh fruits, abundant fish, and classic dishes like Gallo Pinto. In the last 10 years, Costa Rica, and Nosara specifically, have undergone a cultural revolution. Nosara has become one of the world’s most desirable health and wellness destinations, and with that title comes a whirlwind of international influence that’s most noticeable while roaming the dirt roads around town looking for a meal. If you’re planning to visit Nosara, bring your appetite. Continue reading below for The Safari Surf Guide to the Best Restaurants in Nosara, Costa Rica.
Best Restaurants in Nosara for Casual Dinning: Beach Dog Café
Located just before the path to Playa Guiones down the road from the Sunset Shack Hotel, Beach Dog Café is one of Nosara’s most iconic restaurants. Serving casual yet delicious meals like burritos, fish tacos, burgers, and more, the Beach Dog Café is perfect for a quick lunch or a laid-back dinner. With live music on the weekends and an extensive cocktail menu, it’s easy to kick back and stay for a while.
Best Coffee in Nosara: Olo Alaia Surf & Brew
If you’re in Playa Guiones searching for a pick-me-up, head to Olo Alaia Surf & Brew. While it’s technically not a restaurant, Ola Alaia still makes our list of the Best Restaurants in Nosara thanks to its killer combination of great coffee, unique surf crafts and supplies, and trendy clothing. Ola Alaia is one part craft coffee shop, one part surf shop, and one part boutique clothing store. Whether you’re looking for a cappuccino or a new board, Ola Alaia’s vibe and service cannot be beaten.
Best Local Meal in Nosara: Rosie Soda Tica
If you’re looking for an authentic Tico meal, you can’t go wrong with Rosie Soda Tica. With two locations in the Playa Guiones area, Rosie Soda Ticas has become a staple of the community through its delicious local offerings with backpacker budget-friendly prices. Try a traditional Gallo Pinto for breakfast or fresh fish for lunch. Rosie’s is open from 8 AM – 3 PM each day and is the perfect post-surf stop.
Best Restaurant with a View: La Luna
La Luna offers guests exceptional views with beachfront dining and a sophisticated menu featuring brick oven pizzas, decadent salads, fresh seafood, and an extensive international wine list. As one of the only on-the-sand dining options in Nosara, La Luna is the ideal spot for date night or sunset cocktails.
Best Cocktails in Nosara: Howler’s Beach Lounge
For craft cocktails and a relaxed yet refined atmosphere, head to Howler’s Beach Lounge. With a tropical ambiance and elevated cocktails and tapas menu, you won’t be disappointed. Meet friends for an evening cocktail, or head there for a post-surf snack. Howler’s Beach Lounge is a great spot to meet friends for a drink, bring a date, or just relax and people-watch with a good book in one hand and a cocktail in the other.
Best Pizza in Nosara: Guiones Brew
Just because you’re in the jungle doesn’t mean you can’t find good pizza. Head to Guiones Brew, where you’ll find the perfect combination of fresh ingredients and innovative menu items. Pick from classic Italian favorites like prosciutto and pesto, or sample something different inspired by local flavors like honey and cashew. With arguably the best pizza in the Guiones area and a stellar craft beer menu, Guiones Brew is a must-try for pizza lovers in Nosara.
Work up an appetite with surf lessons in Nosara through our Costa Rica surf school, Safari Surf! Stay tuned to our blog for all things surfing and Costa Rica.
Surfers have been flocking to Costa Rica since the late 1960s. After the popular surf movie Endless Summer II showcased point break perfection at Ollie’s Point and Witch’s Rock in 1994, the secret was out, and surfers started pouring into the country like never before. With warm water, year-round swell, friendly locals, untouched jungle, and pristine beaches, what’s not to love? Costa Rica has surf on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, but the Pacific side sees year-round swell. With over 630 miles of Pacific coastline, it can be hard to know where to start. Fortunately for surf travelers everywhere, our team at Safari Surf has compiled the ultimate Costa Rica surf guide. Continue reading below for Costa Rica Surf Travel 101: Where to Find the Country’s Best Waves.
Costa Rica Surf Regions
Guanacaste is Costa Rica’s northernmost province on the west coast. Guanacaste was originally part of Nicaragua but voted to join Costa Rica in 1824. It’s never been easier to travel to Guanacaste, thanks to the international airport in Liberia. Guanacaste is home surf towns like our very own Nosara and Tamarindo. The premier surf breaks in Guanacaste include Playa Guiones, Witch’s Rock, Ollie’s Point, Playa Grande, and many more.
The Nicoya Peninsula
Further south, the Nicoya Peninsula juts out and separates the Northern Costa Rican coast from the rest of the country. The Nicoya Peninsula is home to the well-known surf towns of Mal Pais and Playa Santa Teresa. Santa Teresa has boomed in the last few years. What was once a sleepy surf town is now full of trendy shops and restaurants. The area offers stunning scenery and a combination of beach and reef breaks.
