Sunday, December 28, 2008

Surf Costa Rica

I have wanted to go to Costa Rica (and other places in Central America) for more than 30 years. I want to see the places, but I also want to dive and surf. I made it to Venezuela once, but was with other people and only got to swim once in the Caribbean for a little while. (I had even taken my mask, fins, snorkel and regulator. It was a bitch to carry all that bulky and heavy stuff around for 3.5 weeks and not get to use them once.)

There has always been a small industry for dive tourism at numerous locations throughout the Caribbean, including the Caribbean side of Central America. In recent years ago an even smaller industry for surf tourism has sprung up at a few locations on the Pacific side of Central America (and Mexico).

A few years ago I found out about a then-new destination resort called Witch’s Rock Surf Camp. A neighbor here went there once and really enjoyed it. I made a reservation in 2005 but was unable to get down. Then a few months ago I got an email from WRSC saying they were having a 25% discount for one week only. The discount week happened to be the week immediately after Macworld, and a few weeks after the xmas holidays. It’s a convenient time for me to be away from work, and I could spend a little less money. (Having enough money to go has been my problem for the past 3 decades.) Coincidentally, American Airlines had a 67% discount flight to Liberia, the nearest airport, for exactly that week.

So, finally I get to go to Central America and especially to Costa Rica for a surf trip. It’s only a week, but this is much better than no time at all. And instead of spending about $2,000 (air + hotel), I’ll only be spending about $1,400. (Not including all the various taxes, fees, meals and other costs of course.)

Here is what Joe Walsh, the owner and resident big kahuna at WRSC, says about the surf spots in the area.

TAMARINDO - multiple surf spots in town. The beachbreak in front of WRSC is great for beginners/intermediates, has a sand bottom, best on mid-to-high tide. The rivermouth has lefts and rights and can be good on any tide. There are multiple reefs in Tamarindo, some are rarely surfed. There are many good peaks on the north side of the rivermouth as well, best on mid-to-high tide
WITCH'S ROCK - beachbreak with strong offshore winds making for big barrels, lefts and rights. This spot is always good unless the wind is onshore
OLLIE'S POINT - right pointbreak, sand bottom, can get quite hollow and really fun. Only accessible by boat, breaks on low tide
PLAYA GRANDE - beachbreak that is more exposed to south swells, fun rippable waves, best on mid to high tide
AVELLANAS - multiple breaks that work on low to high tide, sand bottom beachbreak, a rivermouth with some reef, Little Hawaii which is a heavier reef right, plus a couple more spots if you know where to look
MARBELLA - sand bottom break that throws big barrels, definitely the heaviest wave along this stretch of coast. Good tube rides if you know how to ride them, can get bigger than you'd think.

And to add yet one more coincidence, the Costa Rican national surf championship is happening there at WRSC on the first weekend I am in country. Actually, the surf championship happens Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I arrive late afternoon on Saturday. So I may see some of the semi-finals, and next day will definitely get to see the finals. Also, there will be the inevitable big party that Saturday night. (It will probably be really loud near my room, but oh well - I’ll have a few days to recover after it’s over.) From Joe Walsh's weblog:

The Costa Rican surf circuit, known here simply as the CNS, is hosting the Witch's Rock Surf Contest here at Witch's Rock Surf Camp January 10th and 11th, 2009. Inscriptions will be at the camp the night of Friday January 9th. I f#ck%d up and told Sebastian, the owner of Babylon, that we would host the contest party at his club on Saturday night. I did this because I was planning on leaving town on the 10th on surf tour. Then I found out that Red Bull had already purchased the advertising rights to the party directly from the CNS before the season started. I guess I didn't get that memo, probably because Larry forgot to put a cover on the TPS Report. So, as to eliminate confusion, here are the facts:
- Friday January 9th, 5pm-7pm - Surf contest inscriptions @ WRSC
- Saturday and Sunday January 10th and 11th - surf contest, Playa Tamarindo
- Saturday night - 911 La Radio, Red Bull and Witch's Rock Surf Camp present the Torneo Witch's Rock Party at Witch's Rock Surf Camp.

With a week on a good surf beach in a tropical beach town with a national contest and me with no computers to distract me, I’ll probably have a lot of pictures to upload to Flickr when I return. Departure countdown: 12 days from today 28 December.

(And right now I am coming down with a cold or flu, that I picked up from work.)

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