5: Costa Rica Surf Trip Review

This episode is for anyone interested in taking a surf trip to Costa Rica, or returning to explore a new area of Costa Rica. We cover the ENTIRE country: the Southern zone, the Central Pacific, the Nicoya Peninsula, Guanacaste, and the Caribbean.

Some of the questions we answer:
What kind of waves will you find in each part of the country?
– When is the best time of year to surf in Costa Rica?
– Are the locals friendly?
– What surfboard to bring?
– Where to fly into and how to get around?
– What else is there to do besides surf?
– What should you pack?
And more…

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Email questions or comments to getoutandsurfCR@gmail.com
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See you surfing, pura vida!
Joe Walsh

Music
Artist: Beck
Song: Dreams

Audio transcription:

Joe Walsh:
Hey, hey, this is Joe Walsh coming to you from Tamarindo, Costa Rica, and you’re listening to the Get Out and Surf podcast. In this episode we talk all about going surfing in Costa Rica, and everything you need to know, we talked about it all; how to get here, how to get around, where to find the best waves. Whether you’re going to the northern zone, the southern zone, the Central Pacific or the Caribbean side, you wanna listen to this podcast. So sit back, relax and let’s get started.
Hey, what’s up? This is Joe Walsh coming to from Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the Get Out and Surf podcast. I’m sitting here with Niki Hurren.
Niki Hurren:
Good afternoon. How are we?
Joe Walsh:
I don’t know.
Niki Hurren:
Well, there’s more than one of us in the room.
Joe Walsh:
I’m doing pretty good. Pat looks angry.
Pat McNulty:
I always look angry.
Niki Hurren:
He’s always prepared.
Joe Walsh:
Right. Exactly. He’s not facing the door though.
Pat McNulty:
I am facing the door.
Joe Walsh:
You’re facing the bathroom. T
Pat McNulty:
No, that’s a door right there. That’s a bathroom, that’s a door.
Joe Walsh:
That’s the exit.
Pat McNulty:
There’s a door here. I’ve got it in a peripheral vision. Somebody comes in, I hit them with the mic, go for the throat of the other guy.
Joe Walsh:
If it’s a large group, what do you do though?
Pat McNulty:
You pick one guy out of the crowd and you devastate him.
Niki Hurren:
Then the rest-
Pat McNulty:
You take his eyeball right out of his head right in front of everybody and they all run away. You may not live, but you’re going down.
Niki Hurren:
I know what door I’m going for, I’m going straight for that door there. Whoever’s in there, I’m going-
Joe Walsh:
We got the escape window in the bathroom.
Niki Hurren:
You’re not gonna get through the window dude, you’re just not as tiny.
Joe Walsh:
All right. Well, I’m really stoked because this week’s episode is information that anyone who’s ever been interested or is interested in coming to Costa Rica on a surf trip or maybe coming back to Costa Rica on a surf trip and seeing a new part of the country, you don’t wanna miss out. This is a Costa Rica surf trip review. We’ve lived here collectively for 40 years between the three of us and we’ve been surfing that whole time, so I think we’ve got some pretty valid information to share. This isn’t just the Tamarindo or Guanacaste area where we live and have, which is Rock Surf Camp, it’s the entire country. So let’s dig right in.
I think the first thing is to break down Costa Rica into five surf zones. We may be in the northwest coast of Guanacaste in the country, but there are five zones, which I’d call the, starting on Pacific side on the south, the southern zone, then the Central Pacific. Then heading further north, we’ve got the Nicoya Peninsula and up at the very northwest corner, the top edge of the Nicoya peninsula, and really Guanacaste, which is the province, and that kind of goes down towards the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, but not to the end. So we’ve broken that into two. Then the fifth zone would be the Caribbean side. Costa Rica does have two oceans, two bodies of water, and what’s really lucky is that sometimes the Pacific will be flat, the Caribbean will be booming or vice versa. So definitely something to take into consideration when you’re coming here on your trip.
So let’s start with the southern zone. That’s one of my personal favorites actually, besides Guanacaste. I know we go there a lot. I usually don’t mention the spots that we visit, I’m trying to keep those under wraps a little bit, but needless to say, the southern zone is where you’ve got Costa Rica’s best point breaks. Really the longest, best point breaks would be found in Costa Rica. The downside is, is those waves break usually more on south swells than northwest swells, so the swell window is usually more of that May to October timeframe.
Pat McNulty:
That is where most of the biodiversity is in Costa Rica also. You’re gonna see a cross section of many different types of animals. You’re gonna see the big cats, you’re going to see the scarlet macaws flying around like pigeons in a city. There’s so many of them. It’s a wonderful sight to see. So the southern zone is jungle, it’s more tropical and that’s a good place to go.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah, I agree. I love it down there. It takes about eight hours to drive to the Pacific coast north to south or vice versa, so to give you an idea. It isn’t really so far though, it’s only maybe 250 miles, but the road network in Costa Rica is pretty poor. You can fly on charter flights to get from one side of the country to the other. But yeah, basically the rule of thumb in Costa Rica is, the further south you go in the country, the more rain you’re gonna get, the denser the vegetation, the more of a rain forest environment. Whereas if you go the further north in Costa Rica, it does get dryer. It’s actually the largest dry rain forest in the world from what I understand.
Pat McNulty:
Yeah, we’re in our own little bubble up here in the north. We get dry weather, hot weather, when in San Jose has got fog and rain, and that’s because they’re a mountain climate. But you have all these little microclimates all over the country, which is pretty cool. You can be in Guanacaste in a hot 90 degree weather, two hours away, three hours away, you’re up in the mountains of Arenal and you’re wearing a sweater.
Joe Walsh:
Very true.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah. I think all these zones that we speak about have different types of waves and definitely different types of climate. I remember my first time I went down to the southern zone, it’s what I fought Costa Rica was gonna be like all over; literally is the beach and then there’s the jungle right there. There’s not too much development down there, which makes it nice because it’s a nice area to be. It’s a little bit more underdeveloped than sort of the central and the northern zone, but still, it’s a spectacular sight.
Joe Walsh:
Hands down the southern zone of Costa Rica, some of the least developed part of the country, also the hardest to get to. So you really have to be committed. It’s hard to do a one week trip going down to the southern zone simply because you fly to San Jose and you got to drive six to eight hours just to get down there. So moving up … Well, there’s more than point breaks in the southern zone too, but that’s really what it’s known for. There’s quite a few uncrowded spots, as well as crowded ones, but it’s a great spot to visit and surf regardless.
