I was fresh off the Pacific Paddle Games 2015 event in Dana Point, California (doing primary research for my final grad project at Georgetown University) when I got the yearning desire to take a surf trip. I had surfed with my friends (lifelong surfers) in La Jolla but I was such a sloppy surfer and my fear of going out to the lineup prevented me from my full potential in this sport – it was clear that I needed some surf lessons if I wanted to enjoy surfing.
My schedule was crazy hectic – grad school, full-time job, military work – so I didn’t have lot of time to do research or plan a trip. There were a few stand up paddle (SUP) surf adventures going on but they were all booked up so my options were limited. My friend Micalla suggested that I try the camp that Yolo uses in Costa Rica for a solo trip to surf and SUP surf. I reached out to Vista Guapa Surf Camp and the planning commenced.
Jason at Vista Guapa was amazing! He helped me plan my flights, and coordinated transportation – he was a travel agent guru who took care of all my itinerary details – THANK YOU Jason!
When my semester ended I embarked on one of the most fascinating adventures I have ever been on! From the minute I arrived in Costa Rica I got good vibes about my trip – no wonder they use the phrase “Pura Vida” all the time. Everyone I met in Costa Rica was happy and full of life – just what I needed after three straight year of school!
A nice guy named Marco picked me up at the airport and brought me to the camp, 1.5 hrs away from San Jose Airport via the “Old Highway” – which is the best way to experience this little journey. We stopped by some tropical areas on the way, sample coffee beans from the plants, and he gave me some history of the country – he clearly loved his country!
When I arrived at Vista Guapa I had no idea what to expect, who I would meet, or who I would be surfing with and taking lessons from. Upon my arrival, after filling out my in processing forms I spent some time with this sweet young lady Mabel, Alvaro Solano’s daughter, who is studying law and on her break from school. She was so cute! She chatted me up about her dad, her recent accomplishments and her excitement to go on holiday to the U.S. to experience New Years in Times Square. I really enjoyed my time chatting with her, she really impressed upon me the beauty and experience of Vista Guapa, and how it came to be – she is so proud of her dad, Alvaro!
The camp has three cottages, split in two, and can accommodate up to 12 people. The camp is like retreat – free of electronics or wifi in the rooms – it is centered around relaxing and surfing. My first night there I met another family from New Jersey that was on a holiday with their five daughters ages (7-18). The mom had been to the camp two times prior and took her whole family for a surf holiday before Christmas. They were all very friendly, welcoming, and excited to spend time together surfing – yeah!
My first morning at the camp was up early to get surf familiarization with Alvaro. He is a surf legend in Costa Rica and has been surfing for many years – he really assesses your ability and form so you get the most out of the surf lessons. He could tell immediately that I was both excited and nervous – he was so gentle and informative with his training to ease me into the sport so that I enjoyed it. I am very thankful that he took the extra time to help me with my fear of getting out to the lineup and being in the deep water. I think we both look back now and can laugh because now you can’t keep me from going out. I think back and wonder “what was I so afraid of? this is so much fun!” – I love hoping waves, going under them and being in the deep water – this is a huge contrast to my first time in the water.
Over the course of one week I went from fear to happiness in the ocean – embracing the waves and adventure that each one had. Alvaro and his crew really go above and beyond to help you get the most out of your surf lessons. The are encouraging, helpful, fun, happy and show such excitement when the clients achieve their goals – they really care and that speaks volumes about Vista Guapa. They have so many visitors that return year after year to experience all that they have to offer.
The trip included my airport transfers, accommodations, breakfast, dinner, and most importantly the surf lessons. The accommodations were great, I was solo traveler and I enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the area. It took me a couple days to relax but once I did, it was the most content feeling I have ever had. I really enjoyed staying at the camp. The breakfasts were the best I have had traveling. Giselle and Edwin make it a real treat – they serve up some of the most healthy, fresh and tasty treats you will have – I promise! Dinners were at local restaurants and we dined with Edwin each night. He really made a point to suggest great local plates when we dined with him. I had fun having him as a dinner date each night – he was such a GEM!
Overall, I would say that this was one of the most amazing and unique adventures I have ever been on. Alvaro, David, Edwin, and Wendy really went above and beyond to take care of me and make it very memorable. Like all their other repeat visitors, I miss it and I WILL be back! Pura Vida – thank you Alvaro!