Shaka Beach Retreat, my home for a week, is off a dusty dirt road in the jungle near Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. This adult surf getaway is just a five–minute walk to Playa Hermosa and offers daily lessons (except on Sundays) for beginners, advanced surfers and everyone in between. Groups are small and intimate – three students per instructor – and lessons usually start early: After a sunrise snack, we make our way through the jungle to the beach, our boards in tow. One of the coaches assesses my skills to see what level I’m at (high beginner), and then we’re into the ocean to tackle the whitewater. Day by day my technique improves with instruction from the coaches and, by the end of the week, I advance enough to paddle out and join the line. Elated, I catch a green wave with a push from one of the instructors and feel the brute strength of the ocean propel me toward the shore.
Our art director lives the pura vida and learns to surf green waves on Costa Rica's Pacific coast.
When You’re Not on the Water
Three meals a day are included in your stay, all prepared on site with local ingredients. Everyone eats together, sharing surf stories from the day, at a communal table shaded by a palm–thatched roof. Mornings begin with a snack of yogurt, fresh fruit and granola before you head out into the surf. After a two–hour lesson, brunch is served – I’m still dreaming of the breakfast burrito with chipotle mayo that was substantial enough to tide me over until dinner. An evening meal is served every day except Saturday – highlights include the arroz con pollo and any dish made with freshly caught fish.
After a strenuous surf session, I welcomed the stretch of a yoga class to soothe my sore muscles. The open–air yoga studio is tucked away at the end of a path surrounded by tropical foliage. Afternoon classes, taught by experienced yoga instructors, are offered daily and range from gentle restorative sessions to a more active vinyasa practice. I had been to the odd class or two before, but yoga in the jungle is an entirely different experience: During one session, as we held position in child’s pose, I could hear howler monkeys in the treetops above. A gecko even came to say hello as I relaxed on the mat in my final shavasana.
3 More Surf Camps to Try
Surf Camp Australia, Gerroa, Australia
Surf, eat and sleep at this all–inclusive camp on Seven Mile Beach, just a two–hour drive away from Sydney. Spend your days riding the waves (keep your eyes peeled for dolphins) and your nights at the pool or café. surfcamp.com.au
Surf berbere, Taghazout, Morocco
An idyllic fishing village on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, Taghazout has it all: breathtaking sunsets, endless beaches and outstanding waves. The camp caters to all skill levels and lessons include everything from surf theory to time out on the ocean. surfberbere.com
Wick’d Surf Camps, Ucluelet, B.C.
Try your hand at cold–water surfing in Canada’s surf capital on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Learn to ride waves or hone your existing skills at a multiday camp (daily lessons are also available). wickedsurfcamps.com