Moving north along the Pacific coast, the next surf zone is the central coast, and I’d like to call that from somewhere around Donimical up to basically Jaco, maybe even Boca Barranca. But basically, if you look at Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline, it’s almost entirely beach break from the Osa Peninsula all the way up to the Gulf of Nicoya. Sure, there are some reefs, some rocks and other spots, but typically it’s very large stretches of beach break, which can mean uncrowded peaks or peaks with nobody on them. There’s also some really large river mouths. There is the Isla Damas, which is near Parrita, and apparently that has some amazing waves. I’ve never actually surfed out there because it’s next to one of the biggest rivers and some of the biggest crocodiles you’ve ever seen, needless to say, it’s very uncrowded.
Pat McNulty:
There’s a reason for that.
Joe Walsh:
I know, because of all the wildlife. I’ve taken a boat, gone down the entire Pacific coast of the country and I stopped the boat, jumped in, paddled and surfed some great waves with absolutely nobody, could not see a single person as far as I looked to the north or the south. So you can be rewarded with uncrowded surf, mainly beach breaks. So that means that there’s a lot of swell that might be closed out, but if there’s not much swell, beach breaks tend to pick up a lot of swell here. A go-to spot in the central coast would probably be Playa Hermosa, which is right south of Jaco, one of the first most popular surf zones for Costa Rica. Really consistent beach break, lots of barrels and some really good surfing going on there. So if you’re in that zone, you definitely wanna check out Playa Hermosa, I would recommend.
Pat McNulty:
Yeah. That can be a really heavy wave too. So I would say that’s an intermediate to advanced wave there. So if you’re intermediate, you should be on the top end of intermediate if you’re gonna go on the water there, because there’s a lot of current, heavy wave, it can hold you down for a little bit and if you’re not ready for it, it could scare you.
Joe Walsh:
That’s true.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah. I know that Costa Rica is not really known for its big waves or heavy swell, but there obviously are these beaches like Hermosa that can really accentuate the power of the swell. So best thing is, any beach you get to anywhere, sit down, watch it, see what’s going on. Talk to the locals as well because they’re gonna have the best sort of idea of what kind of the conditions are gonna be on that day. I know we all want to push ourselves, but also, we don’t wanna put ourselves in danger or anyone else in danger. So there are big waves in Costa Rica and it does get heavy.
Joe Walsh:
Moving north from the central coast, the Nicoya Peninsula, which is northwest part of Costa Rica, very large peninsula, and the southwest corner of the peninsula is really well exposed to swell. So we’re talking Malpais, Santa Teresa, as well as further north along the Pacific and even facing south around the tip of Nicoya Peninsula, there’s some waves to be found down there. Downside, it is a little bit harder to get there. If you’re coming from the San Jose area, you got to take a ferry across, and if you’re coming from the north, you still have to drive down the peninsula and go into the gulf side to drive all the way around through Playa Naranjo and Paquera through Cobano to get out there. So at least four hours, maybe even longer to get out to that point from the closest airport. That’s if you’re lucky with the ferry schedule, it could be five or six hours even.
Some really good waves though, really well exposed. It could be maybe only waist to stomach high at some of the central coast beach breaks or even up here in Guanacaste, you could go there to the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, it could be head high plus. It sucks in that much swell.
Pat McNulty:
We got the Superbowl coming up here, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that it’s such a nice place in Nicoya Peninsula that Tom Brady has a house down there. I’m not gonna tell you where it is, but he’s down there. He surfs, his wife surfs, his kids surf.
Joe Walsh:
I really don’t wanna talk about the Superbowl and the Patriots at all Pat.
Pat McNulty:
Well, somebody has to win.
Joe Walsh:
That’s right, that’s why we got the Rams.
Pat McNulty:
Okay. We know what side you’re on.
Joe Walsh:
I’m on the side of the Chargers Pat, and-
Pat McNulty:
Anyone that beat the Chargers, right?
Joe Walsh:
Anyone who beat the Chargers, I hate.
Pat McNulty:
I understand.
Niki Hurren:
Well, if we see Tom Brady in the lineup, I’m pretty sure we’re gonna be fair to him and say a good hello, and it depends on what the outcome is on Sunday I guess.
Joe Walsh:
Screw that, I’m gonna burn him.
Pat McNulty:
What else is new?
Joe Walsh:
See, I can edit that out Pat, that part’s gone. My joke, it stays. Let’s go over to the Caribbean side. That’s probably the zone that everyone forgets. I mean, I don’t wanna say forgets, because I don’t forget it, but it’s so completely different from everything you see here on the Pacific coast. The Caribbean is warmer, it’s very tropical. It’s got mostly reef breaks, does have beach breaks as well, beaches like Westfalia, for the south, Playa Cocles. It can get big in the Caribbean too. So people think, “Oh, the Caribbean, it’s gonna be knee high slop. Think again. The biggest barrels in this country are breaking on the Caribbean side, talking ledging, draining, serious surf where you need a helmet and you need to grab your balls and go for it.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah. The first time I turned up, got off the bus, there was literally two guys with neck braces on waiting for the bus to get out of there.
Joe Walsh:
I’m not surprised.
Niki Hurren:
I was like, “What happened?” They just went, “Cocles.” Just Cocles Beach, the beach breaks there are real heavy, real heavy. There’s a lot of water coming in, it’s a shorter period swell that you go over there, but that does come in from deep water and it just literally slams right onto the sand. So you’ve got to be careful. Again, it’s like there are some very heavy waves here in Costa Rica, and obviously Salsa Brava is over as well, which is a fantastic wave.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah. I mean, I would say that the Caribbean side, the Caribbean is more suited to the advanced surfer wanting to surf those heavier reef breaks, spots like Salsa Brava or that left that breaks off of Isla Uvita. Very serious left, very big, very hollow and for serious chargers only. Nonetheless though, there’s some great waves over there. Going to our fifth zone right here at home in Guanacaste. That’s the furthest northwest in the country, and Guanacaste is pretty unique. I wanna make this podcast as objective as possible, and it really is because I love traveling this entire country, there’s a lot of great surf here in Costa Rica, but I chose to live in Guanacaste, we all did, and for great reason.
Guanacaste has some very unique characteristics. Number one, the coastline is not straight, it is completely the opposite of straight. We’ve got beaches facing every direction, pretty much 180 degrees swell window from beaches facing due north to due south, everything in the middle. So we get really well exposure to waves any direction. The other thing which is very unique is we have a lot of offshore winds. Lake Nicaragua, which is just north of the coast Rica border, produces some amazing, intense offshore winds that literally, I don’t even know how to explain it, almost too strong sometimes I’d say.
Pat McNulty:
They howl.
