Famous for its gorgeous sandy beaches, Costa Rica is a haven for both amateur and professional surfers. The lure of surfing in Costa Rica is not only due to its beauty, but also the fact that there are two oceans within an 8-hour drive of one another.
Before venturing into the great blue ocean, take some time to educate yourself about the surrounding area and potential hazards. Some beaches in Costa Rica have sting rays, so shuffling your feet when you walk can scare them away and help avoid getting stung. Study the weather for the days you plan to surf and know what to expect for waves, depending on wind speed and wind duration. Educate yourself about rip tides, as they are the leading water hazard for all beachgoers. If you are ever caught in a rip tide, remain calm and do not fight the current. Attempt to swim parallel to the beach or float and let the rip current pull you out as it diminishes.
Know Your Limitations
Depending on the waves, more than just basic swimming skills may be required. Anyone attempting to surf should feel comfortable in the water, keeping in mind that the ocean is more powerful than a pool or lake. Costa Rica offers a variety of beaches with different breaks and conditions, so there is something for everyone, beginners to advanced. That being said, never go out in surf that is beyond your capabilities; even the smallest wave can knock you down if it catches you off guard. Be aware of your own personal physical limitations.
Use Common Sense
Prepare yourself the same way you would with any beach adventure. Use sunscreen and try to avoid direct sunlight during the peak hours. When surfing or just hanging out on the sand, keep protected with proper attire such sunglasses, foot protection and headgear. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcoholic beverages. Swim with buddies and make sure someone knows where you will be at all times. Basic first aid and CPR are valuable life skills that could save lives in any dangerous situation.
Taking basic precautions will make your Costa Rica surfing trip more enjoyable and less risky.
As a part of supporting our local community, Real Surf Trips is offering an emergency first aid and child safety course in April. The day long training will be in Spanish and free to locals. For more information, contact our Managing Director, Bob Witty, here.