You’ve seen the perfect marketing pics we use to promote Costa Rica and sell the “last few spaces” on our Surf & Yoga Adventures and you’ve heard us use the term “Paradise” in countless social media posts and newsletters to describe the sleepy surf town Santa Teresa, but Costa Rica is truly a place that you have to visit, to understand, appreciate and feel pure life; Pura Vida.
LIVE underwater volcano! All pics Jessie Stewart
As you step out of the airport and inhale a large lungful of the surprisingly unhumid and gloriously fresh air, you see that you are surrounded by the lungs of the earth; there’s rainforest all around surrounded by active Volcanos towering into the clouds extending as far as the horizon. It’s all pretty breathtaking stuff and you’re only in Alajuela, sweating in the Miami style sun with thirty Tico Taxi touts offering their services in Miami Vice accents. Usually being a budget conscious surf traveler you would wave off such hassle with your Lonely Planet Guide but there’s no need to be so dismissive, on the contrary, from the moment you step out of the plane, you are in welcome arms so enjoy the embrace. I’ve been in arrivals at San Jose Airport half a dozen times and every time used this genuine service of getting guided to a legit taxi from an enthusiastic Costa Rican who doesn’t even expect, let alone ask for a tip.
Now don’t get me wrong Costa Ricans can hustle and are seemingly pretty good at business as their country boasts the strongest economy in Central America, but they are also very helpful, kind and proud people who welcome responsible tourism, as the old saying (that I think one of my Errant brethren made up) goes; “act as a guest and you’ll be treated like a local” and to quote myself “master the vocals hang with the locals”, so welcome arms are always outstretched for respectful travelers.
I’ve been in contact (en Espanol) with the friends I made out there over the past year to ensure that the 2015 Surf & Yoga Adventure was the best it could be for our crew, whilst working with the local community and ensuring we put back into the local economy, meaning everyone’s happy. So we worked with four local surf coaches and hired boards from the local shop 360 instead of taking our own guys and gear and we rented apartments at the original Santa Teresa surf lodge. To be respectful of the worries the locals have on tourism growth, instead of selling to the masses and getting the margins high, we set a limited amount of spaces (just ten per trip) and only run one trip per year due to the airports proximity to the rainforest, thus giving a handful of Errant customers the true Pura Vida experience. With the demand for Costa Rica being so high, this may not make great business sense, but Costa Rica isn’t there to be exploited and we respect that.
Pura Vida is all about love; love to the land, the ocean, your environment, yourself and the people. To the whole Costa Rica 2015 crew there was a lot of love and I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved:
Yours truly with a firm grip on a pre-surf banana of course
Bert, thank you for the fables of your colourful life and well done on your progession with the surf and yoga; looking nimble and quick on your feet now mate.
Clemence, for your constant injections of endless energy, even at tired times.
Danny, the tireless, most enthusiastic surf coach I’ve ever met.
Don Jon, for hosting us and making every feel at home away from home. Also for the impromptu parties at inappropriate times.
Dulcie for the Kernow connection and whitty banter in the comforting Cornish Maid accent.
Ellie for the calming vibes and positivive attitude
Gemma, for never failing to tell a story less than hilarious
Jake, the coolest cat I’ve ever met and one of the most stylish forehand bottom turns going
Jasmine for getting us all into some sticky situations
Jeffa for your Bear Grylls skills
Jenny, thank you for your innocent and inquisitive nature
Jenorie, for being an inspiration to the females
Jessie for the awesome shots and unquenchable thirst
Jodie, the most entertaining driver ever. Ma Brother.
Jon for getting us all into the best waves, hassle-free, every single day.
Lauren for the HUGE smiles
Matt, for your enthusiasm, positivity and pure life stoke
Max for everything being awesome
Max the Cat for being an entertaining selfish little brat
And Olivia for being the most determined surfer and of course the delicious culinary masterpieces.
But most importantly for Costa Rica for having us. Muchos gracias.
Every surf trip you learn something new, so here are my top tips for anyone thinking of heading to Costa Rica:
- If you’re on a BA / Iberia flight take as many boards as your baggage weight allowance allows going with you and sell them before you leave, except your favourite one you want to bring home. You usually fly the first leg of the trip with BA, which has a reasonable surfboard policy, then Madrid to Costa Rica with Iberia. On return this is obviously reversed and Iberia have the worst surfboard policy going. The jobsworth at check-in unzipped my board bag and charged me $100 per board.
- Budget slightly more for food if you want to eat out at the U.S. Style places as they add tax and service. Local sodas are still decent priced and delicious. $5 dinners de nada.
- Take a skateboard if you skate as there are secret skateparks everywhere, including a sick concrete bowl at the house opposite Don Jons in Santa Teresa and one in Puerto Viejo, as well as a real strong skate scene in San Jose.
- Prepare for sunstroke, but plan for the worst. Jake was hallucinating and talking gibberish and turned out to be sunstroke, whereas Ellie seemed a bit tired and not herself, which turned out to be dengue fever that literally makes you feel like you’re dying.
- Take a water filter as water costs loads. We were spending at least $5 a day on water.
- Don’t bother driving from the Pacific Coast to the Caribbean ‘for the roadtrip’. A simple 8 hour drive can turn into a 20 hour trip in one wrong turn. But that’s another blog…