Travelling Alone to Costa Rica, where should I go???
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Jan 30, 2013 7:09 PM Last Post By: surfersanta
Nov 12, 2012 6:03 PM
Travelling Alone to Costa Rica, where should I go???Hi Everyone!
I am planning to finally do something i have be postponing for years!..learn surfing!, I have some days off from work to finish before the end of year and didnt find anyone to join me on the trip but i still want to go.
I wanted to know what is the best place to go in Costa Rica, here is what am looking to do
1- Learn Surfing
2- Go out a bit at night
3- Meet other people within my age group (I am 30 years old)
I have checked and Jaco seems the easiest to reach from san jose (where my flight will land) but i saw a lot of bad reviews so am thinking to stay away, the other option i found was Shaka beach retreat @ playa hermosa, Mal pais near santa teresa but it looked more of a family surf camp for me and being alone i would like to get to meet people..
could you please give me more suggestions of a nice place to surf, go out and meet young travelers (if you consider 30 young ! :))
I will be staying 7 nights all in all and my budget for surfing lessons and accommodation is around 800$ for the week.
Thanks a lot
Nov 12, 2012 8:04 PM
Nov 13, 2012 4:55 AM
2Samara is nice because it is one of the few Pacific beaches protected by a coral barrier reef. This reef diminishes the waves that other places can get quite large and intimidating with reoccurring rips ( a guy drowned in a rip tide at Jaco just over the weekend!) Thus making Samara perfect for the beginner. Plus it is a nice clean beach and a welcoming small town.
Nov 13, 2012 5:16 AM
3i also recommend samara. http://www.samarabeach.com
as for traveling alone - no worries. it's pretty easy to meet people here, either at your hotel/hostel or with some surfing lessons or at the bar.
Nov 13, 2012 5:40 AM
4Though I have only been the Jaco twice over the years, I am always amazed at the great surf there, huge waves, great to watch the locals surf the big breaks, I cant imagine taking surf lessons there, regardless of the crappy town. Sad news, I would venture to say the drowning is probably the #1 cause of death for tourist to CR, more than car accidents, rip tides and strong currents are all along the Pacific coast. Samara offers the best protection from these, then Tamarindo, though Dec-Mar the off shore winds in the NW Guanacaste can make for some big surf even in Tamarindo. But Tamarindo has a dozen surf schools and surf shops, its sort of the mecca, if you want a more vibrant nightlife and social scene, Tamarindo offers this in spades.
Mal Pais/Montezuma is a little more exposed to the conditions, but a longer beach/surf area of a few miles makes it easier to find more tame surf conditions usually.
Nov 13, 2012 6:27 AM
5the jaco drowning is another example of stupidity, really. a guy was riding his motorcycle, stopped at the beach and in a few minutes, was happily swimming in the ocean. until -- a rip tide took him. other people at the beach shouted at him to tell him what to do, but apparently he didn't hear or couldn't follow their recommendations. one guy finally reached him in the water, but by that time, it was too late. he was taken to shore and given cpr but didn't recover.
PLEASE: for any of you who are planning on going to one of the costa rican beaches:
ask locals about the conditions and before you go in the water, prepare yourself to deal with a rip tide. there are quite a few really good articles about how to survive riptides. the main thing, though is to ASK before you go in the water.
as for the numbers and types of tourist deaths in costa rica, here's the real story:
"...If you check the most recent Deaths of U.S. Citizens Abroad statistics compiled by the US Department of State from October 2002 - June 2009 you will see that various forms of accidents are the number one cause of non-natural death for US citizens in Costa Rica, followed by drownings...."
more....."...During that nearly seven year period October 2002 - June 2009, 172 US citizens died in Costa Rica of non-natural deaths, 48 of them drowned, 65 of them died in car/motorcycle/air and 'other' accidents. "
so with an average of 1.5 million tourists per year visiting costa rica those years, it's an average of 7 drownings per year.
Nov 13, 2012 6:40 AM
6Good to know all that...its always sad to hear about a drowning, as rip tides are dangerous, but you can survive if you know what to do, which is basically dont fight it, stay as close to the surface as possible, and wait until it carries you out and the currents subside, then swim at a angle back towards land. Its also good to wave arms and yell to others, to let them know you are in trouble and alert rescuers. But stay calm. I have been swept down many beaches, some more than a 1/4 mile from where I went in. No fun when its all jagged rocks to get out of the water with crashing waves, that can injure you seriously too. Never swim alone. swim where the locals swim. I dont go in past my knees, when I feel a current against my feet and legs. It can also drop off rapidly, then your really in trouble when a wave hits you, knocks you down, then its carries out 6ft further, and you cant stand.