Joe Walsh:
They can howl. You can be surfing in some 40 knot, 50 knot plus winds up at Witch’s Rock. So the offshore winds can be a little bit of a challenge if you’re not used to surfing those conditions, but what you quickly realize is it allows you to surf all day long. It makes the waves even hollower, makes them more open, and we get some pretty consistent offshore winds from December through March or end of April, and then again over the summer months for June and July, anywhere from two to four weeks there, pretty straight, our Indian summer. Then occasionally throughout the year as well. The other really good thing about Guanacaste is that there’s waves for all levels. Seriously, we’ve got some great beginner spots, great spots for that intermediate and advanced surfer and some seriously heavier waves for that advanced charger. So you’ve got something for everyone. Pretty good conditions with the winds and definitely any swell, especially in northwest swell, which happens in these winter months, those big waves that hit, like that back door shootout that was at pipeline or anything that happens at jaws.
Those big swells make their way here to Costa Rica, and they don’t show up in the surf forecast usually, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get here and the waves aren’t firing because they are. There’s a few spots that face towards the northwest here in Guanacaste that are the best spots to pick up a northwest swell in the whole country.
Niki Hurren:
My first trip down here, I only mainly stayed in sort of the Jaco and then sort of Malpais area. Then on my next trip, I came up to Tamarindo and the northwest, and it was for that reason, you had these offshore winds all day, and you combine that with good swell was coming from the south, coming from the north, it didn’t really matter. There was always somewhere to go and surf. A little bit of traveling, but not too much really. I mean, the roads are pretty good up here. Some of the spots, obviously I had a truck, but on the whole, you can get around and get to a wave within 30 minutes of anywhere. The consistency of swell is great up here.
Joe Walsh:
So you talk about traveling Niki, and I think that’s a question that’s on everyone’s mind right now that’s never been to Costa Rica or considering surfing one of these other areas where they’ve never been. There are two international airports, there is San Jose, airport code SJO, and then there is Liberia Costa Rica, which is airport code LIR. So if you wanted to go to Guanacaste, or if you wanted to surf the Nicoya Peninsula further south, you would wanna fly into Liberia. If you wanted to serve the central coast, you can fly into San Jose and you can be in Jaco, Playa Hermosa in a little over an hour, maybe an hour and a half. So pretty quick. You’d wanna fly into San Jose to go to the Caribbean. You wanna fly into San Jose to get to the southern zone, to the Caribbean. To Puerto Viejo from San Jose, you’re looking at at least three hours, maybe three and a half hours, and to get down to the southern zone, spots like Pavones, give yourself at least six, maybe even seven hours drive to get there. Either way, you wanna fly into San Jose.
So then the next question is, what’s the best time to come down? It does vary on which zone you go to. For example, if you wanna go to the southern zone, I would recommend going down in the May through October months, which is the south swell season for Costa Rica, and probably the most consistent time of year for the southern zone. The Central Pacific I think is pretty open, pretty much surf there, get waves throughout the year. The Caribbean’s also quite sporadic. For example, it was just pumping over there, and December, January, February can be a really good time for waves in the Caribbean, but so can the summer months. I’ve been there over the 4th of July, had some of the best barrels of my life over that time. So it doesn’t really have … It’s a little more hit or miss I guess you could say for the Caribbean.
The Nicoya Peninsula, and especially up here in Guanacaste, it really depends for waves, because we get those northwest swells in the winter months, and then we also get those south swells in the summer months. So we get waves pretty much year round. The only time of the year when I would recommend, maybe if you’re not gonna stay away, just be prepared to get wet would be the September and October months when we get a ton of rain. The waves are still good though. I mean, it can get some tropical winds, it can get blown out at certain spots. Other spots could be breaking that don’t break the rest of the year. But if there’s a lot of rain, the river mouths can be really muddy. If there’s all that rain and wind, it can be a little bit difficult to enjoy your vacation, but if you’re really into surf, you’re gonna get wet anyways. It can still be a great time to come down.
Pat McNulty:
We’ve had some really good rainy seasons, and when I say really good rainy seasons, I mean, it wasn’t that bad. You’d have a little rain at night, you’d have a little rain in the morning, and then it would clear up for most of the day and with not a lot of wind. So you can have a really good time during those months if you just have an open mind, you don’t mind a little bit of rain here and there. Actually, we love it when it rains because we get so much sun here, we’re always running for the shade, so a little rain here and there at least.
Joe Walsh:
It’s actually blazing hot right now, so that’s true. I wanna clear up the misconception though, there is a rainy season for the country, which typically spans from April through the end of October and in November. So those April, May, June, July and August months, especially, or in particularly here in the northwest part of the country, they’re still great months for surf. They’re beautiful months for being on vacation. It may not rain, it may rain a couple hours a day, it may rain for 30 minutes in the afternoon, it may not rain at all. But when you get into September and October, it can pour, it really can, and it can kill the vibe if you’re with your significant other or you brought your family and you’re trying to get everyone out to go on a canopy tour and it’s just two days of just nonstop rain. It can really put a downer on the trip.
But the waves could be empty, surf could be firing with no one out. You just have to be aware of that. I think that’s probably the two months out of the year I would tell someone to really consider how much they love surfing.
Niki Hurren:
Generally through the rainy season though, you get up early, you get those glassy mornings with not too much wind before the wind picks up and comes on shore, and then I find usually by the afternoon you get those thunder heads come up and the wind will actually switch off shore. So we’re always, especially in the rainy season, watching what the local weather is gonna do, because it’s obviously gonna affect the local wind conditions. So we can have plenty of swirl, it can be on shore, and we get the storm comes through, that’s when the rainy season is really nice, because again, not too many people down here, so the surf is a little less crowded than it is around sort of like Christmas and New Years, that type of thing. We have a high high season through December and January and February, so the waves can be pretty packed. But the rainy season is a good option to come down if you’re looking for a little bit emptier surf.
Joe Walsh:
I totally agree. Then as far as getting the best surf, the most consistent times of year to come down, Costa Rica does face more to the south than the north, this is on the Pacific coast. So we are more exposed to south swells here than we are to northwest swells. That means that the May through October months when it is winter in the southern hemisphere, we get the most consistent and the biggest waves here on the Pacific coast of Coast Rica. So if you’re looking for a super consistent surf, those May through October months are gonna be your best bet.
Pat McNulty:
But we get waves year round. The bottom line is that, we say these are better months for getting big surf, but there’s always surf in Costa Rica, you can always find a place that has surf. It could be small where we are here in Tamarindo, and a little further down the coast that has more of a south, southwest-facing beach. It’s gonna be two foot, maybe three foot bigger than it is in-
Joe Walsh:
Tamarindo.
Pat McNulty:
Than it’s gonna be in Tamarindo. So there’s always surf someplace in Costa Rica. So it doesn’t matter what time of year you come, you want warm water, you want waves, we have them.
Joe Walsh:
Definitely. I would say that these summer months, the May through October months, may have a little bit bigger, more consistent surf, but the winter months would have the better weather, no rain, definitely the offshore winds here in the northwest coast. So depending on the time of year, there’s always something that’s gonna be pretty good about the conditions, and I honestly can say that I believe that about 80% of the time you can find a head high or bigger wave here in Costa Rica.