Central Costa Rica
The central Costa Rican Coast is the easiest to access from the capital of San José. Home to Coca Barranca, Jaco, and Playa Heromasa, the Central Costa Rican coastline boasts some of the best big wave spots in all of Costa Rica. During large swells, head to the river mouth at Boca Barranca or Playa Hermosa. If you can brave the strong rips and make it out to the lineup, you’ll find some of the best big waves in all of Costa Rica.
Southern Costa Rica
Southern Costa Rica is rugged and rural compared to the north, but it’s also home to some of the best Costa Rica surf. While the southern coast lacks the consistency of Guanacaste or the central coast, with a good swell, the region produces some of the best waves on the planet. Pavones is that wave. Pavones is an endless left-hand point break that seems to break flawlessly for hundreds of meters.
The Caribbean Coast
Costa Rica’s eastern coast has the tropical feel of any Caribbean destination, with electric blue water and warm sunny skies. The Costa Rica surf on the east coast is far less reliable than the surf on the west. Most swells occur during the winter, and most waves break over sharp reef. Still, the region is home to a few world-class setups, like Salsa Bravas, known for steep drops and gaping barrels.
When to surf in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has consistent surf all year, but each season (Dry and Rainy) brings different conditions. The Rainy Season, which falls from April until September, is considered swell season. During the Rainy Season, surfers can expect consistent large surf with all spots firing. The Dry Season, which falls from October until March, sees a decrease in swell size but an increase in offshore winds, thanks to the Popogoyo winds. During the Dry Season, surfers can expect small clean waves, perfect for learning and progression.
Thinking about a Costa Rica surf trip? Our Costa Rica surf school has what it takes to take your surfing to the next level. Join us for surf lessons, surf guiding, and other Costa Rica Adventures.
Our return guests likely know the Safari Surf story, but for those who don’t, we’ve decided to revisit our history as we continue to grow our business operations in Costa Rica and beyond. Safari Surf School, Nosara’s premier Costa Rica surf school, began decades ago, born out of a passion for surfing and a love for Costa Rica, its land, waves, and people. For many, the idea of starting a business in a foreign country is a distant dream that never materializes. For Tim Marsh and Marsi, our founders, it was inevitable. Dive in below to find out how it all began and learn the history of our Costa Rica surf school.
After traveling to Costa Rica to surf in 1995 and falling in love with the country and its waves, Tim and Marsi returned the following year and bought a small market in Garza, where they lived and worked. Making a living selling sandwiches to traveling surfers and fishermen while living on the beach seemed like a dream, but the slow season proved too much to bear, and Tim and Marsi returned to the states.
By 1997, Tim and Marsi had resumed their lives in the States but were still just scraping by. When Marsi revealed she was pregnant, Tim knew he needed to get his act together. He got a job in the mortgage business, bought a house and a Range Rover, and began checking all of life’s boxes. Despite his success, Tim knew that something was missing.
The Turning Point
One day in the late nineties, Tim ran into an old friend, Pat Weber. Pat had started a surf school in California and was living the dream—surfing every day and getting paid to do it. He handed Tim a surf school t-shirt and said to keep in touch. Tim’s run-in with Pat changed everything and gave him the perspective he needed to realize his dreams. He missed the Pura Vida lifestyle, the people, and the waves in Costa Rica.
A Costa Rica Surf School is Born
When Tim was a boy living and surfing on Oahu’s South Shore in Hawaii, he would ask tourist girls if they wanted to learn how to surf. Sitting in his office, Tim realized his dreams were right in front of him all along. “Why not start a Costa Rica surf school?”
Tim called his brother Tyler, who was living in Costa Rica at the time, and proposed starting a Costa Rica surf school. Tyler was enthusiastic about the idea, but neither of them knew how to start a surf school. They used to eat at Casa Tucan in Nosara, so they approached the owners and asked if they could start a surf program based to help attract more guests. They got the OK from the team at Casa Tucan, and the Safari Surf School was born.
The first few years were tough for Safari Surf School, as Tim and Tyler had to work tirelessly to grow the business. Over time, they built a reputation for providing high-quality surf lessons and excellent customer service.They hired experienced, local surf instructors, who were passionate about teaching and spreading stoke.
Safari Surf School Today
Today, Safari Surf School is a premier Costa Rica surf school with 24 years of surf lesson excellence. Located in Playa Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica, we offer surf lessons, surf tours, surf retreats, and so much more. Since opening our doors in 1999, Safari Surf has expanded to Panama and Ecuador with new surf schools with the same founding philosophy based on a love of surfing and spreading stoke and joy to all of our students.
If you’re looking for your next surf adventure, head to Costa Rica. Travelers have been flocking to Costa Rica for decades in pursuit of perfect waves. While some of Costa Rica’s surf towns have grown overpopulated and over-developed, Nosara retains its small-town charm. Known for world-class waves and stunning coastline, this tropical paradise has something for surfers. Whether you’re an experienced surfer yearning to travel to one of Central America’s best beach breaks or a new surfer looking to ride your first wave, our team at our Costa Rica Surf School can show you the ins and outs of our little Costa Rica surf town. Continue reading below for Why Surfing in Nosara Should Be on Your Bucket List.
