While in Nosara, Costa Rica, I took surf lessons twice a day for the first week of my trip. In that time I went from being a serious beginner, to being able to go out on my own and actually catch and ride waves (little to medium sized ones) before they crashed. The lessons made a huge difference, and they definitely aren’t just for beginners. We saw some very experienced surfers going out with instructors, so clearly, there’s always something to learn.
Now it may be difficult to choose where to take lessons, since there are a number of surf schools in Nosara, but from my experience I would highly recommend Safari Surf.
Safari Surf is located in the Olas Verdes hotel. I have not stayed there, but my aunt stayed there the last time she was in Nosara, and says she quite enjoyed it. However, I will say, if you’re looking for a place that doesn’t have a lot of kids in the pool all the time, Olas Verdes isn’t it. That being said, the accommodations are nice, the food is great (I never experienced bad food in Nosara), and it’s very close to Guiones beach, which is one of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica.
As for what you can expect in terms of surf, it varies depending on the day, and the time of day. At the beginning of my lessons I preferred afternoon surfs because there were more ‘closers’ (when the wave crashes earlier). This is because I was still quite beginner, and during the early stages you are only really surfing the closing waves. However, because the afternoon surf is a bit easier, and people on vacation don’t like to get up early, you will find that there are WAY more people in the water in the afternoon, particularly after 4 pm. The crowds did become a bit of a nuisance because you end up having to be very cautious about which wave you take as not to hit some kid on a boogie board.
In the morning (around 7 am) there are far fewer people in the water, and they are all mostly surfers. However, I did find the waves to be a bit bigger and more powerful. There also seemed to be fewer ‘closers’. However, the opposite can also be true depending on the day. The more experienced surfers were definitely out earlier in the day, and once I got a bit more comfortable catching waves, the morning surf was less scary and a worthwhile challenge.
Like with trying to learn anything new, having the right teacher is crucial. That’s why if you’re taking surfing lessons at Safari Surf, I would also recommend requesting Marlon.
While Marlon is from Nosara, he didn’t start surfing at the age of five like many of the other locals. He started learning when he was about seventeen, and he taught himself. He says he learned all the things you don’t want to do the hard way by falling every which way, and eventually he figured out what worked and what didn’t. During a lesson he can very quickly point out what you’re missing or doing wrong, and he knows just what to say so that the next time you try and catch a wave, you get it right.
With Marlon’s help, I was able to find my balance by the third lesson, and once that happens you’re golden. Keep that in mind, because the first lesson is totally discouraging, the second is a little better, but the third is when that muscle memory kicks in and you really start to get it. At least that’s how it was for me and some of my friends who were also taking lessons.
Once you get past the third lesson then it isn’t a matter of being able to stand up without falling, it’s a matter of improving technique and catching waves before they close. Eventually, I was able to go from a 9 foot board to an 8 foot board, and I really started getting the hang of it. I was a little bruised and scratched up from repeatedly pulling myself up onto the board every day, but I felt strong. And once you start catching some real waves, it’s such a thrill.
So enjoy and pura vida 🙂