The first surf school to be STOKE Certified and the first hotel in Central America to be STOKE Certified have just done so under one roof in the rustic surf and yoga destination that is Playa Guiones, Costa Rica.
In February, the surf school and hotel were both assessed by local independent evaluator and co-director of the Costas Verdes reforestation nonprofit, Gerardo Bolaños. Safari Surf School achieved a compliance score of 81% against the STOKE Surf Operators standard and Olas Verdes scored 84% against the STOKE Surf Accommodations standard, which each earned them certification at the Sustainable level.
Tim Marsh, CEO of Safari Surf School, has been patiently awaiting this moment, “We were one of the first members to join STOKE at our old hotel in 2012, and were close to certification when majority owners of the property changed hands in 2013. At that point, I set out to create a more sustainable HQ with like-minded partners. A few years later, Olas Verdes opened its doors and we transitioned our management practices to this state-of-the-art sustainable hotel so we could be the first STOKE Certified surf school. Today, Safari Surf is honored to hold this prestigious title and I’m forever grateful to my amazing partners and staff for their hard work and dedication to making this dream come true!”
In addition to being housed in the first LEED Platinum hotel in Central America — awarded for its sustainable design and construction features with rooftop solar, recycled greywater drip irrigation, integrated tree architecture, upcycled glass mosaics, and much more — Safari Surf and Olas Verdes have evolved into a complementary sustainability management duo. They collaborate on beach cleanups, host national surf rescue trainings, volunteer for coastal reforestation, average close to 80% waste diversion, and they organize Pack for a Purpose donations to separate local schools to double their impact.
After Tropical Storm Nate devastated the town last October, Olas Verdes and Safari Surf decided to donate 4% of the hotel’s sales for three months as well as raise over $10,000 via GoFundMe to rebuild their employee’s homes that were swept away or destroyed in the flooding.
“The allocation of funds and restoration projects were managed and democratized by staff across the surf school, hotel, and El Manglar restaurant, which is a testament to the camaraderie our employees share,” added Luis Pardo, General Manager of Olas Verdes. “All of the staff are local and take great pride in their culture as well as the culture of sustainability and community we have built here together, which has been a seamless fit with the STOKE program. The level of support from the owners at Safari Surf and Olas Verdes is unlike anything I’ve ever seen—especially in the case of El Manglar.”
Rather than hire someone to manage their restaurant, the owners helped two women from Nosara form their own business as a microfinance initiative where culinary school tuition and restaurant equipment expenses were covered. El Manglar has since focused on sourcing from the local organic farm through curated menu creation centered around authentic “Tico” dishes and has run a successful restaurant for over two years now.
The story of Safari Surf and Olas Verdes and their partnership represents the poster child of what STOKE embodies in terms of integrating sustainability from the ground up and beyond. It has been nothing short of remarkable to watch their teams put what we’ve preached into practice and make it their own.
Surfers everywhere now have another sustainable destination to consider when planning their next surf trip. Whether you want to bring a board to Olas Verdes, choose from one of Safari Surf’s rental quiver of Firewire TimberTek eco-boards, or learn to surf with veteran local instructors, Playa Guiones and the surrounding breaks have everything to offer from beginners to seasoned surf travelers.