Surfing Nosara Where There are Perfect Waves for All Levels
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, Nosara has waves perfectly suited for your skill level. With consistent swells all year round, even the off-season days are fun. Playa Guiones is a wide-open beach break with miles of sandbars to choose from. Playa Guiones offers new surfers the chance to catch and ride green waves thanks to the gentle slope of the wave. Down the road in Garza, experienced surfers will find a variety of world-class setups accessible by boat, including left and right point breaks.
Beautiful Beaches and Scenery
Nosara’s stunning coastline never gets old. We’ve seen thousands of sunsets from the shores of Playa Guiones, yet we still walk down each evening as the sun dips below the sea. Surfing Nosara gives you access to unapparelled natural beauty. Where other surf towns in Central America have high-rise hotels and towering resorts, Nosara has protected coastal forests and jungle-clad hills filled with exotic wildlife.
A Surfer’s Paradise
Nosara is a surfer’s paradise in every sense of the word. The town’s environmental protections and development guidelines have turned Nosara into a mecca for surfers, yogis, and travelers. When you’re not surfing Nosara, explore the town. The town is filled with surf shops, boutique clothing stores, charming restaurants, and yoga studios.
A Chance to Disconnect
Nosara is known for its laid-back vibe and commitment to sustainability. With limited development and an emphasis on eco-tourism, it’s the perfect place to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Take a break from technology and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area. If you’re a remote worker, fear not, it’s easy to stay connected in Nosara. With tons of cafes and strong WIFI around town, it’s never been easier to stay connected on a surf trip. Wake up early and catch dawn patrol each day before hopping on your 9 AM Zoom call.
Opportunities for Adventure
While surfing is the main attraction in Nosara, there are plenty of other adventures. Take a zip-line tour through the jungle canopy, go on a horseback ride along the beach, or take a yoga class in one of the many studios in town. There’s always something to do in Nosara.
A Culinary Delight
Nosara has evolved in the last decade into a haven for Foodies. With decadent local flavors and a fine selection of international cuisines, it’s easy to fall in love with the food scene when you’re not surfing Nosara. Start each day with a traditional breakfast of Gallo Pinto or a healthy smoothie bowl and end each night with a meal to remember.
Nosara, Costa Rica, should be on every surfer’s bucket list. With perfect waves, stunning scenery, and a welcoming surfing community, it’s the ultimate destination for any traveling surfing. Book your trip to visit Safari Surf and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
October in Nosara is generally considered to be the slowest month of the year, mainly due to its reputation for abundant rainfall and the majority of the town being “shut down”. Safari Surf School and Olas Verdes have made the commitment to remain open with full services year-round, which has resulted in an unexpectedly busy and eventful month.
The month started off with a very well attended water safety course held at Olas Verdes, conducted by Marvin Perez, who presented curriculum from the International Surfing Association (ISA) and the International Lifesaving Federation (ILS). Twenty-four participants came from all over Costa Rica, Central America, and even Dubai! Later in the month, Marvin held an all-day water safety “Jr. Lifeguard” course for twenty-five local children ranging in age from 7-15 years old. Marvin will also assist in the establishment and operation of two new lifeguard towers on Playa Guiones beginning in December.
Torrential rains inundated Nosara and all of Costa Rica during the first week of October as a result of Tropical Storm Nate, which formed in the Caribbean Sea, east of Costa Rica. The storm pulled moisture
into its circulation from the Pacific Ocean over a three-day period, creating devastating floods and widespread destruction throughout the country. Many families in Nosara lost everything. An amazing
community relief response immediately sprang into action providing food, clothing, shelter, and rebuilding assistance to afflicted victims.
Donations are being accepted at: https://www.gofundme.com/amigos-de-safari-surf-y-olas-verdes
Throughout October the Pura Vida spirit flowed and those who were fortunate enough to visit were treated to our signature hospitality, amazing nature, and killer waves.
Thanks for coming and see you all soon!
In December of 2015, our partner hotel Olas Verdes opened its doors to the public. Touted as the world’s first L.E.E.D. Platinum rated surf hotel in the world, the project has received wide acclaim for its innovative design and management approach. I spoke recently with General Manager Luis Pardo, who has been at the helm of this noteworthy operation since its inception. What does ‘Sustainable’ mean? It’s the ability to run an operation than minimizes the ecological impact, while creating a positive effect to the community and its economy. “We kept 85% of the original trees, planted over 15 times the amount cut, and added near 3,000 native plants. We strive to furnish everything needed for the operation from local sources; supplies, food products, and employees. That’s not always possible, but it is the goal. We are very active with community organizations and invest a good deal of resources in training and development of our staff. We are proud of what we have achieved, but are conscious that it is a continual learning process and requires periodic reviews of our practices.”
