First time surfing in Costa Rica
The surf nips at your heels as you glide in front of the wave, hands gripped to the sides of the board. Behind you the whitewater froths and foams as you slide your feet forward and stand up. Then all of the sudden you're above the surf, riding the wave. Your hands searching for balance while your hips guide the board toward the beach.
Surfing Costa Rica
Travelers from around the world come to enjoy more than 750 miles of coast along the Pacific and Caribbean shores of Costa Rica. Experienced surfers come for the world famous waves like those both at Hermosa (near Jaco) and Pavones (in Osa) beaches. Many more come to take their first surfing lessons; available on just about any beach with waves.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Brett Schroeder, an ex-pat from Texas who has spent the last ten years living along the shores of Esterillos Oeste, one of Costa Rica's more relaxed local beaches, not far from the booming surf town of Jaco.
Brett, owner of Brett's Board Rentals & Surf Lessons meets students up and down the beaches of the pacific coastline, from Herradura down to Bejuco, teaching the basics and getting people up on the their boards the first day – 3,000 new surfers and counting.
Lesson #1: On the board in the water
Our lesson started on the sands of Esterillos Este beach, part of a forty-mile stretch of burnt almond sand and rolling waves. The beach's shallow decline to the ocean makes an easy place for a surfing lesson; perfect for walking out into the whitewater where the waves are still big but have already broken.
Two fellow beginners and I lay down flat on the sand above the tideline with our imaginary boards underneath us as Brett explained how to pop up on the board. We mirrored his movements, arching our backs with the balls of our feet on the "board". Then we slid up our back foot forward and our front into position and put our arms out to pretend like we were riding the waves.
After getting the basic instructions on the beach it was time to tread water. We moved slowly at first, our boards in the water and our feet shuffling along the bottom doing the "sting ray shuffle" – a precaution to avoid stepping on the little guys that can pack a powerful and poisonous punch.
Out among the waves, Brett taught us what to look for in a good wave, when to turn around and when to paddle. At first, he pushed us forward to help us catch the wave. Each of us in turn, found our groove and stood up without too much trouble; the trick then became staying on the board.
With each successive attempt, our balance improved. Soon we were paddling onto the waves without help, standing up and riding them to shore.