Surfing

Eric enjoys one of the top 5 surf spots at Costa Rica.

Top 5 surf spots at Costa Rica

We asked our friend Eric Atkinson, founder of Salty Sols Surf School, which were his top 5 surf spots at Costa Rica. This is what he wrote for us. Enjoy the waves.

1- Witch’s Rock

One of Costa Rica’s best beach breaks, if not the best!!! Beautful location, most people that are going to surf this spot will go by boat leaving from Playa Coco (about a 40 min boat ride) or from Playa Flamingo (about an hour and half boat ride).  Some people prefer to make the drive in from National Park Santa Rosa, which you will definitely need a 4×4 as the road is pretty gnarly to get all the way down, if driving in, you may want to bring a tent and some supplies to camp a night or so and surf as many barrels as you can possibly handle!

Upon arriving in boat you are already anxious enough as you have seen videos and heard stories of this amazing place, and if you are going when there is a decent swell in the water, you will really start to get pumped as you are flying in the boat over the open ocean swells and know that you are gonna score this place good! You see the big huge white rock that serves as your barrel heaven backdrop.

Witch’s Rock has several main peaks that work pretty well depending on swell direction and tides, it is a very consistent beach break that works with Swell direction from the South and North and lots of offshore winds hit this part of the coast. More often you will be surfing with good strong offshore winds, beautiful lefts and rights, surfing it with long period swell in the water expect some serious paddle outs and for the barrel hungry.

This place has big ones and plenty of them! And then if you want to surf one of Costa Rica’s juciest right hand point breaks, just go 20 minutes north by boat and, if the swell is decent and out of the South West, Ollie’s Point will put a smile on your face for days!!!

The nice thing about these spots if you go by boat is that Wtich’s Rock is usually surfed at higher tide and Ollie’s at the low tide. So it is a full day of surf and fun for everyone!

2- Nosara (Guiones)

Playa Guiones is another of the top 5 surf spots at Costa Rica. It has a  really consistent beach break that has a wave for everyone. It seems like it’s one of those places that people go and even if the conditions aren’t the best, they always have fun. This area is very pretty, the beach itself is about 7 kilometers long, with waves for every skill level, fun for shortboarders and longboarders alike. It can get busy here, but since there are so many peaks, you can usually pick a spot that is less crowded and just paddle out and always score some waves.

The winds aren’t as consistent here as they are a bit North of here, so usually the early morning hours and sunset sessions will be the most consistent, with light offshore or glassier conditions, although in the dry season this area can also see some hard offshore winds as well, and works ok with low tide and the high tide.

3- Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa and Mal País is another top 5 surf spots of Guanacaste. It is located in the Nicoya Peninsula. It host a number of good breaks, from juicy fat longboard waves, to fast hollow beach break, reef and points. Playa Carmen in Santa Teresa is a favorite amongs the intermediate surfer, longboarders and those who want an easier paddle out and not too strong of current with lots of fun waves, lefts and rights and a pretty consistently good sandbar. Further north up the beach, usually the heavier, faster and more hollow the waves become and usually surfing more at lower tide and incoming. There is some more easy going beach break and an offshore reef break in Manzanillo that is a bit fickle and needs lots of swell to work. Mal Pais has a couple of reefs that work nice with some decent swell, can be shallow in some areas.

4-Avellanas

Avellanas is one of those beaches that also offers a bit for everyone and every skill level. Situated in Northern Costa Rica, this is another beach blessed with alot of good strong offshore winds in the dry season, and works well with swell out of the south and the north.

Avellanas has a variety of waves. With some decent swell in the water you can see nice peeling lefts in front of the parking lot “La Purruja”, left hand reef break that isn’t always super consistent, but when breaking can be a really nice wave. Most people tend to surf out in front of Lola’s restaurant and a bit north of there at Palo Seco, here is beach break offering both lefts and rights and works best mid-high tide. These waves can be fast, fun punchy waves for the shortboarder, or just drop in, pick your line, cross step to the nose on your longboard and get those 10 little piggies over the tip and style your heart out!

Up the beach a bit more you have some nice wave that break in front of El Estero, some nice A frame peaks on it’s given day and at the very north end of the beach, with some decent swell in the water we have “Little Hawaii” This is a right reef break that works best with solid swell and can hold waves up to double over head or bigger, but boards with good volume work pretty well in this wave as it doesn’t tend to be real top to bottom, staying somewhat fat and juicy.