Walking the Walk “I lived in the United States for 10 years and worked as a manager for a popular casual dining chain restaurant. It was there I had a huge “epiphany” regarding the throw-away crisis our world is facing – plastic drinking straws! I saw that these straws came in huge boxes, and they were each individually wrapped in paper. They are used one time and then discarded. When I thought it through I pondered the foot print to manufacture, market, and ship them, an incredible expenditure of energy and resources, all ultimately destined for the landfill. This realization had a profound impact on me and inspired me to study and implement sustainable practices in my daily life.”
Sustainable Tourism “Costa Rica endorses an ecological/environmental ethic in its developmental and operational policies. We protect our forests, wildlife, and natural resources. This instills pride and participation in our population. It’s cool to be green! The Costa Rica Tourism Boards states: The development of sustainable tourism must be seen as the balanced interaction between the use of our natural and cultural resources, the improvement of the quality of life among the local communities, and the economic success of the industry, which also contributes to national development.” Olas Verdes – Model of Sustainability “We are so fortunate to have owners who are dedicated to very high standards of ecology and environmentalism. From day one they insisted on building a state of the art sustainable hotel. It takes longer and costs more to do it right from the beginning, but it pays off! ” Sustaining Sustainability “It all comes down to a commitment on a personal level. My employees purchase and use the same biodegradable products the hotel uses for their homes. There is a sense of pride and personal responsibility in being a part of this special operation. They understand why we do not provide drinking straws, iron the bed sheets, or have hair driers in the bathrooms. They want to leave the world a better place for their children.” More details on how Olas Verdes is committing to sustainability.
What’s the most memorable Christmas present you ever received; a train set, a sled, a new surfboard??
Well, Safari Surf School senior instructor Pio Ruiz’s gift to his parents will really blow your mind!
I first caught wind of what Pio was up to six months ago.
His very sweet parents have lived in their little rustico casita down by the river all their lives. Little Pio was born and raised there as were his brothers and sisters. The reason I know about this is that we live quite close by. In dry season we can cross the river into town and would pass by Pio’s folks house every day and smile and wave to them. They would almost always be sitting on the porch, his mom clutching an old oversized Bible. They always appeared peaceful and content, and always waved back. “These are the simple joys of living here” I thought, “the real “Pura Vida”.
So what was Pio doing scouting about on some nearby undeveloped land? I asked him one day and he replied: “my parents own all this property and I am going to build them a new house”.
Well of course this piqued my interest, and I soon learned all about this remarkable man’s lifetime dream. Pio: “Ever since I was a young boy I knew I wanted to do something really special for my parents. They raised me in a loving environment and always took great care of me. They encouraged me to follow my dreams. So I became a surfer at a young age and it became my passion and livelihood”.
Pio has always been a very focused individual. When I first met him he had a bitchin’ 4×4 Toyota truck and took great care of it. I later learned that he owned his own home. When I interviewed him for a Safari ‘Instructor Profile’ three years ago he told me “I don’t like it when I hear people say ‘Tico Time’, which I guess means it’s ok to be late – It’s NOT ok to be late”! As I got to know him better I developed a great admiration for his gentility, sincerity, and big heart. And oh yeah, the boy can surf…
The New House: So it turns out that Pio is very disciplined with his earnings and has been saving for years towards this dream. “My goal was to move them into the house by Christmas of this year and I made it”!!
The term ‘Pura Vida’ has been around in Costa Rica dialect for many decades. In English it translates to ‘pure life.’ In local Tico culture it has become the expression of eternal optimism embodied by the people who live this peaceful, simple, uncluttered life with a deep appreciation for nature, family, and friends.
Kind of reminds you of the real “Christmas Spirit”!!
So good on ya brother Pio! This is a Christmas Story for the ages!!
(Chrysalis Therapeutic Boarding School Group enjoying surf lessons this November)
Safari Surf School recently enjoyed hosting an engaging group of 25 students, parents, and teachers from the Chrysalis Therapeutic Boarding School in Montana for a one week long Surf-Yoga-Service “cultural immersion adventure trip”.
Take a look at this photo. Imagine being the photographer trying to organize this classic image. Imagine producing 25 surfboards, leashes, bars of wax, and sufficient skilled instructors to handle this awesome mob! We were able to organize housing, feeding, and transporting this gang to daily yoga sessions, service activities, recreational treks, and, of course, dinners out on the town. Talk about bringing your own crowd!
The Chrysalis Therapeutic Boarding School is a small private residential boarding school for adolescent girls ages 13-18. The school provides high quality therapeutic services, education, and experiential opportunities to adolescents and their families. Opportunities for creative expression are provided through various classes and workshops, as well as adventure field trips to local and faraway destinations. Executive Director Corey Hickman explained “Our goals for these types of excursions is threefold; cultural immersion, service, and high adventure. We want to teach kids how to have fun in healthy ways. The phrase ‘high on life’ may be overdone, but that’s exactly how we want the girls to feel when they depart. Oh yeah, and we keep them very busy!” I shared with Corey one of my favorite quotes on surfing “There are a million ways to surf, and as long as you’re smiling you’re doing it right.” Corey smiled back and said “so far so good!”.
(Chrysalis Group Warmup!)