Pat McNulty:
Yeah, that’s true. I love a six foot wave. A six foot wave, you can do an awful lot on that wave. You can ride it down the line, you can do off the lips, you can get in the tube if it’s a tubular wave. So that’s not a bad wave.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah. So Costa Rica is not known for having huge waves, we are known for having consistent surf pretty much throughout the year. So what kind of surf board should I bring to Costa Rica? That’s a good question.
Pat McNulty:
Well, that’s easy for me because I always surf on a long board now. However, something that’s a mid range board I think is probably the best bet for somebody, because you have the potential, if you’re surfing some beach break that’s a little bit hollow, so you might want something a little quicker. Then you might go to a point break where it’s a little bit bigger there. So a medium sized short board I think is probably the key. Something with a little bit more performance.
Niki Hurren:
I would bring something with volume. So you’ve got a lot of these smaller boards, they’re called a groveler, so it can be anywhere from six foot down to five, six range, but it has a lot of volume in it. Because the swell patterns can come and go, so if you’ve got [inaudible 00:23:17] and it’s a little bit bigger and you’ve got that little bit more volume that you can get into the wave earlier, that’s great. Also, if you’ve got those smaller days where you need that little extra to help you get in as well, I think something like that is perfect. I mean, traveling around with boards isn’t that difficult. A lot of buses and sort of car rentals will have racks and stuff like that. But I mean, if you can afford it and bring all those boards down here, you can bring two or three. But obviously if you’re on a bit more of a budget or you don’t have that many boards, something like Pat said, in the mid range is really gonna help, something-
Joe Walsh:
It probably depends on what kind of surfer you are too, because if you only ride long boards, then that’s an easy question to answer, and if you only ride tiny little biscuit short boards, then you’re gonna probably say a little biscuit board. But I hear what you’re saying, and your strategy is the one I follow, a shorter board, but with volume that can still perform in a smaller wave and a bigger wave, but definitely not a huge wave.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah, so you’re not under gun most times, there’s nothing worse than you turn up to a beach break that doesn’t have a lot of power in it and you’re on this tiny little short board and you’re just literally groveling, you’re literally trying to get into these waves all the time. It just gets frustrating. So I would say, it’s not real high, high period swells, but you definitely get between, so 14 to 18 period swell, which for me, coming from the east coast of England, is magical. But most of the time, I would say that’s short board but that has a lot more volume in it than you would maybe normally ride it at your home break.
Joe Walsh:
Okay. Yeah I would’ve almost said, “Bring the board you’re most comfortable riding,” but if your home break is a super fast beach break, then not all the beef breaks here are super fast, and maybe your board is gonna be a little bit too thin or not have enough volume. The waves here do vary. We’ve got some slopy beach breaks, we’ve got some pitching beach breaks, we’ve got some shallow reef breaks, we’ve got some point breaks, we’ve got a little bit of everything. So it’s kind of a hard question to answer. The good news is, there are a lot of surfboard rental options here in the country, especially in those surfing hot zones, spots like Jaco or Tamarindo, destinations where a lot of surfers go to, there are a lot of shops. There is an infrastructure for higher end rental boards, all kinds of rental boards.
Niki Hurren:
Well, you can get anything like like Firewire’s, Al Merrick’s, PU or even Epoxy, whatever you use to run, you’re gonna get a lot of choice down here. So there’s a lot of shops in those sort of more touristic zones like Jaco, Nosara and Tamarindo. You’re gonna be able to find what you maybe generally ride at home or something very close.
Pat McNulty:
It’s certainly not like it was when we first started coming down here, where you had to bring everything that you wanted, including extra leashes, extra fins, all your own wax, all of those kinds of things you had to do before. But now you can find all of those things, so it’s a lot more user friendly than it used to be.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah. I would say the one exception is neoprene. What I mean by that is, a spring suit or a wetsuit top. People think when they go to Costa Rica, “Oh, it’s the tropics. It’s close to the equator, I don’t need a wetsuit,” but you could be wrong. We get some howling offshore winds, like we said, that makes the water temp drop here in the northwest coast and there’ve been times I’ve surfed with just rocking a full suit. I’ll admit it. It was freezing.
Pat McNulty:
Yeah, it still doesn’t get that cold compared to a lot of other places that you’re used to surfing on the east coast or even in California, it’ll get down to maybe as low as 68 degrees, but when the sun is 90 degrees and the water is 68 degrees and the wind is blowing hard offshore, you need a little heat, you need a little protection. If you’re on a boat going to a surf break, you’re going to get wet, so it’s really comfortable when you have a nice thin, little wetsuit.
Joe Walsh:
I would almost argue 68 is still a little warm. I feel like I’ve been out there when it’s been the low 60s.
Pat McNulty:
I don’t agree with you. I think that’s in our mind because we’re so used to the warm weather and the warm water, it just feels really cold, but it’s not that much colder.
Niki Hurren:
You guys are still talking in old money as well, 68 degrees.
Joe Walsh:
Agree to disagree.
Pat McNulty:
Well listen-
Joe Walsh:
Tom Brady,
Pat McNulty:
… the English started this whole thing with imperial measurements and now you guys are switched to the other measurements.
Niki Hurren:
We do both, the only thing is Fahrenheit does not exist in England. But anyway, getting back to the [inaudible 00:27:35], whenever I go up north towards Witch’s Rock, Ollie’s Point, I always pack a full suit, every time. Three, two, if I can get something a little thinner. Simple fact, you’re going up there and you’re surfing all day, you’re on a boat. The water can get pretty cold. The wind is howling, it’s gonna evaporate that water off your body, off your core very, very quickly, and if the swells is a little inconsistent, it’s coming in, you’re sitting around a lot, you get cold. I’ve been on the boat before and some guy is like, “What are you doing? You’re putting a wet suit on?” I’m like-
Joe Walsh:
Yeah, is does seem kind of ridiculous.
Niki Hurren:
It does. But then the inner wet suit, you’re not gonna get cold, you’re not gonna get sunburned. You don’t have to reapply any sunscreen and it’s with the upwelling. We also get jellyfish and stuff like that comes up in the water.
Pat McNulty:
Every now and then, yeah.
Niki Hurren:
Every now and again. You take all these problems, and if I’m paying money to go up and spend the day surfing, I don’t want anything to stop me from surfing, so I don’t have no problem with putting a wetsuit on.