After all this surfing , sit back, relax in a hammock or the wood chairs in Lola’s, people and dog watch and sip a cold Pilsen and pat yourself on the back as you watch the beautiful Costa Rican Sunset!

5- Playa Negra

Pretty awesome right hand reef break, that can hand you one of the sweetest barrels or possibly one of the worst wipeouts you have experienced! Negra is a wave that when other beaches are closing out because the waves are too big, this beast just grows, getting scarier, but still holding and pumping out big hollow barrels.

Negra can be a fun playful wave that is chest to shoulder high or triple overhead and ferocious. So pick your days according to your level. Playa Negra is pretty much one takeoff zone, so 10 or more people in the water here can feel crowded, and is usually surfed by a pretty skilled bunch. best surfed chest high to a couple feet overhead from mid tide to high tide.

Salty Sols Surf School

Great surf lessons in Costa Rica

Salty Sols is the best place for surf lessons in Costa Rica

Eric Atkinson grew up in Missouri, USA, with no waves nearby but he traveled around the world looking for surf spots. He finally found his home here in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Now, he owns Salty Sols Surf School, surf lessons in Costa Rica. Eric loves surfing and teaching so he created Salty Sols to share his love for the ocean with all his students. You will enjoy his class because he speaks perfect English and almost perfect Spanish.  Mr. Atkinson also has three important “P” attributes: patience, perception and persuasion, really important for a good teacher.

We interviewed Eric and he told us some interesting stories about surf lessons in Costa Rica.

Tamarindo Vista Villas (TVV) : What is it that you like most about teaching how to surf?

Eric: Seeing people feel that “stoke” for the first time and enjoying the connection with the ocean. I can still remember my first wave/waves and the awesome feeling of riding for the first time. This brings me back to those days.

TVV: What is it that you like least about teaching how to surf?

Eric: If the waves are pumping and perfect and I’m pushing someone instead of being able to pull into a barrel myself !!!! That would be the only bad thing, and that’s not really bad. We get plenty of awesome days to surf. If the students happen to have one of “those” sessions in their lesson then that’s great for them.  Also, they usually are witnessing some amazing surfing from the experienced surfers at the same time.

There are days when the current can be strong and the water can be cold. But if you are coming from a cold water place, the water always feels like bath water here in Costa Rica. Sometimes it can be frustrating if there’s a ton of people in the water. Or if the conditions aren’t the best. But the number 1 thing I don’t like about being a surf instructor is when you step on a really gnarly thorn right before going in the water for the next 2 hours!!!

TVV: What are the main feelings your students get during the lessons?

Eric: I think first of all surprise. Most are surprised that within a short amount of time they are actually getting up and riding waves. So many have these feelings that they are going to be horrible or they aren’t skilled enough. Maybe a fear of the water. But after some party in the sand with the “pop up”, technique practice, and the instructor´s help in the water, before you know it, they are up and riding and smiling from ear to ear. So I think feelings are changing several times in the lesson. They go from fear or nervousness, to surprise and emotion, to stoked and super pumped that they are now getting wave after wave and ending with a feeling of self satisfaction.

TVV: What is the main thing somebody needs to know before taking  surf lessons in Costa Rica?

Eric: Nothing! Really, no need to know much, just know how to relax and have fun. Maybe that it could be something that changes their life forever…If they live in landlocked Missouri, they might end up moving to Costa Rica!

TVV: Is there any advice you want to give for someone who wants to learn to surf?

Eric: Be confident that with some patience and practice you WILL be surfing! And never take it too seriously, surfing is all about having fun, it is about being a kid again!

surf lessons in Costa Rica
Eric Atkinson surfs with one of his dogs.
Surf lessons in Costa Rica
One of Salty Sols´ students riding a wave.

Typical Food In Tamarindo Costa Rica

Some of the type of restaurants in Tamarindo vary from Typical Costa Rican food to downright genius combinations of peanut butter hamburgers.
There are some great restaurants in Tamarindo. From casados to Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches, you will be able to find a fantastic variety of flavors to choose from.

What Is Some Typical Food In Tamarindo?

Ever sit down to some typical food in Tamarindo, Costa Rica? Well, if so, chances are it was a casado. But did you ever stop to wonder just why the there’s a piece of meat with the rice and beans, salad and other accruements? After all, who could have thought to put together beef, chicken, fish, or pork with some rice, beans, and a salad, generally made with cabbage? Consequently, in its simplest form—before adding optional cheese, plantains or even French fries—the Casado is a well-balanced mix of protein, fats, carbohydrates and vegetables.

