Connection in Costa Rica

In Spotlight by Daniel

I sat on the beach in Nosara. 

My first time on the sands of Costa Rica. The weather was warm and the air smelled of a pleasant fresh salt like only coastal towns could smell. Down the narrow dirt road, fresh papaya was being passed from the street vendor to happy customers and the bright red shade of the fruit looked different from the dull orange papayas I saw back home. 

Surfers were in the waves curling under lips and flipping crisp hair out of their eyes. There were plenty of families too. They all sat underneath something- umbrellas, trees, tents, it didn’t matter.

Clocks seemed to no longer exist. Time sank underneath the blue water in the day. And only resurfaced to remind visitors to watch the sunset over the distant horizon. When that moment came, everyone lined on the beach to wave goodbye to another pleasant day in paradise. Cheers of, “Pura Vida!” would often escape the lips of visitors and locals. It was enough to consider a move.

I was there to meet two of my buddies. Joey was on his way and landing in Liberia tomorrow evening and Matt owned and ran a treehouse community in the south of Costa Rica called Finca Bellavista. I was supposed to pick up Joey and head down south the following day to meet up. 

That meant I had a whole day to myself. 

Instead of taking in the last rays of sunlight on my first day here, I found myself searching on my phone. 

A deep sin in such a place as this. A place where the natural beauty alone should be enough to unplug for a few hours at a time. 

I had a mission though. With my international phone coverage, I was able to search on the Perfect Paddles App for different outfitters in the area. I wanted to explore and hopefully, maybe, rent a board to get into some waves. 

I was in Costa Rica after all. 

And I knew there were waves to be had.

Seek and You Shall Find

I woke up the next morning before dawn. The air was still cool and the sounds of the surrounding jungle were quiet. 

I had found a few promising places to check out the previous night but needed to narrow it down. I had rented a car when I left the airport so I could go anywhere. On Perfect Paddles there looked to be an excellent outfitter in Uvita called Uvita 360 Water Tours, one in Tamarindo named Costa Rica Stand Up Paddle Adventures, and one other in Jaco called Vista Guapa Surf Camp.

And then I came to Nosara. What seemed like the best option was a place called Nosara Paddle Surf.

On their list of activities, they had SUP Adventures which took participants to different breaks to surf, SUP Surf Coaching, which put you in the hands of an instructor and guided you through the motions of SUP surfing, getting you comfortable and free on a wave, and even accommodations where they included some of the nicest villas and views in the area. 

I had a place to stay. 

And they were all-inclusive. A gentle disappointment. But a great reminder if I was to ever return to this cheerful spot in the world, I would have to stay at Nosara Paddle Surf. 

I kept scrolling and found a place called Nosara Surf Shop. By the name alone it seemed like the best place to grab a board for some surf. 

I clicked onto their site. It looked like they had rentals for $40 per day with a wide-range of SUPs to choose from.

An adventure or a tour would have to wait. I had one day to myself to slash into some waves and get used to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

Nosara Surf Shop

Luckily, the shop was within walking distance. Instead of loading the car, I glided down to the local cafe and ordered some breakfast. As I sat at the table and picked on fresh fruit, I could see surfers lining the beach in the morning sun and staring into the ocean. 

The waves were somewhat small and they seemed disappointed. 

I wasn’t. 

Heavy water was never my friend. I  remembered a few times during hurricane season on the East Coast, being tossed over the falls, my board being launched back into my ribs, and the air escaping my lungs as I struggled to find which way was towards the surface. 

On the East Coast, the heavy days were always cold. 

On the West Coast, with no need for a wetsuit, gloves, booties, or a hood, I would surf in the smallest waves possible and still revel in the warmth of the ocean, the sight of pelicans flying close to the water, and a glimpse of a sea turtle gliding underneath. 

I didn’t need much. 

And today with the surf peaking at about three feet. Not much was all I had. 

After breakfast, I walked the rest of the way to the shop and entered. 

Much like Perfect Paddles and their own website said, they had a full line of boards to choose from.

They had boards from Focus in the 9’ variety, a Hobie that was 9’8’’ a Ron House at 8’4’’ and an 8’ Coreban which caught my eye. 

Given the size of the waves, I considered a nine-foot board or even ten. But I wanted something I could maneuver. Even if the surf wasn’t providing the power. 

I paid $40 for the day and took the 8’ Coreban, a sturdy leash, and fully carbon fiber paddle (thankfully) to the water.

On the Ocean

It was everything I expected. 

I stood atop the Coreban and peered straight into the water, right to the bottom. It was clear and warm. 

And the waves gently glided me along the coast as the mountains jutted out of the skyline of the horizon. 

Each wave felt more satisfying than the last. And with a lower swell, the crowds dispersed to find other activities to occupy their time. It was me, three other surfers, two other paddlers, and a few shops holding lessons down the coast and staying out of the way.

When one of us caught a wave, we hooted and hollered, maybe not as loud as we would on a larger day, but still loud enough to share in the congratulations of a fantastic ride. 

It was a day of camaraderie, not competition. We knew what we were doing was nothing special. The waves were small and harmless. But our smiles knew. We were connecting to the natural world in an ancient space. We were sharing in what deep ancestral lineages had passed down to us from times long ago.

And it was just plain, old fun. The kind you had when you were a kid. Without consequence, or judgment. We were there just to be there. And nothing else. 

After a few hours, I caught a ride onto the shore. It was time to eat lunch. Reload, so to speak. And once I fueled my body, I would head back out there. To that ancient space. And partake in the connection, because it fed my soul. 

And I was thankful I had the necessary tools to get me there.