Pat McNulty:
It doesn’t hurt to put some skin in your board bag when you’re coming down, you’ll thank yourself.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah, I don’t think you need to bring a full suit when you come to Costa Rica, and I don’t even necessarily think you need to bring anything if you’re gonna be surfing the central coast, the southern zone or the Caribbean. But the further north you go in the country, we get these wonderful winds, which make the waves great, but it can make the water a little bit colder. So definitely I always … I mean, I’ve got a sleeveless and a long sleeve wet suit jacket that I wear pretty frequently. I’ve got a spring suit. I usually take a spring suit when I go to Witch’s and Ollie’s on the boat all day. It’s been very rare I’ve ever worn a full suit, but needless to say, you’re not gonna find those products with regularity here in the country. So it’ll probably be the biggest thing that surprising. Throw a wet suit jacket or even a spring suit in your bag, because you never know. Here’s another question that we get a lot, are the locals friendly? Are locals friendly Pat?
Pat McNulty:
Yeah, I would say that this is one of the most friendly countries that you can go to. It’s based on tourism and you’re gonna find some lovely people here. From the moment that you get off the airplane, it’s a very welcoming place, and 99.9% of the people are happy that you’re here, they wanna know you, they wanna know what you’re all about and you wanna know them. So it is a friendly place.
Joe Walsh:
What about in the lineup when you’re paddling to the main peak, and maybe you’re getting one too many waves.
Pat McNulty:
Well, you’ve got to respect where you are, it’s not your home. So if you’re gonna be greedy out there, you’re gonna run into some problems with some locals, and even some expats. So don’t do what you wouldn’t do at your own house. So share your waves, be respectful of the locals, and you’re gonna get along fine. You’re gonna get plenty of waves. Don’t surf like there’s no tomorrow because you’re gonna make somebody mad.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah, and you’re bad representation of wherever you’re from.
Pat McNulty:
A good point, Joe.
Joe Walsh:
Also that applies if you are just a learning surfer, don’t paddle out to the main peak at a well-known spot if you can’t hold your own. If you don’t know the rules of surfing etiquette, if you can’t follow through with the basic steps of surfing and know the rules, you’re gonna get in someone’s way, you’re gonna piss someone off and someone’s gonna tell you to get out. So that’s gonna happen anywhere in the world. Costa Rica isn’t unique at all when it comes to surfing, you’ve got to know the rules, you got to play by them. You got to be respectful or you’re gonna have trouble. So Costa Rica really isn’t any different, but overall, people are super chill here. I mean, the national phrase is [Spanish 00:31:10], which translates to pure life. I think every Costa Rican knows in their heart just how beautiful and amazing this country is, and people here generally are just super chill.
I think it’s why I like it so much, it’s just very mellow vibe, people are really nice, and if you bring that mellow vibe with you, you’re gonna do great. But if you bring that aggressive, paddling and aggressive surf attitude that maybe you have to do at your home break in order to get waves, if you bring that down here with you, you are gonna have trouble.
Niki Hurren:
Basically, whatever you give out, you get back is the way I look at it when you’re paddling out a spot. A few spots around the world are obviously gonna look a little more localized, a little heavier because of the conditions of the waves or because of the celebrity status of the wave, if you know what I mean. But down here, generally as a whole, if you paddle out and you’re pretty humble, you got a smile on your face, remember why you’re here is to catch some great waves and have an experience and meet some new people. The reason I chose this whole country really over waves, over consistency of aves, it’s the fact I really liked paddling out, because I’ve been to other places where I just felt very intimidated. The level of surfing was extremely high, the aggressiveness was really high and here it’s a lot more relaxed.
Pat McNulty:
So I think everyone’s having a pretty nice time in the water.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah. I mean, even if you got to a few more spots where you’ve got a main peak, you just … there’s plenty of peaks all up and down the beach, there’s other spots. Like Pat says, you are gonna get a wave. You get that … that still has that mentality of the herd mentality, where everyone cries on one spot or they all go for the same wave. That first wave that comes through on the set, if you let that go by and think there’s one behind it or there’s another one behind it, generally I find that the lineups will sort themselves out and you’ll find your spot in there, and everyone is just super happy and super nice. The people, in general, as a whole, are so friendly, it’s unreal. It really is.
There’s some general questions about Costa Rica I think we could answer here in this podcast that people ask a lot. Do you need to take any vaccinations?
Pat McNulty:
No.
Joe Walsh:
The answer is no.
Niki Hurren:
No.
Joe Walsh:
The only thing is if you’re coming from a country that’s been flagged for having yellow fever, if you are. For example, I’ve been to Peru a bunch, and every time when I fly back, I have to show that I’ve got my yellow fever vaccination, otherwise, they won’t let me back into the country. So if you’re coming from a country that has a history of yellow fever, you’re gonna need your yellow fever inoculation. Besides that, you don’t need malaria pills, and yeah, you’re good to go. You can drink the drinking water here, which is definitely something is not recommended in a lot of Central American countries, but here, it seems to be pretty good.
Niki Hurren:
I would still err on caution, just because I think a lot of people get sick of … The water here, I’ll drink the water here and won’t have a problem, but your stomach gets used to it. If you’re down here for a couple of weeks, I would still say the drinking water is safe, but-
Pat McNulty:
When you go into a restaurant Niki and you order water and they give you a glass of water, do you drink it?
Niki Hurren:
No.
Pat McNulty:
Do you drink the ice or eat the ice in your cocktails?
Niki Hurren:
I don’t drink cocktails, I drink beer.
Pat McNulty:
You don’t drink ice? Okay. Well, okay, so you could still-
Niki Hurren:
You know what? I hate plastic bottles, that’s it.
Pat McNulty:
It doesn’t hurt to order your water in a plastic bottle, but the other drinking water is safe here, so you don’t need to be worried about that. There’s other things in life to worry about besides that in Costa Rica.
Joe Walsh:
You can bring your plastic refillable water bottle and any restaurant will be happy to fill it up for you. Do you need to speak Spanish here? The short answer is no, but if you go anywhere without speaking any of the language, then you’re not doing enough. Anytime I travel to a foreign country, I try to learn at least 10, 15 words, things like hello, excuse me, thank you, bathroom-
Niki Hurren:
Sorry.
Joe Walsh:
Sorry.
Niki Hurren:
Sorry is a really important one.
Joe Walsh:
Totally. Hotel, taxi, things like that. People speak English throughout the country, more in the northwest corner, more the central coast, definitely on the Caribbean where they speak English, Spanish, Patwa. The southern zone will probably be the only part of the country where you’re gonna have to speak a little more Spanish because it has the least tourism infrastructure. So you’re gonna probably be in more situations in the southern zone where speaking a little bit of Spanish is definitely gonna be helpful.
Niki Hurren:
You’re gonna come across a lot better with the locals too, they really like to be able to converse with people and they love to share their language and share their culture as well. It’s challenging. It’s good fun.
Joe Walsh:
Totally. Let’s talk about transportation. How do you get around? I mean, you fly here, you get into either Liberia or San Jose, then what? I mean, if you’re a backpacker, you’re pretty much taking the bus or you’re out on the side of the road hitchhiking. I see that pretty commonly.