In Costa Rica, we eat this meal so much that we take its origin for granted, assuming that it’s always been served like this.

Yet, there is indeed a tale to be told about this typical dish. The word Casado means married man. So one could look at this delicious plate of food and think, “Hmm, all these various components are married to each other.”

Yet, the story behind the Casado is a little deeper than that. Looking back on Costa Rica’s history in the last century, men worked in the fields, banana plantations, or as cowboys and fisherman. Those who were married would show up for the job with a full complement of food, while the single men’s lunches were skimpier.

In the ‘60s, those who were employed in the capital of San Jose would stop for lunch at sodas (small Costa Rican restaurants) and ask for a big plate of food, such as that they would get at home.

Both these concepts took off, and now you’d be hard-pressed to find any town in Costa Rica that does not have at least one restaurant serving a Casado.

 

A Great Hotel Experience

 

Some hotels have great installations, others have great hospitality. Make sure you know which is more important to you when reserving a hotel.
Great experiences are made when a great hotel offers great hospitality. Check out some of Tamarindo’s great review sites to find out which hotels are the best before reserving.

What Makes A Great Hotel Experience?

So, having been working in a hotel in Tamarindo for some time now, I have often found myself trying to figure out just why many great hotels receive only mediocre reviews, while small dinky hotels seems to get outstanding ratings. I find that the phenomenon can be attributed to the major difference between a great hotel and great hospitality. To me, a great hotel means that the cement, steel, and paint installations are tastefully assembled into a great physical location. While this is a wonderful, and quite expensive, installation, it serves absolutely no purpose unless you staff it with passionate, and friendly individuals. This is great hospitality! Beautiful hotels are actually not too difficult to find in today’s booming travel market, however, truly spectacular hospitality is rare.

For example, here in Tamarindo we have several large hotels that actually have a lot of great characteristics, coupled with stunning buildings, and just steps away from the surf in Tamarindo, however the actual the hotels’ service levels are outright terrible. If you go onto trip advisor and read their reviews, you can find some truly horrific stories about managerial negligence and employees who simply are not passionate about what they do. Quite obviously, if you were to walk into a hotel bar and ask for a Margarita, then pay and not have your change offered to you, you are experiencing some terrible hospitality. This experience will most certainly change your opinion and your overall feeling in the hotel. Now, the hotel might be beautifully laid out, with exquisite architecture, but what does it all mean if you cannot get over the terrible service?

Contrary to the previous example there are a couple of small and simple hotels in Tamarindo, which have much less of a beautiful campus, but boast a spectacular level of hospitality. A level of hospitality in which each team-member do their absolute best to try and make a guest’s stay unbelievable. This is the difference between a mediocre guest experience and a life-long friendship. The hospitality is actually a factor of managerial philosophy. You see, many hotels do not have a passionate leader in place and focus all too often on the bottom line. In doing so, they overlook the most important asset of any business: its employees. Without a doubt, a hotel with a properly motivated team will always provide a higher quality experience for guests than a hotel with “meat-grinder” human resources strategy in which employees are contracted and liquidated every three months just in order to reinforce the busy season.

So, where does this take us? Well, some of the best operations are ones that establish a clean goal of offering a great guest experience, with equal compromise from the owners down to the housekeeper. When making a decision as to where to stay in Tamarindo, remember to always try and gauge whether you are looking for a great hotel or simply great hospitality.

Free Beach Equipment in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Free Beach Equipment At the Best Western Tamarindo Hotel Vista Villas

Learn to surf using our free board rentals and beach equipment!
Its time to smile! We are the only hotel in Tamarindo offering free beach equipment such as surfboards, boogie boards, stand up paddle boards, snorkeling equipment, volleyballs, and kayaks.

I would like to share with you a story about how our free beach equipment program was born in our little Tamarindo hotel. It was february. A time for the dreadded Best Western annual sales seminar – a week filled of horror stories shared between hotel sales managers and their former bosses, now known as lecturers. The most notorious of which was a tall, bald headed french man with a rather peculiar accent formed by having been raised on tacos, croissants, and bagels. Although his knowledge of the material to be presented was unbelievably robust, his attitude was always one of apathy. It was obvious he had not been to the beach since the Reagan administration and was simply biding his time waiting for a desk job in the Best Western corporate headquarters. I’m pretty sure that if I ever ended up like that fellow I would hope someone would put me out of my misery and hit me over the head with a surfboard. In Tamarindo, Costa Rica you wont find too many of the suit and tie every day profile.