Although surfing was surely a highlight, as mentioned, the kids were busy busy busy with many other activities! Each day included a different community service event. Over the week long trip, the group planted trees with Costas Verdes Reforestation Association, assisted in painting the local elementary school and then enjoyed lunch with the kids, completed the sustainability tour at the Olas Verdes Hotel (the lovely home of Safari Surf), and visited the Nosara Refuge for Wildlife. Of course, we also had to get in some zip lining, a waterfall tour, turtle watching in the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, yoga classes (thanks to in-house instructor, Kimber Kinley), and a soccer game with local students (which they won!).
(Reforesting the coastal ecosystem with Costas Verdes Conservation Association)
(Painting and lunch at the local elementary school)
From the ‘behind the scenes’ perspective, accommodating this massive group was a welcomed and completely rewarding undertaking. The Safari Team, headed up by general manager Jeffrey Baltodano, worked long hours keeping things rolling smoothly. Chef Maritza and her mother provided fantastic ‘tipico ’ cuisine using all fresh and local authentic ingredients. Kimber Kinley took time from her busy global travel schedule to spend the week teaching surfing, yoga, and helping with every detail. And of course, the entire team of Safari Instructors were masterful at keeping everyone wet and salty! School Director Corey enlisted the capable assistance of Emily Philips, a Nosara devotee and director of her own private boarding school program called ‘Echo Springs’ in Idaho.
(Emily and Corey with students Lizzie and Lucy)
(Safari Surf staff doing what they do BEST!)
Corey told me that the Chrysalis School takes two ‘travel abroad’ trips a year. Over the years they have visited 24 different countries. I told Corey that when you come to Safari Surf School in Nosara we guarantee “you will get hot, dirty, wet, change colors, and be renewed”. On their last day I asked Corey how it all went. Smiling he replied “so far, so good”.
Thanks for coming guys, we had a blast!
So you’ve mastered the basics: you can paddle and catch waves with ease, stand up and drop in and bottom turn. Now what? The next step is learning to create and maintain speed! Speed is one of the most important elements in surfing. Without it, you won’t be able to perform even the most basic moves and turns. It’s the same with skiing, snowboarding, or pretty much any board type of sport; speed is the key to maneuverability.
With that said, here are some helpful tips to surf faster: Checking and Understanding the Waves
First things first! Before you hop in the water, you have to check the waves. Watching the waves and understanding the type of wave / break it is will certainly help you understand how to ride the actual wave. I almost always sit and watch waves for about 10 minutes, especially at new breaks I’ve never surfed before. By watching the waves and how they are breaking you can see where the “sections” that are faster come along while the wave is breaking, where it may close out, where it may soften or slow down, etc. Of course there is no substitute for actually riding the wave. At least seeing how it is breaking before you jump on them will help – especially with watching a few waves other surfers catch and seeing how they ride the wave to completion. Bottom Turn – Stay High!
Your initial bottom turn is the key to your entire wave. By timing it right, staying low with a low center of gravity, with legs bent and coiled like a spring, you should release that “coil” spring in your legs to project yourself down the line. This will automatically thrust yourself down the line and high up on the face of the wave. That initial burst of speed is the catalyst for the rest of your wave. As they say in surfing, “Your bottom turn is EVERYTHING.” Once you have propelled yourself forward from that initial bottom turn and you find yourself on the upper third of the wave…this is where you will always reach the apex of speed on a wave. Stay Close to the Pocket (“S” Turns)
Staying close to the energy source (the pocket) is a key factor in maintaining speed, for as the closer you are to the curl or epicenter of the waves power source the faster you will go. The wave will dictate what your next move is but in this little piece I’m going to explain how to keep your speed or if need be, even go faster. (I’ll cover slowing down / cutbacks at another time).
The classic “S” turn, or as we surfers say a lot “pumping down the line,” are terms for generating and keeping our board speed high. The “S” turn is really quite simple and I equate it to a coiled spring that contracts and expands. If you’ve ever watched a surf movie, or perhaps above average surfers at the beach, you notice this when the surfers are “pumping” or expanding and contracting like a coil to gain speed on a wave. While going high on the wave then low, then high, then low – ”pumping” their legs from a bent (contracted) to extended (expand) position in rapid succession – they are creating the speed needed to go faster down the line of the wave. Keep Your Board Clean (and Fins)
Make sure to clean the bottom of your board. This will help you move faster on the water. Believe it or not but I see people all the time with wax marks on the bottom of their boards from boards laying on each other, or whatever other reason. Your fins also have a lot to do with speed, as does the design of your surfboard (yet another article topic coming soon).
Relax and Watch
I cannot emphasize to you how important it is to watch other surfers in the line up. This is a great way to see other people’s styles and also how they “read” the wave while surfing it. Of course this is also a great way to self-teach, too. Just relax and let the waves come to you. Like anything else, practice, practice, practice each maneuver until you have the confidence to know that you can execute whenever you need them. Aloha!