Pat McNulty:
Well, the public transportation in Costa Rica can be a little bit confusing, but there’s a lot of it. There’s a lot of buses going to the places that you need to go on a regular basis. So the backpackers, you’re gonna do all right, you’re gonna be able to grab a bus and you’re gonna be able to get where you’re going, maybe it’s gonna be a little bit slower because they stop every single stop-
Joe Walsh:
Definitely slower.
Pat McNulty:
… 99.9% of the time. However, backpackers, that’s why they come here. They wanna chill, they wanna see the country. So it’s not a bad way to go. Then there’s plenty of taxis, plenty of taxis to take you where you need to go if you need to do that, and then most of these hotels will help you arrange transportation or have transportation on their own that picks you up at the airport and then drops you back off there.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah. If you’re gonna stay in the San Jose area, you can get Uber. There’s Uber and Lyft I think in the city. I don’t think we have that out here in the coast yet. But if you’re gonna stay in the same area, the same town, maybe you don’t even need a car, you don’t need a bus. If you’re staying in an all inclusive resort or a surf camp that offers airport transportation, then you to and from to the airport and where you’re staying is taken care of. You can probably rent a car if you need one during your trip from a local car rental office in the town that you’re at if you’re staying in a medium size or bigger town.
Pat McNulty:
Most of the major rental car companies have an office here in Costa Rica, and so there’s a real big selection of the different kinds of rental agencies that you could use. All the major ones are here. There’s a couple of local ones, like Economy is a local Costa Rican rental car company, it has a good reputation as well as do the others. It’s a pretty simple procedure, and the only thing I would caution everyone with is that there’s not a lot of shoulders on the road, so pay attention to what you’re doing. There’s people riding bikes, there’s people walking in the road, there’s cattle in the road, there’s horses in the road, and especially at night if you’re driving in a rental car, watch out for horses and cows running out in the road. So just be careful.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah. That’s great advice as to … If you do rent a car, do your driving during the day, because you can’t see people walking or riding a bike on the road at night and there’s no bike lane, and there are cow cows and horses that get into the road. Our accountant, he just hit a horse the other day.
Pat McNulty:
Yeah. There’s nothing worse than having an accident like that, it’s devastating, it’s sad. So not that you shouldn’t drive at night, just be ultra, ultra careful because there are no street lights in a lot of places and it’s dark and it’s hard to see.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah, basically for all types of budgets. You’ve got your buses, which are real low budget. I think to get from San Jose to Tamarindo, which is on the bus maybe five or six hours maybe, maybe a little less. I think it’s 10 bucks or something like that with all your luggage and everything that you can bring, boards included.
Joe Walsh:
Pretty affordable. Then you’ve got those private shuttles [crosstalk 00:39:26].
Niki Hurren:
Yeah, you’ve got Gray Line and Interbus in-
Joe Walsh:
30 or 40 bucks or something like that.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah, yeah. They have a few stops and they’ll take you right to your hotel.
Joe Walsh:
Wifi on the shuttle I think, something like that.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah, air conditioned and stuff like that. Then you can … say with the rental companies, you can get anything from a small little Jimny all the way up to an eight, nine seater, 12 seater van, and also, in a lot of the towns now, you’re getting these golf buggies, electric golf buggies.
Joe Walsh:
Golf carts.
Niki Hurren:
Golf carts, yeah. You can rent them too if you’re staying in one place.
Joe Walsh:
Buggies.
Niki Hurren:
Buggies, trousers, pants., you know what I mean?
Joe Walsh:
I don’t.
Niki Hurren:
What do you mean you don’t? What? You don’t-
Pat McNulty:
Bonnet.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah.
Niki Hurren:
Bonnet.
Pat McNulty:
Boot. Bonnet.
Joe Walsh:
Okay, so what I’m hearing-
Niki Hurren:
Sorry.
Joe Walsh:
All right, so what I’m hearing is that there’s lots of transportation options. You could take the chicken bus, you could take a private shuttle, you could take a taxi or an Uber, you could rent a car. You probably should rent a car if you wanna see multiple cities, towns or areas of the country in a short period of time.
Pat McNulty:
Last but not least, there’s small airlines that operate in Costa Rica and I use them quite often when I’m going back and forth from Tamarindo to San Jose. It’s a great way to get around, rather than taking five hours to drive to San Jose, it takes 45 minutes and you’re seeing a lot of the country and it’s beautiful up there.
Niki Hurren:
It’s spectacular.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah. Those charter flights are beautiful and they are convenient, but we did just have an airline go out of business after two fatal crashes over a period of just a few months, about a year ago, Nature Air. They are coming back in business again, and this isn’t a podcast about talking trash, because I fly Sansa and I flew Nature air, but with these heavy winds and this very rugged terrain and this rain-
Pat McNulty:
You’re scared to fly?
Joe Walsh:
I’d rather drive.
Pat McNulty:
Okay.
Joe Walsh:
You know what? I’ve flown to the Caribbean side and back in some heavy winds and you can get around in those planes.
Pat McNulty:
Like anywhere else though, it’s actually more dangerous to drive than it is to fly. I feel totally comfortable in the air transportation here. Crashes can happen. We don’t need to get into what we think the problem was with Nature Air. I flew them a lot also, dependent on whose schedule was best. I fly Sansa now a lot, and there’s another up and coming airline that’s starting to operate. But if you wanna get to some place quick, it’s still reasonable and it’s not that dangerous.
Joe Walsh:
Otherwise, you can rent a car, and if you do, I recommend that you bring a cell phone that is unblocked and will work in Costa Rica. Look on the Internet to see if your phone applies. With a local Sim card, you’ve got a data plan, get the app Waze, W-A-Z-E, load that into your phone, punch in where you wanna go and Waze will tell you how to get there. Otherwise, you’re gonna get lost because there’s no street names here. There’s no directions really anywhere.
Pat McNulty:
This is true. My iPhone, I have the general iPhone app which gives us directions and the maps and that has also the same capabilities Waze and-
Joe Walsh:
Works pretty good?
Pat McNulty:
Most of the phone companies now, they have those plans that you can get before you travel and they’re fairly reasonable. It’s not like it was back in the day when it would cost us a dollar a minute when we were using a phone, and the data plan, if you left it, it would cost you hundreds of dollars. But now it’s fairly convenient and I’m able to get anywhere I want in this country using my direction app on my iPhone.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah. My friends, now these days when they fly down, they just use their phone from back in the States. I guess they just have international whatever on and it’s not so expensive and works great. There are cell phone towers throughout the country. All right, so what else is there to do besides surfing? I mean, this is obviously a surf podcast. We love to surf, but maybe the waves are flat or we wanna do something else, what are the top things you can do in Costa Rica when you’re not surfing?