Anyways, the lecture began with an introduction in this man’s frenchamerimex accent. Culminating with a few words that would forever change the face of this hotel in Tamarindo.

“Zee blu waateer strataugy” roughly translated as “the blue water strategy”. He exclaimed this it is a strategy in which business chooses a strategy to set itself apart from other competitors. The reason they call it the blue water strategy is to liken businesses to sailboats in a race. Of course the winning sailboat always has open blue water ahead of it, hence the name. Its not a bad metaphor and most certainly has its merits, however, the problem about listening to 8 hours of ocean metaphors is that a someone with sand in their blood tends to start day-dreaming.

Surfing a small roller, diving into the sea while snorkeling with thousands of little fish darting around me, paddle boarding around in the blue waters. Ohhh, those warm, pacific, rolling waves, hot white sand and palm trees. Hey! I think I need to buy some sunscreen tomorrow. I’m actually a little hungry, how great would a fresh ceviche……

“Tamarindo Vista Villas, are you here with us?” Screeched Mr. Shiny head, his breath smelling like a tarragon smoked salmon, wrapped in a tortilla.

“Huh? What? Yea, yea I’m here. You just had me thinking about the beach. How I really wanna go to the beach right now. I mean, don’t you?”

Mr. Potato Head looked disgusted.

“C’mon, I bet every single person here would rather be at the beach right now. I mean, that’s what we live for, right? Those unforgettable days playing around in the sand? Maybe snorkeling around aimlessly, or walking for hours in the warm sand.”

At this point, I could see sparkles in the eyes of everyone at the conference, well with the exception of Mr. Carnitas’ droopy gumdrop ocular cavities.

Inspired by the crowds reaction the idea hit me like a salty white water breaker, “I want to share this beach with everyone. What if we gave away free beach equipment like surfboards, boogie boards, snorkeling equipment, ice chests, beach towels, kayaks, volleyballs, frisbees, and footballs to our guests. What if every person who came could enjoy the beach to its most excellent potential?”

The epiphany now rising like a high tide, filling the cracks and crevasses of mangroves, filling estuaries, covering the reef breaks, producing hollow barrels. An unstoppable force of nature that overcomes anything in its path!

The crowd cheered, laptops were thrown into the air, one hotel manager bit right through his pencil in a bout of joy.

The ground shaking, impacting, insightful, well balanced, it was perfect.

Of course, having seen it all, Mr. “wine, cheese, and sopá” took a deep breath dismissing the celebration as an overreaction of the frivolous managers not ever having been exposed to real world of the central office, “veeerrry waaal. Okeeee.”

“Whuuu can telllla maaee, enowa strataugy?”

What? Is he not here? Did he not just witness the madness? The emotion? The excitement? Or did he worry that we were running behind schedule?  Anyways, it didn’t matter… I get to go home to the beach in 12 hours and get the free beach equipment program off the ground! Here is a list of the free equipment.

We most certainly hope you enjoy!

Win a Free All-Inclusive Weekend With Us

Just a quick note about a competition we are hosting. At breakfast one morning, while sipping a cup of delicious Costa Rican Coffee overlooking the beautiful waters of Tamarindo Bay, a pair of our guests began to speak about paradise. Well, of course we know a little about this, with our warm waters, genuine people, white sand, and the best darn coffee in the world, but we figured we would like to know what other people consider paradise. So, the “Paradise Is” competition was born!

We want to know what people around the world consider paradise, and we aren’t just talking about beaches… We really want to delve deep into the mindset of the world. Feelings, emotions, activities, everything! We want to know about the greatest and the finest pleasures. The winning quote should inspire the rest of the world to take a vacation to find their own paradise.

Please feel free to check out our facebook post below in order to participate. Cheers and thank you!

Tell us what your paradise is in the comments and win a free all-inclusive weekend!Diganos que seria su paraiso y gana un fin de semana todo incluido gratis!

Posted by Best Western Tamarindo Vista Villas on Friday, February 5, 2016

Tamarindo Surf Camp – Adrenaline Rush

Just a few of the surfboards you can use while learning to surf in Tamarindo.
Just a few of the surfboards you can use while learning to surf in Tamarindo.