“Team Building, as defined by Wikipedia, is the use of different types of team experiences and activities that are aimed at enhancing social relations and clarifying team members’ roles, as well as solving tasks, achieving results, meeting goals, and improving performance”.
I was surprised not to see the word motivation used in any of the team building definitions I read as I researched this subject. Safari Surfs’ recent trip to Nicaragua certainly motivated me in relation to doing my best. Safari owners Tim and Marsi Marsh have wanted to take the gang on a little ‘employee appreciation’ surf trip for some time. Everything aligned at the end of May, and we were finally able to slip away together for a few days. Our destination was the recently finished La Jolla de Guasacate resort in the wave-rich Popoyo region of southern Nicaragua. Safari Surf School recently launched a new learn-to-surf package in this spectacular location and we were all excited to see it. “La Jolla” means JEWEL, and man does the place ever live up to that description! I do not know if Tim and Marsi ever considered this getaway to be a team building experience, but from my viewpoint this little trip put fresh wind in all of our sails. As we prepare to move into the brand spanking new Olas Verdes Sustainable Surfing Resort next month, Safari Surf has never been more optimistic and stoked!
PETER JEFFRY TIM ALI AND MARITZA PIO JORDANI
The plan was to leave at midnight, get to the border crossing at 4am, and be in the water at 8am. Tim and I had both flown in from the states the same day and we knew we would be a more than a little fuzzy. I arrived ten minutes late at 12:10 am and the crew was all there amping to get underway. The boards were all loaded on top and we jammed into the very capable Safari van. Weird things happen when you have no sleep, you begin to “see things”. But we were adrenalized by the good vibes and energy surrounding the trip.
La Frontera (the border)
“One thing you learn here is patience” – Tim Marsh
Timmy’s wise words reverberated in my head as we approached the Nicaraguan border. I had visited Nicaragua before, but never entered this way (I’d flown into Managua). The first thing we learned was that the border crossing offices did not open until 6am. We watched as a line formed at the checkpoint. When we saw a crowded bus unload its passengers into the growing mob we realized we should be in line, not slouched out in the van. We were planning to lock down the van in a guarded parking area and Bob (La Jolla owner/operator) would meet us on the other side. The scene was chaotic and confusing, but we managed to park the van and join the line for the two hour wait.
It was about at this point that Luis discovered he did not have his passport. There was no way to sugar coat this dilemma; he had to take a bus back to Nosara. He called his girlfriend Laura to tell her the news and she responding by saying “no worries, I will bring it up to you”!
One of the fascinating things about living here is people watching. I am amazed at the women I meet who are traveling through Central America solo, carrying only a backpack. They speak multiple languages and seem to navigate what I call the ‘third world follies ‘with determination and no fear. Laura is from Australia and she does not speak Spanish, but somehow she threaded together three bus rides to reach the border, and she and Luis made it to La Jolla by 5pm – happy hour! The rest of our merry group trudged through the arduous and hectic border crossing routine and were met by Bob who had arranged for a large van to take us to the hotel.
I’d been to Nicaragua twice before, my last visit was in 2000. I was anxious to see what had changed in fifteen years. Nicaragua and Costa Rica share the Pacific Ocean and Spanish language, but that’s about it. I was astonished at the differences. The Pan American Highway is in excellent condition. The southern portion of Nicaragua is bordered by Lake Nicaragua which is huge, almost like a small ocean. The strategic positioning of the lake creates steady offshore winds which blow all day long.
Huge modern windmills dot the countryside, taking advantage of the gusty winds to create electricity. The cost of living is significantly lower than in Costa Rica; the price of land, goods, and services are a fraction of what we pay in Nosara. We turned off the paved highway and proceeded west on a good dirt road. Once we approached the beach region it was apparent how much it had changed. Dozens of private homes, beach hotels and surf camps, dot the coastline and hillsides. “Surf Colonization” had begun invading the surf zones about 12 years ago. The number of quality surf spots and cheap cost of living began to pull investors away from Costa Rica. In Nicaragua there is no discernable middle class; the rich and the poor coexist under the same sun. The Popoyo region is loaded with great surf spots, many accessible only by boat. Add in the round-the-clock offshore winds and you’ve got surf fever!
Stunning wave-rich coastline = Surf Colonization
La Jolla de Guasacate
The La Jolla resort is the brainchild of Tim Siviter, who also maintains some beautiful rental homes in Playa Guiones. After about a year Tim brought in a partner, Bob Eason, who runs the hotel along with his lovely wife Ditmara. I had a captivating talk with Bob about his experiences over the years in Central America. At one time Bob owned the very successful surfwear brand called Picante, but his heart was in Nicaragua and he eventually sold everything and returned to the simple life he loved. The La Jolla Resort occupies 50 acres of prime ocean view land. There are currently 11 fully appointed rooms with another 12 on the way. There is also a large, beautifully furnished private home that can be rented for groups and families. Additionally there are 114 lots for sale within an exclusive gated community, but hurry – 70 have already sold! The furnishings and amenities are modern and upscale. After our all-night jaunt and chaotic border crossing, we were all swept away by the special beauty and comfort of the place. Bobs heart has always been ‘for the people’ and he is very focused on taking care of the locals. “For 30 years these people have lived at subsistence level with no assistance from the government” Bob points out, “but they still have huge smiles on their faces”. The hotel website: http://www.lajollahotelnica.com.