Pat McNulty:
Well, there’s a ton of things to do in Costa Rica, you have estuary tours where you can go out and see the wildlife in the local area, and almost every river has that. You can go up to the mountains, you can see the volcanoes, you can do the hot springs, you can do some tubing, you can do some whitewater rafting, you can do some sailing off of both coasts. You can snorkel, you can scuba dive. Anything that your heart really desires, you’re able to do here.
Joe Walsh:
A lot of people love doing the canopy tour when the come to Costa Rica, that’s on everyone’s Costa Rica bucket list. That’s pretty fun.
Pat McNulty:
Yeah, there’s a ton of them around and one is better than the other.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah, you’ve got ATV tours, you’ve got sports fishing, which is very, very popular, especially in the central coast. You’ve got a lot sports fishing for Marlin and sailfish and Dorado, there’s a lot of that. The scuba diving and snorkeling, snorkeling is very, very accessible in a lot of these little beaches that you can go off to and find little reefs in little areas and you can see a lot of wildlife. The clarity isn’t the best, but the amount of marine life that is here is just unbelievable.
Joe Walsh:
A lot of marine life, maybe the diving and snorkeling is … well, it’s definitely better on the Caribbean side than the Pacific side, but there’s lots of great spots in the Pacific. You seem to find the spots that are more sheltered from the waves.
Pat McNulty:
One thing that you can always do here at the end of the day is go out on the beach, and that’s what a lot of people do, we all end up gathering on the beach for the sunset, which are always spectacular down here. So you can chill, you can play and you can just have the most marvelous time of your life in Costa Rica.
Joe Walsh:
If you like craft beer, there’s a craft beer movement that’s happening here in Costa Rica with more and more, better and better craft beer being brewed every day. So definitely, if you’re a beer fanatic, like I know that I am and in Niki, you are, there’s some great options here for beer now that didn’t use to exist. We’re brewing our own, Volcano brewing company, but there’s a few dozen craft micro breweries in the country now and some great product being produced.
Niki Hurren:
I would say there’s actually 50 plus registered, and it’s much probably more, people are just home brewing or getting started, but there is a lot. All up and down the coast pretty much in every coastal town, you will find someone that has got a microbrewery.
Joe Walsh:
We’ve got a few here, around the Tamarindo Flamingo area now. I think we’ve got, what? Four or five between here and [inaudible 00:46:19]. So you could tour local breweries too.
Pat McNulty:
It’s a whole another industry that hasn’t been tapped yet and any of your beer drinkers out there that really liked to go and find a unique place and a unique place that’s brewing beer, come down here, you’re gonna see some wildlife and you’re gonna be able to drink your beer.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah, and eat some good food, because that was the next thing I was gonna bring up? What’s the food like here? I got to say, it’s pretty darn good food.
Pat McNulty:
It’s pretty healthy food here. The [inaudible 00:46:52], the [inaudible 00:46:52], it’s just wonderful healthy food. You can get as many or as little spices as you want. The salads are fresh, hearts of palm. I don’t know if anybody’s had hearts of palm before, but I found out when I came to Costa Rica and it’s addicting, it’s just such a good tasting thing.
Joe Walsh:
So you said a casado. For those listening that don’t know what that is, a casado is literally a scoop of white rice, large scoop of white rice next to very large scoop of black beans and you got your salad, your plantains and your protein, either fish, chicken, pork or
Pat McNulty:
Beef. Yeah.
Joe Walsh:
Beef. Then that is mixed together and they add some onion and red pepper to the rice and beans, and that’s what gallo pinto is the next morning. Is that how it works?
Pat McNulty:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Joe Walsh:
So whatever the local sodas, which are the local eateries, they’ll take the rice and the beans, mix them together, add some spices. The next morning you have that gallo pinto with your eggs and your bacon and your toast or juice or whatever, and it was pretty darn good too.
Niki Hurren:
Well, Costa Rica pretty much meaning rich coast when the conquistadors, those whoever named it, they were expecting to find a lot of gold and a lot of other precious metals or minerals or whatever. But literally, there’s so much food just growing of. In my garden, at least I have a mango tree, orange tree, a lime tree and plantain and they just-
Pat McNulty:
You almost just survive by picking fruit off the trees?
Niki Hurren:
Yeah, absolutely. There’s avocados growing down here and for me, the fruit has been the biggest, I’ve never been a really great fruit lover, but since moving down there’s so many types of fruit. Especially with, again, what type of budget you’re on. You can go to the sodas, which are your local eateries, your local little restaurants where they have pretty simple, basic food, but they know they cover all the food groups and you have this really healthy, really good value meal right there for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then also you can have a lot of the largest cities and stuff like that. There, a lot of people who moved here from all over the world. A lot of people from Italy, Germany. So you can find a good German restaurant, you can find really good Italian food, good pasta and pizza. So you can have yourself a really, really high end meal and you can also go down to budget level too. So there’s everything for everybody.
Pat McNulty:
When the seafood is fresh here and every single one of these little sodas that you see when you’re going through a small town, they’re all good to stop at, maybe sample some of the food and it’s all safe. The ceviche in Costa Rica is to die for.
Joe Walsh:
There’s amazing seafood here. The ceviche is the bomb. All these sodas, they basically buy their red snapper, their pargo, their [inaudible 00:49:46], they’re buying that product from the fishermen that just went out and caught it, and the local waters, they brought it in and sold it to him, usually the day of, the day before. So really fresh seafood, really good fruits and vegetables. Overall, pretty healthy cuisine. Let’s talk about price, because people really wanna know what are the costs here? Is [inaudible 00:50:08] expensive? when we start talking about meals, you go to a local soda, you might be able to get that [inaudible 00:50:14] for five or six bucks, maybe-
Pat McNulty:
Yeah, 300 colones will get you a meal that you’ll have trouble finishing at a soda.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah. So maybe not as cheap as some other parts of world. Definitely a little more expensive than maybe some people might Realize when they’re thinking about coming here. Not overly expensive, but if it’s not grown here or caught here, it was probably imported here. I think that’s part of the reason why food costs are a little bit higher. People expect meals to be cheaper than they are, but the reality is, the cost of buying that food costs the restaurants a little bit more money. So on the cheap end, you might find a $5 or $6 meal at a cool atmosphere, sunset sort of place on the beach. Is that-
Pat McNulty:
But if you’ve got a beach front restaurants, or something like that, you’re gonna be going between sort of like plates between $8 to $12, and then the outputs of if you’re gonna get lobster or you’re gonna get red snapper, then you’re gonna be going even high. But generally, you can find budget meals around $6 to $7 and then going up to $8 to $9 to 10 to $12 for something a little bit more finer dining or in a great location, and then you have real high end, high end.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah. We’re coming in from Tamarindo, which has quite a bit of an infrastructure, lots of restaurants, lots of options, and a fair amount of tourism. If you go further south in the country, like the southern zone for example, and you’re some little [inaudible 00:51:37] town, you’re not gonna get that French bistro. You’re pretty much only gonna get a Casado or a gallo pinto in the morning, and you’re probably gonna be paying 2,500, 3,500 colones, so $5, $6. That seems to be about the bottom end of those meals these days.
