Turning 35 in Costa Rica!
After having a remarkably shitty last few months which included painfully losing a handful people I once cared about, getting the stomach flu, then an immediate chest infection (not COVID), I decided to go solo to Playa Samara in Costa Rica for my birthday – ALONE. I’m a solo traveler anyway, so it’s not like this was something out-of-character.
Samara is one of the more mellow surf villages there. Me, still in the beginner/maybe-almost intermediate stages of surfing, Samara isn’t usually known for its insane size of waves like Nosara and Tamarindo. That’s where all the pros go. Costa Rican waves really carry you. At times, they’re soooooo kind to you and really take you for a ride. During a. actual TORNADO (true story), they throw your ass around and spit you right onto the sand, which isn’t really sand, but small pebbles. I came home with lots of epic bruises.
On the actual day of my birthday, I got some really stellar waves. Many good rides. I woke up early and did a sunrise session. Went to back to my villa, slept for an hour, then went back out again – all before coffee. I actually started to feel like a real surfer. Plus, the water is so warm, you don’t need a wetsuit, although, you do need rash guards so I used some old t-shirts. For my “birthday” session, I decided to wear my Wonder Woman bikini. YEAH, BABY! Note: that thing is NOT surf-friendly. Although it fits, a boob here and there popped out, and the bottoms kept shifting from one side to the other. I’m surprised I didn’t lose the whole thing. I flashed a couple locals, but luckily the beach wasn’t really crowded. In fact, many times, I was the only one out there. I had the whole playground to myself. I even took a nap underneath this little grass shack on the beach. Later that day, as I was walking down the beach, trying to find a bar, I instead saw a rainbow over the water. I immediately ran back to my villa, grabbed my board, and went to paddle out in that! Insanely magical. What a way to turn 35.
The villa I stayed at, Villas Kalimba, was a total dream. It was so inexpensive (Pro tip: OFF-SEASON) and the staff were SO incredibly helpful and nice. I had to arrange round-trip transport from the Liberia airport into the beach town which was a two hour drive. They did that for me. I also needed a COVID test a few days before leaving to re-enter the states. They also arranged that! They even upgraded me to a two-bedroom suite. That was cool, but I was alone so it wasn’t even used. It did have a nice table outside on the porch that I used as my “office” while in between surf sessions. It was also a one-second walk to the beach. The easiest way to get there was walking through a small surf board “bone yard” which was a space with all old, beaten up and broken boards. Everywhere you went, you could just walk around in your bathing suit – maybe a coverup if you’re eating at a restaurant. And the coffee…let me tell you about the coffee! Anywhere you went, it was insanely delicious. Probably the best coffee I’ve ever had, even if it was from random little cafe in town.
Naturally, I wandered around and walked around the little town with my camera. I saw really great street art posted on fences and trees. They’re incredibly eco-friendly there. They care about the planet. They care about their town and the beaches.
Other pro tip: if your villa/hotel room uses an actual key, use a string from a disposable face mask to tie it to your bikini or swimsuit. As insanely safe as it is there, I still wanted to be safe since I had my camera, laptop, and drone in my room while I was out in the water.
On my last day there, there was an actual water spout aka a tornado over the water. I didn’t see it at first and wondered why the waves were suddenly so turbulent and why I was getting thrashed so hard and then over to my left and see it in the distance down the beach. I also noticed how everyone else got out of the water except for me. I didn’t want to. Probably because I’m crazy.
Other tips: they know enough English there, but try to attempt Spanish. They do accept major credit and debit cards, but do carry around colóns (their local currency) because not all places do. Bring SPF 100+ sunblock. Even on overcast days, if you’re not using sunblock, you’ll bake like a lobster at a New England clambake. My first day there, I fried myself even though the sun wasn’t out. No bueno.
How I surfed in Costa Rica with my GoPro; I took my own board with the existing attachment. Yes, you read that correctly. I TOOK MY OWN BOARD! Bought a padded bag that I somehow shoved into my small A3 sedan, and took that huge fucker into departures and checked it into the oversized luggage counter. I think it’s like $30, or if you have airline perks, probably free. I worried it hopefully make it there in one piece. I even took off the fins, packed replacement fins and a replacement leash. I was worried that it would make there not broken so I could use it more so than coming back home with something wrong it. Luckily none of that happened. Success! The only thing to expect when you’re waiting for your checked oversize luggage is that it might take a while to wait for it in baggage claims. Once I got back to LAX, it was me and like three other surf dudes, waiting for our boards hahaha. All of us were standing there, fingers crossed that arrived in one piece. All boards eventually came through on the carousel and none broken! Woohoo!
Cannot wait to go back.
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