Owner/Operators Bob & Ditmara Eason
Nicaragua has abundant, incredible surf. The coastline is punctuated with numerous points, coves, reefs, river mouths, and sandbars producing a variety of surfing conditions suited to all ability levels. Many of these spots are only accessible by boat. Each morning our ‘A Team’ explored by boat, while Laura and I set out in search of softer breaks where Safari Surf guests are taken for their lessons. Everyone came back stoked.
The A-Team in action at Colorados
Nicaragua offers a unique cultural experience in a wave-saturated ocean playground. The food, service, and cushy comfort level of La Jolla is off the charts. Non-surfing activities include golf, horseback riding, stand-up paddling, volcanoes, fishing, kayaking, and other custom tours. Grenada is a great day trip for exploring classic colonial architecture, sightseeing, shopping and dining. Bob and Ditmara are wonderful hosts and tend to every detail to insure your comfort and stoke level.
Safari Surfs ‘Nica 2015’ trip brought us closer together and filled us with inspiration.
When is the last time you sat around a table with family or friends sharing good food, talking story, and laughing out loud? Hats off and big thanks to Tim and Marsi Marsh for such a marvelous experience. As Tim said “when it comes right down to it we are a family” Life’s a trip, better pack your bags! We look forward to your visit.
What comes to mind when one thinks about Bermuda? For sure the Bermuda Triangle pops up, but anything else? I venture that most of us (like myself) knows very little about this fascinating island.
Bermuda is the most northerly group of coral islands in the world, lying just beyond the Gulf Stream some 650 miles off the coast of the Carolinas. Although very small and isolated in its part of the ocean, it offers a wide variety of places to see, people to meet, and things to do. With an economy based on tourism and international business, Bermudians enjoy a high standard of living with almost no unemployment, no national debt, and no income tax. Sounds like paradise to me! Google Bermuda and your senses are bombarded by a panorama of dreamy blue seascapes – every shade of blue imaginable! One of the great joys of living in Nosara and working at Safari Surf is that it opens a portal to the big wide world we live in. The Bermuda-Nosara connection was spawned five years ago by long time Bermudians the Hammond family. “We were looking for a vacation where the boys could learn to surf, at least stand up” Sharon Hammond reflects. “Richard did a lot of research on the internet and found Safari Surf and signed us up”. “Everything about that first trip just resonated, says Richard, we all loved it; the waves, the food, the spirited people, and we kept returning for more”. As is likely to happen, it’s hard to keep a good secret, and as the Hammonds relayed their surf stories to close friends, the connection grew. “I reckon we are now up to around thirty-five fellow Bermudians that love the place and return every year”. And you have never met more affable, gentle, lovely slice humanity anywhere. It dawned on me that this is how Nosara continues to grow, with these kinds of good hearted, fun-loving families tuning into the Pura Vida. It’s magical, really!
Meet the Hammonds – Richard, Rudi, Louie, Sharon
We always love when Team Bermuda is in da house! Talk about energy, they are all buzzing with stoke and can’t wait to get wet. I reflect on my past trips here when we lived in Florida. I was absolutely rabid to catch as many waves as possible, and bottle it all up to get me through the flat spells. The beauty of this place is that there are always waves breaking out there, it is a constant, a defining gift that Nosara proudly offers. Bermuda is ringed by a coral barrier reef which results in beautiful calm swimming beaches, but also prevents consistent rideable surfing waves from forming. Nosara’s ever-reliable consistency can take care of our surf-starved friends in no time!
Bermudas Barrier Reefs “consume” Incoming Wave Energy
Here a kite surfer rides the wind!
Rudi and Louie
Serious Q & A with my new bros
Over the years I have watched Rudi (12) and Louie (11) not just become better surfers, but also turn into solid people. Surfing does that, it immerses you in something larger and very powerful, what I like to call Big Blue. They are easy going and fun-loving. They love the food here and are always hungry! “Fish, plantains, and Britt chocolates” the lads enthusiastically exclaim. They already have monikers or nicknames, perhaps to keep in pace with instructors Chumi, Gato, Hellboy, and Pio!
‘Tsumani Rudi Gabas’ on a Screamer!
‘Big Wave Louie’ Sets up a nice Bottom Turn
Richard and Sharon
It is interesting how many doctors come to Safari Surf. Richard and Sharon are M.D.s in Bermuda.
I asked them what fuels the economy there: “tourism has been overtaking by the reinsurance industry” explains Richard. What is that I asked? “Reinsurance is insurance issued for Insurance Companies, and Bermuda is a leading hub for this”. When asked about Bermudas beaches, Sharon says “oh we have many lovely beaches here, perfect for snorkeling and swimming, but few waves”.
