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A Tale of Surfing for the First Time in CR

Costa Rica Travel News – From time to time we get a letter about someone’s experience in a certain area of Costa Rica while travelling through the country.  It is great hearing from the actual mouth of the person what they went through both the good and the bad.  The most recent one sent to us was in regards to surfing for the first time on the waves of Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast.

costa rica jaco surfingPrior to arriving in Jaco, Costa Rica; surfing was something I had never attempted in my life, except for the surfing done with nothing but my body on family vacations and trips with good friends on the likes of beaches in Florida, Jamaica, Hawaii and throughout California. Mainly in part because of a slight fear of being held underwater without any control whatsoever over my oxygen intake. For whatever reason I thought I would have to go straight to the big leagues and surf waves way beyond my capabilities my first time. I am not exactly sure why I always thought this, but I was ready to put all that behind me and find out for myself. What I found proved to be very satisfying.

My experience began by strolling down through the pure, untamed jungle of Costa Rica in order to get into town and to the beach; which, by the way, was an incredible walk that included sightings of monkeys, spiders, ant superhighways, a variety of lizards, and deadly frogs. Once my friend Michael and I arrived to the surf shop on the beach, Michael was greeted by the owner saying that his services were needed to give a young Tico (local) a surf lesson. This came as a bit of a surprise to me as I was assuming Michael would be dishing me accommodating tips throughout the day to make my experience more enjoyable and less hellish.

This was something I was going to have to get over very quickly because I had come there to do one thing and one thing only. I thought for a minute; if that 7 year old Tico could get out there in the powerful, turbulent ocean and attempt to surf, then what the hell was holding me back? So I decided to go for broke.

Upon crashing into the ocean with the mindset of a professional and a smile on my face, I began to paddle my ass off to get right into the action. I quickly came back to reality and remembered I was no professional when the first “big” wave I faced turned me over with ease. After successfully getting through the next few waves I found myself in position. Wasting no time, I went for the first wave that came my way.

Using the trial and error method, I experienced error after error after error; which really came as no surprise considering I was a first timer who was basically winging it. Eyeing the build of an oncoming wave, I would paddle, paddle, paddle, feel the incline of the wave at my hips, and attempt to stand up and have the surge of water flow right under me and break. I wouldn’t say I was frustrated but I was definitely in need of some guidance.

I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if I could learn a little bit by watching body movements and the motion progression of other’s. I happened to glance over at that time and see the youthful Tico get up and ride good looking wave, seemingly at a level way beyond his years. Michael must have been doing a good job and/or that Tico was a natural. Since I was experiencing the same result time after time, I looked to Michael for a useful tip of some kind. He told me to lean a bit more forward once I started the swift motion of getting to my feet, also to stay low and find my balance after that. This small tip helped immensely.

Each attempt after that was gradually better until I hit a point where I knew I could get up on the next stab at it and ride it out. My opportunity came immediately and as the universe would have it, I capitalized. Following Michael’s advice and the lessons I learned from previous failed attempts, I was able to paddle hard and shoot into a low and stable position to finally ride my first, long awaited wave all the way to the shore. That ride alone was incredibly exhilarating and worth it. I obviously wanted more after that. I paddled and continued fighting and riding more waves for at least another hour until I was completely exhausted and spent.

So much fun was had in that hour and a half I spent surfing. I couldn’t believe I went all my life not partaking in the action out of a little apprehension and fearfulness. Fear is meant to be overcome, not to be submitted to. I was once told to do something every day that scares you and in doing so you will find things out about yourself you never would have known before. On that day I conquered a long time fear, and it was incredibly satisfying. Surfing proved to be everything it’s cracked up to be to say the least.

It was challenging, exciting, adventurous and peaceful in few words; a recipe that will bring me back for many, many years to come.

By Tanner Sanders

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