It’s really hard to think about how to approach this post because my trip to Costa Rica meant so much to me. There are no words to do it justice. I spent a week at a surf camp in Santa Teresa, a small beach town on the peninsula west of San Jose. Here I did some of the best surfing I’ve ever done. I met some of the best people I’ve ever known. And I finally had a chance to disconnect from a pretty crazy life.
Getting to Santa Teresa
I first flew to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, and spent a night there before flying to Santa Teresa. Getting to Santa Teresa is definitely an adventure. I took a local flight from San Jose to Tambor and then I was picked up in a taxi to the my surf camp. Local flights are conducted in small planes that fit about 10 people. I was a bit freaked out because I’ve never flown in such a small plane before. But after we took off, I got comfortable, and it was actually a pretty cool way to see the country.
After a 30 minute ride, I was picked up in a taxi organized by my surf camp – Believe Surf and Yoga. I gotta give them a huge shout out because this place is absolutely amazing. They take care of you from beginning to end. When I arrived, a volunteer walked me through my stay including the surf lessons, yoga classes, and anything else I needed. They also go above and beyond to foster community among guests by organizing daily events. This was essential for me as I was traveling by myself.
The first night
The first day was pretty chill with me unpacking, reading at the beach, and then trying out some of the local food. I honestly thought every night would be like this, and I was okay with that. I came here to surf, get in some good reading time, and destress. But I guess life doesn’t always work out the way you think it will. I had gone to dinner by myself at the local soda, and as I was walking back to my room, I saw a bunch of people just hanging out in the common area. I thought “ehh I guess I could say hi and see what’s up”. Well saying hi turned into talking til late. I went to bed thinking…these people are actually pretty cool!
My first surf lesson
The next day was my first surf lesson. I was nervous but also really excited. Believe organizes a shuttle to take you to Hermosa Beach (ya like the LA beach lol) where they have surf instructors waiting for you. My instructor was a dude named Armando. He taught us all about the waves at Hermosa, how to stand up on the board, and how to safely wipe out. It was more knowledge than any other instructor had given me before this. And I had already had 2 lessons before. This lesson really took it out of me though. Me and 2 other people from the camp went one by one catching waves continuously. At the end, all I wanted to do was take a nap.
After I came back from the surf lesson, I took a dip in the pool before showering and getting lunch. Later that night, me and my new surf friends headed out to Santa Teresa beach for our first sunset. It was absolutely amazing. There is nothing like a beach sunset, and I don’t think I’ve seen one as beautiful as the one in Santa Teresa. And what made it even better were the people I was with. I was starting to get the feeling this was a special group.
Day to Day
Every day was like the first with little variations. I would start the day with surfing or a surf lesson. Then get lunch with some of my new friends. Hang out til dinner. Go to a big group dinner. Drink and talk til late. Sleep and repeat. It was such a simple way to go about my day but it was definitely needed. After the first 1-2 days, I started to really relax. There’s just something about Santa Teresa and Believe in particular. Everyone is so calm, and there is a sense of community that’s missing in big US cities. Neighbors help each other out. People live a moment at a time. Things like schedules or being on time don’t matter. After a few days, this started to rub off on me.
If you can’t tell at this point, the main highlight of my trip were the people I met. From the first night, a group of us did literally everything together. We surfed together. We ate meals together. We went on ATV adventures together. We did yoga together. We drank lots of gin together. It was the one part I didn’t expect but made this my favorite trip. I’ve never met people who I vibed so well with off the bat. It almost felt like it was meant to be. My favorite memories were when we just sat around the common area and hung out til late in the night. These people truly inspired me with their generosity, kindness, and zest for life. They are the part I miss most about my trip, and I can’t wait to see them again.
Writing about my trip gives me major feels. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a great trip that’s changed me forever. And it really all comes down to the people. Anna, Britt, Carmen, Emily, Gurv, Igor, Jana, Lloyd, Nick, and Yuta you always have a special place in my heart.
For your reference, here is a breakdown of my trip including where I stayed, how I got around, places I ate at, and general travel tips.
ATV or walk everywhere. The roads in Santa Teresa are not great. There are only dirt roads with big pot holes everywhere, so ATVs are the best way to get around. I rented mine for $50 a day from a place called Congo Adventures. The next best thing is to walk everywhere, but there are some parts of Santa Teresa that are a bit far to get to. It also can get hot and humid by midday.
- El Facon – Cute place with good food, good beer, and a live band on some nights.
- El Patio – Healthy food options and yummy smoothies. Vegan friendly.
- Taco Corner – Really good tacos at a good price. Try the octopus tacos if they have them!
- Satori – Solid sushi place
- Soda Tiquicia – Affordable and locally owned. Great traditional Costa Rican food.
Things to Do
- Lay on the beach
- Hike to Montezuma Falls
- Visit Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve
- BUG SPRAY. There are mosquitos everywhere, and I was basically eaten alive here. So bug spray is essential.
- Don’t bring anything nice to wear especially in the wet months because you will probably get dust or mud on them. I can’t tell you how many times I got mud on my clothes every day.
- Most places will accept USD, so you don’t need a ton of colones. The general rule of thumb is if something is priced in colones, pay with colones; if something is priced in USD pay with USD.
- Eat at sodas. These are locally owned restaurants that serve traditional Costa Rican cuisine. They are affordable, and the food is soooooo good.
- Don’t walk on the beach at night. I didn’t do it because more than 1 person told me not to.