Hang Ten! Easy Surfing Vacations from Costa Rica to California
Scared of big waves? Check. Terrified of sharks? Absolutely. Afraid of being wiped out and looking foolish? Yes! These seem like perfect reasons not to take a surfing lesson, still I ignored all of these very rational fears and caught waves in Costa Rica this summer.
I asked wave-loving brothers Alex Faherty and his twin, Mike, who hail from the beach town of Spring Lake, N.J., but have spent more than a decade surfing in Costa Rica, for the inside scoop on great beginner waves.
At Costa Rica's Witch’s Rock, the waves are a bit intense for beginners. (Photo: Witch’s Rock Surf Camp/Flickr)
Naturally I’d heard about the legendary Witch’s Rock in Costa Rica as “the ultimate surf experience” and wanted to try that out. Thankfully Alex suggested calmer waters until I got my surf legs.
The brothers, who are surf ambassadors at the recently opened Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort in Costa Rica, also have their own namesake surf brand store in SoHo in New York City that has seriously cute bikinis. I snapped up a Japanese navy floral bikini I imagined I could wear while catching waves to the shore — err, if I caught waves that is — at least I’d look good doing it. As it turned out, a rashguard is a must. Even if the water is warm, it’s necessary for sun protection, and for newbies, it helps prevent skin from rubbing against the board.
A vintage surf bus courtesy of Andaz. (Photo: Julie Earle-Levine)
But back to surfing. I followed Alex’s tips to try out Iguanita, a beautiful beach at the back of Bahía Culebra, which is bordered to the north and south by two rocky points.
To get surfing-ready, I had fresh Costa Rican coffee by the hotel’s barista and a light bite — by the way, surfing on an empty stomach and only coffee is not recommended. Iguanita, which is a short trip across the bay from the Andaz property, can be reached by boat. After a brief surf lesson on the beach, where I lay on my board like a turtle and paddled like crazy for practice, it was time to try it in the water. Lying on a big, soft foam board was fun. Actually standing up and catching a wave was even better.
The author, fresh from surfing in Costa Rica (Photo: Julie Earle-Levine)