When you are planning a surf trip to improve your surfing there are many factors to consider. Do you want to stay in a dedicated camp with several beginners or do you prefer an experience where you will receive more personal attention? Do they have other activities like yoga and Stand Up Paddleboarding? Do they support the local community by doing outreach programs? To help you answer these questions, we have been working with several surf camps run by women that make you feel comfortable in the waves and specialize in women’s surf adventures. Surfing with a group of women has a congeniality not found in many coed camps and you will be supporting women-led businesses who support the local surf community.
Here are a handful of the best Costa Rica has to offer:
When they started in 2004, Mal Pais was a tiny surf town with endless waves breaking on both sandy beaches and rocky points. Tierza Eichner had visited Costa Rica two years before, knew there was something special about the surfing community here and decided to ditch the corporate world in order to pass on the pura vida to others. Their skilled instructors teach only small groups with no more than a three to one student to teacher ratio. Beginners can watch video to see how they can improve their form on the waves. They also will take the surf van to different beaches based on the skill level of their students.
What stands out about Pura Vida Adventures is the bond guests form during their stay. As Tierza explains: “Community is such a key ingredient in our surf camps. The week is more than just learning to surf and having fun, it is about connecting with other people and being part of something special. Like minded women come together and during this week the connection they make with each other and us are really strong and powerful.”
Their all-inclusive surf retreats are either coed or for women only, with certain dates focusing on yoga instruction. A package includes three gourmet meals, accommodations at their beachside resort, board rentals and lessons, a Pura Vida Adventures rashguard, a one-hour massage, 24-hour concierge service, unlimited bottled water, video analysis and daily yoga classes.
Rates start at $2395 per person for a week.
Del Mar Surf Camp was started in 2001 by Maria del Mar, a Costa Rica native. Maria is proud of this, as well as being a mother, surfer and female business owner who follows her mission of providing local, sustainable tourism and empowering women through it all. Surfing, the ocean, and her beautiful country feeds her spirit, as does living an active and healthy lifestyle with her two daughters. Based in Nosara, Maria loves the simplicity of beach life, including the chill pace and gorgeous sunsets. She considers herself lucky to have transformed her passion for surfing into her life’s work. “I can’t wait to share all of this and my country’s epic waves with you,” she says.
Del Mar Surf Camp has three locations: Jaco, Nosara, and Popoyo (Nicaragua). They are licensed by the Costa Rica National Tourism Institute and are certified as a Sustainable Business and their instructors are all ISA (International Surfing Association) certified to teach surfing. One week all-inclusive packages start at $1875 per person for shared accommodations. It includes transportation, three healthy meals per day, daily surf lessons with a maximum 2:1 student to teacher ratio, surfboard rentals, and daily yoga classes.
The Surf Inn Hermosa is located on the beach of Playa Hermosa, five kilometers south of Jaco. It is hosted by Christina Truitt, a vibrant and entertaining woman with a passion for yoga, healthy living, and all outdoor activities. “From pickup to drop off we take care of making sure you don’t have to worry about anything else other than having fun.” Surf Inn Hermosa’s personalized attention makes the Active Lifestyle Packages unique and different from other surf camp experiences. “Having been a client of various surf camps around the world, these packages were created to be what I wanted to receive as a paying customer. Personalized attention and a healthy active routine helps put the client in the present moment, which is the secret of health for both the mind and the body. Being able to stay a few hundred feet from the ocean and experience a vacation full of active options at the same time is a plus all around in itself.”
Surfing is just one of the many fun filled activities to participate in here in the Central Pacific zone of Costa Rica along with yoga, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, hikes on the mountain, HIIT and CrossFit classes. Located ten minutes from the urban setting of Jaco Beach, there is no shortage of things to do or add-on activities to experience either. Surf Inn Hermosa makes it easy to revitalize, restore and recharge – all while having fun on vacation. They have three types of all-inclusive surf packages, from learning to surf, an advanced surf trips and a surfing fitness program. They include roundtrip transportation to the airport and surf breaks, accommodations, breakfast, dinner and a surf trainer/guide. Surfboard rentals are included in the beginner program. Prices start at $1,295 per person (shared accommodations) for a 7 day, 6 night trip.