Niki Hurren:
My personal favorite zone for food though is the on the Caribbean side, because that is just … the food is … You’ve got the rice and beans with coconut and they do the coconut shrimp and stuff like that. It got so much more of-
Joe Walsh:
A lot of spice.
Niki Hurren:
Yeah, just really great curries and stuff like that. But over there for me, I really, really enjoyed the food more than anything when we were over there. It was the culture really came phrased. It’s almost like it is a different country. has so much more sort of a Jamaican vibe as such, and so it really reflects in the food also.
Joe Walsh:
Okay. So let’s talk about safety as far as Costa Rica. Is Costa Rica safe as a country?
Pat McNulty:
It is safe as a country. It’s one of the safest countries in Central America. Like everywhere else, there is a crime element. But I’ll tell you what, in the United States, if you wanna find trouble, you can find it a lot easier there than you can here, you have to work at it here. If you wanna find trouble, you can find it, however, we could have a lot of single female travelers here. I recommend it. They’re safe, they can have a good time. There is a little bit of an uptick a little closer to the city with some crime, but by and large, everyone is here having a good time and you’re safe. Costa Rica on a scale of one to 10, they’re a three. So like I said, if you wanna find trouble, you can find it. But by and large, you’re gonna have a great, wonderful time here, and it’s really safe.
Niki Hurren:
The main thing I’ve found is opportunists, Opportunities theft. So if you-
Joe Walsh:
Petty theft?
Niki Hurren:
Yeah, if you leave your iPhone out and it’s sitting in the car, then someone’s genuinely going to come by. Make sure your car’s locked, make sure your stuff is hidden, make sure you’ve got your passports and your documents and stuff with you, and just be aware that there are … obviously, anywhere in the country people see opportunity, and they would rather steal than obviously you have a job or they can’t get a job or whatever it is. That’s what I find down here. I don’t see much of violent crime or anything like that. I’m bringing up a family down here, you’re doing the same also, Joe, and so I wouldn’t live here if I felt … I wouldn’t be bringing up my family if I felt it was unsafe.
Joe Walsh:
For sure. I think if you leave your shoes on the beach, they might get stolen, and if you leave your suitcase in the backseat of your car, even if your door’s locked, it might get taken.
Pat McNulty:
You wouldn’t do those kinds of things in the United States either. Maybe you could get away with leaving your shoes on the beach in the United States and nobody will take them, because everyone has shoes. But in Costa Rica you have it, they don’t, they want it. So you always have to keep that in mind. And the other thing is, is everyone gets so tranquillo down here that they drop their guard, and you can’t drop your guard. You wouldn’t do it in the United States. So don’t leave stuff out in the open in your car. Don’t take all your belongings on the beach or you risk having it taken. So just use your head. You use your head, you’re gonna to be fine.
Joe Walsh:
Well, Costa Rica, it’s safe. You don’t have to speak Spanish. It helps if you know a few words. In fact, don’t come to Costa Rica unless you’re willing to learn a few words. Otherwise, you’re just gonna be that silly gringo that just thinks if they talk louder, the Costa Rican and that doesn’t speak English will all of a sudden understand. It doesn’t work that way.
Niki Hurren:
We do that too, the English does that as well.
Joe Walsh:
Yeah.
Niki Hurren:
That’s what we’re trying to do with Brexit right now.
Joe Walsh:
You can use US dollars here in Costa Rica, but if you’re coming from anywhere else, and even if you do have US dollars, you can change your money as soon as you get to the airport or at any of the local banks. You just got to bring your passport when you go to the bank. You do need a visa from certain countries and not from others, so look online. If you’re coming from the US or Canada, you don’t need a visa. In fact, I believe most of the European countries and South American countries, Central American countries, you don’t need a visa. But I don’t have the full list.
As far as things to bring, we do have a list of things that you should bring on your trip. These things include some cash, your ATM card, which will work down here by the way, you can’t forget your sunscreen. Bug spray, board shorts or a bikini, hat, beach towel, sunglasses. Bring a rash guard if you’re going to go surfing, definitely bring a wetsuit jacket or vest or some kind of neoprene if you’re going to the northwest part of the country, especially if you’re coming in the winter months, December through march, April, when the winds are howling, it can be a little bit cold. Your cell phone will probably work down here. If it’s unlocked, you can buy a local Sim card and there’s Wifi just about everywhere, so even if your phone service doesn’t work, bring your phone, because then you’ve got your camera and everywhere you eat or wherever your state will probably have wifi so you can stay connected that way.
Most important, bring your [inaudible 00:56:54] attitude. Be Chill, don’t come down with your US aggression or your issues. Don’t bring them in the water, don’t bring them to the bar. I think that about wraps it up. We’ve talked about just about everything, talked about the waves, where to find them, the best time of year, the boards you should bring, answered a lot of other questions about coming to Costa Rica. It doesn’t matter where you’re coming to Costa Rica, there’s waves all over, up and down the Pacific coast and the Caribbean coast, just lots of surf, does break year round. It does get good year round. Now you know.
Pat McNulty:
If anyone has any questions, Joe, how would they be able to ask those questions online?
Joe Walsh:
Well, you can email the podcast at getoutandsurfcr@gmail.com, and we’ll get back to you. This is probably a good time to say that the Get Out and Surf podcast is brought to you by Witch’s Rock Surf Camp and Tamarindo, Costa Rica. We have been running Witch’s Rock Surf Camp for almost 20 years. It’s a great place to come on a surfing vacation. You don’t need a car, we’ll pick you up at the airport the entire week, take care of everything, we’ve got great packages at a great price. You can check out the website, which is rocksurfcamp.com, and if we can help you out further, just give us a call at 1-888-318-SURF. Thanks again for listening to the Get Out and Surf podcast. Special thanks to Patrick McNulty and Niki Hurren for being on the show. I hope you liked the podcast.
Our entire goal here is to provide you with value, whether it’s surfing tutorials, interviews with unique characters from the surfing world, surf trip reviews, or just talking story about going surfing right here in Costa Rica. Do me a favor and give the show a review, do that on iTunes, Spotify or whenever podcast player you’re using, this makes it easier for other people to find us. I’m Joe Walsh from Tamarindo, Costa Rica. This is Get Out and Surf and I will see you surfing.

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