Costa Rica is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. With hundreds of beaches, and great surf, surfers have been heading there for decades. If there’s a vacation in your future, Costa Rica would be a great place to go, and to ensure that you have the best vacation possible, we highly recommend a surf retreat.
Why a Retreat?
While traveling freestyle can be a lot of fun, and a great adventure, it also means a lot of time spent figuring out where to go and what to do. You have to figure out where you want to eat, where you’ll stay, and get yourself from one place to another. A retreat simplifies all of that by covering the basics so you can focus on fun activities.
In addition to having a great time, relaxation and renewal are important parts of a vacation. That’s really what sets a surfing retreat apart from just going on vacation, even if surfing is the main attraction. The retreat will include time for slowing down, and in Costa Rica, getting back in touch with nature is typically part of that, just by being in such an amazing environment.
Throw in Surfing and Yoga
Surf retreats in Costa Rica are typically located right on the beach. They usually include a daily surf lesson, which provides a great opportunity to learn new skills. The other advantage of taking lessons, even for advanced surfers, is that consistent practice is what will make the new skills stick, so spending that lesson time focused on learning basic skills if you are a beginner, or improving your technique if you are already a seasoned surfer, will help you get better and build good habits. Then you have the rest of the day to surf on your own or participate in other activities.
In Costa Rica, most of the surf retreats also include yoga. We’ve published several pieces on the benefits of yoga for surfers, so be sure to check them out in our online magazine, but in a nutshell, yoga strengthens your core and many of the muscles that you use when surfing, improves balance, and teaches you how to use your breath. Yoga is not only about training your body, but also about increasing your self-awareness and ability to stay focused. That sense of being in the moment and totally focused on the wave, of not being distracted by anything else in the world, is one of the things that surfers love most about their sport. Yoga training helps you feel at one with your body and completely in the moment.
Costa Rican Surf Retreats
Retreats provide lodging and at least some of your meals. There are usually activities planned and some free time for exploring on your own. In addition to expert yoga and surfing instructors, you get the advantage of having experts on the local culture to show you around and advise you about the best things to do in the area.
The dry season is the best time to visit Costa Rica, which is from late November to late April (think November through spring break). That’s known as high season and is the time when most tourists will be there, and it is the more expensive time to visit, so depending on your situation, you may be willing to settle for wetter weather to save money.
Prices for retreats range from about $645 to over $2,800 for seven days and six nights. You can find packages for shorter or longer stays, and as with all things, discounts may be available. You can usually get the best rate by sharing a room, and many programs have separate rate schedules for high and low season.
More basic retreats will include lodging and breakfast plus board usage, and a yoga or surf lesson daily. The high-end retreats will include more luxurious accommodations, all meals, yoga and surf lessons, as well as outings, and may include extras like massages or professional surfing photography.
Surf retreats are available all over Costa Rica, so you can decide whether you’d like to be in a remote small village or a happening modern area. Whether you want your evenings to be quiet or exciting should play a part in choosing which retreat you’d like to participate in. Here are a few examples that show the range of what’s available:
Lucero Surf Retreats is a family-run business and their focus is on keeping groups small and offering individual attention. They are also a recommended program for families that are looking for an adventure vacation.
Pura Vida Adventures runs ladies-only yoga and surf retreats that are on the high end as far as luxuries and price go, but are highly recommended if you are a woman looking for a little pampering to accompany your surfing adventure.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are looking for a very cool, but cheap, place to stay, look into Ranchos Itauna. The hotel has four rooms (two of them have kitchens) and it’s on the beach. Retreat packages are available, or you can go ala carte and hire a surf guide or schedule a lesson if you decide you want to after you arrive.
The internet is a handy resource for getting information about the various packages available. BookYogaRetreats.com put together an extremely useful list of yoga and surf retreats, which we particularly liked because it includes prices, program length and review ratings right on the main page, with links to each retreat so you can get more information on the ones that appeal to you.
Easy Introduction to Solo Adventuring
Solo travel is becoming more popular all the time. For some, it’s a way to do what they want to, when they don’t know anyone else who shares the same priorities, or wants to do the same thing. For others, it can be part of a personal growth process. Time alone to regroup and get back in touch with yourself is valuable after a long-term relationship ends, or you have a major life change. Yet another reason for solo travel is to strengthen your social skills and get away from doing the same things with the same people all the time.
It can be stressful to travel alone though, so attending a retreat is a great way to get away from the familiar people and places, yet still feel safe and secure at the same time. You’ll meet people there who have common interests, so you won’t be completely alone.
Whether you decide to go it alone or take a friend, a surfing retreat in Costa Rica is a fantastic way to enjoy one of the most beautiful places in the world, improve your surfing, take time to relax, and also take part in local adventures.
Have you been on a retreat? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below! What was the best part?