Richard Backdoors a Nice Section
Sharon Pulling in at the Boca
Beautiful Seascapes but No Waves!
The Bermuda Triangle
The real Bermuda Triangle in my book is the connection to Nosara spawned by the Hammonds’ sharing with their friends via the Coconut Telegraph. Richard says “we would come back after these fabulous surfing vacations and spread the word to our best friends. They would look at the photos of the whole family surfing together and one by one more families joined the next trip.” “Let’s see” says Sharon, “We have the Pecketts, Outerbridges, Skinners, Betts, Kendalls, and Wojo’s, that’s nearly 40 people!”. Many thanks to all of our Bermuda families for coming – our house is yours!
Safari Surf recently had the privilege of welcoming Stan and Olga into our family. They stayed with us for a month, and the idea was that they would trade out breakfast and room at the Safari House in exchange for a couple of promo videos, to be posted on the Safari Surf website, Facebook page, and other social media sites. Stan and Olga are from Germany, where it is very, very cold right now so, they were happy to take a break from the cold in Nosara. Their “assignment” was to soak up the “Safari Vibe” and translate this to video. Having founded the adventure travel blog website http://www.epiclist.com, they were no strangers to “extreme adrenaline sports”, and were familiar with surfing, but in their time here, they fully embracedthe essence of surfing and pura vida, which is captured brilliantly in their video creations. At the end of their 1st published video they encourage us to “join the family”, which is exactly what we are. I feel like we are in the 1970’s again! Check it out here: https://vimeo.com/119782826.
Stay tuned to Safari Surf for more from Stan and Olga. And muchas gracias for the stoke lift you two!
Stan and Olga at work
Family Vacations at Safari Surf
Traveling to Costa Rica with your family is an enriching experience for everyone. You will be immersed in a culture and adventure that takes place outside of your iPhone! When I fly Northbound from San Jose to Orlando, Florida to visit my daughter, the planes are full of excited Costa Rican families heading to Disney World; but the Southbound flights are full of Americanos headed to paradise for surfing, kayaking, horseback riding, fishing, zip lining, and yoga. Surfing brings people together and creates a memorable bonding experience for families. Meal times are generally long, leisurely affairs around a happy table where people actually talk to one another. It is definitely quality time!
Strong Family Unit
Bill Curley and family love surfing so much that they bought a vacation home here
One Big Happy Family
Whether you come as a single solo-traveler or bring your husband/wife and kiddos along, everyone becomes part of the family. You surf together, zipline, kayak, ride horses……you get to know everyone in town.
Safari welcomes a huge amount of return clients, we call them our alumni.
Family Horseback Tour
Families that Zipline together, stay together!
Sam & Jeff Chandler – football bonding
Around the Table
Safari Surf guests share breakfast and dinners together every day. The conversation is lively and spirited and the television is turned off!
Sam’s Birthday Celebration!
Three Generations of Lewis Girls!
The Wagner Family dining under the stars
JOIN THE SAFARI FAMILY TODAY!
Sure it sounds like the old cliché, but down here ‘Lo Que Hay’ (it is what it is!).
Come on down to Safari Surf for Spring break, its way better than Ft. Lauderdale!
Student group from Guilford College in North Carolina
I have always been fascinated by the depth of Marlon Illig. For example, he speaks fluent German. For a lad raised in rural Nosara, this strikes me as interesting and unusual. Marlon is one of the New Breed of Safari instructors that joined us this season. Safari hosts a fair amount of Europeans this time of year and many happen to be German. Imagine coming to Costa Rica from Germany to a surf school and finding that your instructor speaks German! Marlon is educated, informed, and quite worldly. I was intrigued the other day when I overheard him talking movies and critiquing actors and directors with some guests. Oh yeah, he also speaks fluent English! I sat down with Marlon to get the skinny.
PL: Everyone knows you as Jeffrey’s brother, but he doesn’t speak German?
Marlon: Well it’s a long story, but I was adopted!
PL: So explain the Germany connection.
Marlon: I was born in Germany and am a German citizen as well as Costa Rican. At 2 yrs old mom moved us to Nosara. She had been there before and longed to return. So Nosara is where I grew up.
All Men are Brothers!
PL: When did you start surfing?
Marlon: I started 4 years ago. Since I starting teaching with Safari this season I had a kind of “rebirth” and fell in love with surfing all over again. I can’t get enough now!
PL: You are a great with people and seem to have found the perfect fit with surf instruction. What do you like about it?
Marlon: The best part is watching the transformation that people go through here. When they arrive they are all white and pasty and stressed from their busy lives. After a few days they are totally transformed, physically, mentally, and spiritually. They develop a new self confidence and inner stoke. It is such a priceless thing to observe and be part of!
PL: You recently turned 18. What are your future plans?
Marlon: I am going back to Germany in two months, after high season. My dream is to become a pilot and I am looking to enroll in flight school there. I plan to return next high season (Dec-April) to work at Safari, save money, and continue my schooling in Germany.
PL: Wow what a great goal. Viel Glück an euch mein Bruder! (Best of luck to you my brother).