Costa Rica Surf and Paddle camp was started by Karla Polinaris who is based near San Jose and takes groups all over the country. They have SUP and kayak tours at Playa Mantas (just north of Jaco) as well as surf lessons in Dominical, Jaco, and Herradura. Karla also takes groups to lakes closer to the city for day trips paddleboarding. She says her business is special “because we show people and women in general that there isn’t one thing they cannot try and work hard to achieve. If you fall off that surfboard or paddleboard, you get back and keep trying. We teach perseverance and mental strength. We push each other, specially girls, to feel good about ourselves no matter what, and that obstacles are only on our minds. We teach how to relax and laugh. Here age, weight, etcetera are not an issue.”
You don’t have to be in San Jose to book a tour or lesson, just check out their Facebook page and send Karla a message. Lessons start at $40 per person for a small group and longer stand up paddleboarding and kayaking trips start at $60. Of course all rentals are included.
Debbie Zec was born in Dominical and grew up surfing the local break. She surfed competitively in the national surf circuit and worked as an instructor in many other surf camps before starting her own. Over the years she has taught over 4000 students how to surf. She has friendly, qualified surf instructors in both Jaco and Dominical to help beginners stand up for the first time, or advanced surfers find uncrowded peaks. She also helped to form ‘Chicas con Proposito’ (Girls with Purpose) in 2015, a group with the goal of getting more girls to surf and give them more confidence and joy in their lives.
Their packages include airport pick up and drop off, surf lessons, lodging, board rental, and start at only $710 for a week. Debbie explains that once you arrive “we will be your host, surf instructor, and friend. During your stay you’ll be surfing every day, exploring, chilling, eating delicious food, and relaxing!”
The sandbars of Dominical are shaped by the Rio Baru, which produces a great lineup for consistent waves. That is why when you pull into town you see a number of surf camps. Another one that stands out is CR Surf School, run by Kaitlyn Berg. She has been visiting Costa Rica since 1994 and moved to Dominical in 2010. They employ all local instructors and have their office set up right across from the beach. “We go above and beyond to make sure our guests have a unique experience, sharing with them our love for surfing and Playa Dominical. We enjoy building lifelong friendships with our visitors and focus on each guest’s individual needs to make sure they have an experience they won’t forget.”
They have both basic and luxury packages that include transportation, lodging, lessons, rentals, photos, daily breakfast and optional tours. The basic package starts at $675 per person for six days and seven nights, or you can design your own package to fit your vacation wishes.
Another great option for a surf camp in Dominical is run by Jeanine Haddad. She hosts Dominical Wave Rider, which prides itself on working with surf instructors who are also local lifeguards. Jeanine has been passionate about surfing since she was a child and now runs the Chicas con Proposito program to inspire future generations of women’s surfers.
Their packages run from budget stays in hostels to all-inclusive luxury stays in a private home overlooking the jungle and beaches. Prices start as low as $530 per person for a week of lodging, transportation, five lessons, photo analysis and daily breakfasts. Optional activities can include yoga, zip-lines, waterfalls, horseback riding, bird watching, white water rafting, rappelling, sport fishing and scuba diving.
Adilia Zuniga is Surf Bikini’s co-founder and Retreat Director. Adilia is from Nosara and has a love for surfing and her Costa Rican culture that is nothing less than contagious. In every facet of the surf retreat she and her professional staff strive to bring you closer to developing a true understanding and love for the lifestyle of surfing and the beauty of Costa Rica. Her love of surfing and dedication to providing local young girls with surfing lessons led her to establish the Club Nosara Ticas Surf Club, a pro bono program dedicated to providing surfing and life lessons for local young girls in Nosara.
Surf Bikini Retreat, located in lovely Nosara, is a “surf/yoga camp” exclusively catering to females of all surfing levels. At Surf Bikini, Adilia shares that “our all-female coaching staff creates a unique surf learning environment that enables our guest to reach their fullest potential. The retreat is renowned for offering fresh heathy meals combined with spoiling the guest with massages, adventure tours, a bunch of fun enjoying the local “live music” and cuisine at some of the finest restaurants in Nosara. This all creates an unforgettable unique vacation adventure for women where they have fun learning to surf while also experiencing a slice of the pura vida culture.”
Their all-inclusive 8 day, 7 night package starts at $1,850 per person.