At Surf Simply, there is an old surfboard, covered in blackboard paint, that they write the day's schedule on. On a typical day, the board looks something like this: breakfast - surf - yoga - lunch - surf theory/video analysis - surf - dinner. If that sounds remotely good to you in the abstract, you should go, because the reality is even better. The way the Surf Simply team puts it all together will exceed all your expectations.
Surf instruction: This is really the reason to come here rather than any of a thousand other great beaches in the world. Ru has devised a great system for explaining the hows and whys of surfing, and gathered a great team of coaches to help you apply it to your own surfing. If you have a little bit of surfing experience, you will be amazed how much you didn't know. They will rebuild you from the ground up, Six-Million-Dollar-Man style. They will explain what proper stance is and how position is critical to making a surfboard do what you want it to do in the water. I had surfed green waves before, and I'll confess to initially being bummed out at the idea of spending the first day in the whitewater learning these principles. But it was by far the best way to learn how to make the board stall and accelerate, and how to properly make trimming and carving turns. When we went out the back the next day, where there was a lot more to think about, we could do it with confidence that we had the basics under our belts.
My coach was Oli. The instruction he gave me was incredibly helpful both in the water and on video analysis. His advice was always specific and practical. Why did I lose my speed and stall out? You didn't get your weight on your front foot fast enough. Why couldn't I trim right on that wave? Your front foot was off center, which kept your weight to the left. Oli also taught us how to read waves, including figuring out if they were steep enough/too steep to catch, whether they were going to break left or right, and whether they were going to peel or close out. I didn't come close to mastering all this in a week, but I made a ton of progress and know what to look for in the future. That's the best kind of training you could ask for.
I went with my wife, and her coach was Prado. She is, by her own admission, not particularly athletic. She had never been on a surfboard, and in fact usually doesn't like getting her face wet in the ocean. Prado was perfect for her -- extremely patient and encouraging. He had her standing up and riding whitewater waves in no time. When I thought she didn't have enough gas in the tank at the start of another session, she always came back smiling and happy, amazed at her progress. Thanks to Prado's guidance, she learned she was capable of way more than she ever thought.
Surf conditions: Playa Guiones is a great place to learn. It is really safe: the lineup is not crowded and the bottom is sandy. The offshore winds in the morning make for beautifully shaped and groomed waves. Things got a little choppy sometimes with onshore winds in the afternoon, but it was still better conditions than I'd had elsewhere. I was a little freaked out before I came to see that magicseaweed was forecasting only 1-2 foot waves for the whole week. But the way it played out in reality was great: knee-to-waist high earlier in the week, with waist-to-chest-high sets later in the week, when we were better prepared for it. Every session was great and presented its own challenges, which is great for learning.
Food: My wife and I are a little snobby about food, so this was another aspect of the trip that exceeded all my expectations. Sarah, the resort chef, made meals that were light, delicious, and perfectly fit the coastal setting. But they also provided plenty of fuel for surfing. Seared tuna, mahi, red snapper, shrimp and avocado salad, all in bright, flavorful sauces... One of the guests, Mark, caught a tuna while deep-sea fishing on the day off. They butchered it up and we ate the freshest sushi you could ask for. Lulu, who is a character herself, also came in to make muffins and chocolate bars. I hear the muffins were great, but Rob (another guest) was obsessed and ate all of them... There is also a fridge, accessible 24/7, stocked with beer, sodas, and seltzer, and fruit is always available for snacking. The dinners out in Nosara were also pretty good, although generally not up to Sarah's cooking, and the drinks always seemed a little light on the booze.
Rooms: Because there weren't many pictures of the rooms on the web site or trip advisor, I wasn't expecting much. But the chalets/casitas/bungalows/whatever-you-want-to-call-them were nice and clean, with a spare, modern-ish aesthetic. It is not Four Seasons-style luxury, but it's tasteful. No tacky beach-condo, seashells-and-seagulls cliches here. The private patios are also really nice to have.
Photos/videos: You've probably seen that Surf Simply documents your week through photos and videos they post on facebook, flickr, and youtube. You couldn't ask for better mementos of your trip. Laura is great at her job. If you happen to have a moment looking cool on a wave, she'll capture it. If you happen to have a ridiculous-looking wipeout, she'll capture that too. You can see the quality of her work yourself by going to the sites above, so I'll just add that having these pictures will mean a lot to you once you return to the working world after your trip.
People (Surf Simply staff): The Surf Simply coaches and staff are all great, friendly, positive people. They not only take care of your every need, they make you feel like you are part of a special experience. In addition to the people mentioned above, Dani and Alice do a great job taking care of all your trip logistics for you so you don't have to worry about them. When I made a couple remarks along the lines of "Wouldn't it be nice if..." boom, Alice made it happen.
People (other guests): Another revelation of the trip was how great it was to meet and hang out with the other guests. I was a little wary about how much communal time there would be, as you eat almost all your meals with and spend a lot time in the common-area lounge and pool with 12 strangers. But that turned out to be one of the best parts of the experience. Every single person had a sense of humor and interesting things to say--it was like having a great dinner party every night of the week. I really enjoyed getting to know these people, and they really made the experience complete. Hopefully you will be as lucky when you go.
Tips: If you don't have much experience, you should know that surfing twice a day for a week is incredibly physically demanding. You have to book your trip way in advance, so after you make your reservation, use that as motivation to train. If you're not a swimmer, start swimming laps. Work on your flexibility. I thought I did a lot of training before I came, but even so, I was not fully prepared. There is nothing worse than paddling out and having to watch a great set roll past you because you're too tired to turn around and go for it. My surf buddy, Xiheng, was about the same level as me skill-wise. But he was also a paddling machine, and as a result he probably caught twice as many waves as me. As I sat in my office in front of a computer last week, all those missed opportunities were haunting me.
Also, I'd recommend that even if you're really into photography, you should leave your gear at home. I thought hey, it's Costa Rica, I'll take this opportunity to get all kinds of beautiful pictures. Well, I lugged a heavy bag full of gear -- big DSLR, lenses, tripod -- thousands of miles and hardly had a chance to use any of it. You probably won't either, so just bring a point-and-shoot for a few shots around the resort and count on Laura to do the rest.
So just go.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Surf Simply has broken the surf camp mold by providing coaching of a standard one would usually expect to receive in more mainstream sports. The makes of the Surf Simply podcast (available on iTunes) offer all inclusive package from their beautiful boutique surf coaching resort in Nosara, Costa Rica. You stay incorporates not only - video analysis, theory sessions on everything from board design to surf forecasting, pool training and in water coaching during your two fun surf session each day; but also transfers, accommodation, yoga classes, massage, fresh home cooked food and a variety of destinations in the evening from beach BBQs to stunning cliff top restaurants. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Surf Simply Costa Rica/Nosara