Nov 13, 2012 6:10 PM
7I wouldn't overlook Jaco' or Tamarindo if you want to learn to surf. Both have large beaches and just because the waves are big at one place on the beach doesn't mean they will be big everywhere. It all depends on the swell direction. Both have a significant advantage over other locations. They have a very high concentration of surf shops and surf schools meaning you will have more options for rentals and lessons and lower costs. Jaco' is the closest to San Jose (you can drive there in an hour). Jaco' has become known as a sex tourism destination, if that bothers you go to Tamarindo. To me Tamarindo seems a bit more expensive for accomodations and meals. If you happened to get a heavy rain while you are at either place I would avoid the ocean. Both are over developed and you'll probably get an ear or sinus infection from polluted runoff in the ocean. If it is dry you should be ok. Samara has a protected beach, doesn't always have rideable swell breaking inside the reef.
Nov 16, 2012 12:08 PM
8Why not visit the Caribbean? I am friend of many local surfers in Puerto Viejo Limon, they said my that it is a really nice place. waves are good, really professional surf instructor and an acceptable night party environment. I am an amateur surfer, I have been twice in Puerto Viejo It is a really nice place, also people is so friendly. this place is not development such as jaco, tamarindo etc, but you can get really nice, comfortable and good quality accommodation.
Thinking in the pacific coast, you should forget Jaco , it is awful. Hermosa is close to jaco but it is so different, I learned to surf there with daily surf lesson with a company called Del Mar Surf Camp (http://www.delmarsurfcamp.com/). I have never surf in Sta Teresa , Nosara, Samara or tamariondo but I have been in these beaches and them are so beautiful, specially sta teresa.
hope you enjoy in Costa Rica.
Bye bye !!
Nov 26, 2012 12:33 AM
Nov 26, 2012 12:46 AM
10Jaco has many flaws, the least being its seedy nightlife, the beach is brown sand and pebbles, and the surf is not geared to a novice, and its also strong currents...
Caribe side offers surfing but not geared to the novice either, Pt Viejo and Salsa Brava is rocks and requires skills..Playa Cocles can be fine, depends on month, seas and swells...and Manzanillo much the same and is a 20 minute walk up the beach from town, and no surf shops there to rent a board.
The pacific side of CR s geared to the beginner and novice, with plenty of surf rentals, surf schools and surf instructors, as well as calmer waves and not so strong currents at most the surf school beaches, like Tamarindo, Samara, Nosora, Montezuma and Mal Pais.
Nov 26, 2012 9:43 AM
I am a 34 y/o female and have been to Costa Rica 3 times by myself. The first time i was there was for my 31 b-day. I have had nothing but positive experiences. My first trip was to Arenal for 3 days and then Tamarindo for 4 days. I went ziplining in Arenal and it was a lot of fun. I went in February and when i first got to Arenal it was freezing. I have to admit i was a little worried, but i guess i was in the rainforest. I went on the meet 2 other people traveling together who i spent the next few days with. Had a blast. Then i was off to Tamarindo, 90 degrees and sunny everyday. It was beautiful. Howler monkeys swinging from the trees, exotic birds flying everywhere. Took my first surf lesson there and it was a success. I woke up and did yoga every morning. Sat by the pool and had a few drinks throughout the day. When i got bored of that, i went to the beach or went into town. I went to dinner at my hotel one night, then other nights i went out to dinner into town with people i met around the hotel. First trip to Costa Rica was wonderful. My next trip was to Nosara.. This was probably my favorite trip. I stayed at the Harmonly Hotel, and met a bunch of people there who were on Surf retreats and/or yoga retreats. It's a small town, but never a dull moment. The town purely focuses on yoga and surfing. It's a small town, but there is so much to do (in my opinion). You can also try paddle boarding. I've never done it there, but that's my plan next time. The last time i went was this past April. I went to Santa Teresa and again, loved it. I took a day trip to Montezuma and hiked the waterfalls and hung out around town.
I would highly recommend any of these places. I don't think you will have a problem with any of the 3 things you are looking to do. Nosara was my favorite, but like i said, it was small. It wasn't bustling with bars or restaurants, but i was able to meet some pretty cool peeps around my hotel. I was in Tamarindo almost 5 years ago and there was a lot more going on, but i have heard it has gotten a lot more commercialized.
Let us know what you decide.
Nov 27, 2012 3:21 PM
Dec 13, 2012 7:18 AM
Dec 13, 2012 12:32 PM
I run the site, www.crsurf.com, which has a lot of options for surf camps and beaches to stay on. If you are going in late December then since it's the dry season there is much less chance for rain. To get to the beach there are a few options for public shuttles like EasyrideCR.com and Gray Line. Also, in late December the waves are most often smaller than average, so beaches like Jaco and Tamarindo (both in semi-protected bays) have great surf to learn on. Jaco also now has lifeguards. Both towns are fairly built up, with lots of nightlife. If you want a natural setting, check out Samara, Nosara, Santa Teresa, or Dominical on the Pacific side. Dominical can have bigger waves out front, but the instructors take you to more protected spots, which I believe are some of the most beautiful in the entire country. (Google - Playa Ventanas)
For traveling solo, you may want to join a surf camp at least for a few days since you can meet friends quickly, and the local instructors can help navigate where is best to go and where to avoid.
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