Whether you head for that duck dive or do a hang ten while smiling for that perfect profile shot or simply long to popup on your surfboard for the first-time ever, there something waiting at the Tamarindo Vista Villas Tamarindo Surf School to satiate your thirst for the perfect wave, the perfect cutback or the best fade. Nestled in the hills of Costa Rican charm lies one of the best surfing destination of the world. A “surfing Mecca” to many avid surfers, Tamarindo boasts a widely diversified surfing experience—from beginners to experts—as well as a rejuvenating vacation rolled into one. Right at the hotel, Eric Atkinson of Salty Sols has one of the best Tamarindo Surf Camp and surf schools. You can choose to surf in the morning, do yoga in the afternoon, take a canopy zipline tour and partake in a bustling nightlife, whatever the mind can conceive, this place is sure to give. There is, indeed, something special about the Tamarindo Vista Villas Surf Camp and Surf School right here in one of the most sought after surfing vacation destinations in the world. To get to know about this, here are some of the top reasons why.

Amazing Surf in Tamarindo

Imagine waking up to a glorious sunrise, gentle sea breeze and a panoramic vista of the Pacific Ocean right from the balcony of your Tamarindo Vista Villas room or suite. Check out the surf and make your way down to the water or head out to any one of the nearby breaks. For beginners, Tamarindo is the perfect place to learn to surf, as the enclosed bay which means gentle waves and plenty of whitewater to have your first session with Eric from Salty Sols. In addition, Tamarindo is fortunate to be located close by at least four spectacular surf breaks for the intermediate or advanced surfer to explore: Langosta, Grande, Avellanas and Negra. Our expert at Salty Sols can offer you transportation to any of these. Back at Tamarindo Vista Villas, after a day of adrenalin pumping surfing, catch one of our famous sunsets on your patio, and wait out the moon which reflects off the water. Think about the swell coming the next day, and getting back in the ocean, where you’ll rip and snap in one of the most popular sports in the world.

Professional Surf Instructors

What makes Salty Sols and its primary surf instructor Eric Atkinson your best choice for an instructor or guide? “I want people to have an experience, not just a surf lesson, where it’s not simply 1,2,3 popup,” explains Eric. “I want the experience to be highly awesome and personalized, to impart the stoke of surfing, so my students will continue doing it. I want my clients to feel that they made a friend with Salty Sols Surf School.” Lessons begin on the sand, where you will learn surfing theory, water safety and other tips to make your ocean experience fun and additive. Eric himself grew up in landlocked Missouri, so he can definitely relate to first-time surfers, or those that don’t get to surf as often as they’d like. He learned his craft in Hawaii, where his roommates—Oceanographers—conveyed a knowledge of the sea that Eric continues to pass onto his students today. His passion for surfing is compounded from his background in baseball, and an inherent knowledge that one day he’d end up being a coach. His own great coaches, both in baseball and surfing, inspired a lot of the tips that his clients learn today. His primary advice: Have fun and relax in the water and put aside all your stress and you’ll ride, ride, ride.

 

Tamarindo Surf Camp Safety

Salty Sols, Eric and its surf instructors guarantee that this Tamarindo surf camp and surf school practices safety at its best. No one is going to send you off and simply yell “paddle” or “pop up.” Instructors make sure that you get enough know-how on how to handle yourself and your board while finding an area where the best tides are located. With at most three surfer enthusiasts per instructor, the Tamarindo Vista Villas surfing experience redefines personalized attention. Here are the 6 primary water safety rules that Eric teaches: 1) Never put the board between you and the ocean waves 2) Give everyone space in the water 3) Always cover your head when coming up from underwater 4) Learn the different tides, currents, swells and riptides at different peaks 5) In the beginning, when you surf, make sure there are other people around and 6) Always have fun.

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Finding us on the Internet

You can find us on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and most major social media sites where we have some very cool content. Just type in “Tamarindo Vista Villas hotel”. Watch out for misspellings while doing Google searches, you will never get the best results with a missing letter or a bound together word set. Common misspellings include Cost Rica, Coast Rica, Coasta Rica, tamarind hotel and more. But you will still be able to find us for these terms considering they are in this page.

Indeed, when it comes to a Tamarindo surf camp experience, enjoying the wonder-rific view of the ocean has never been this exciting and fulfilling smack right at the hilltop oasis of Tamarindo Vista Villas.

Good Luck and we look forward to seeing you at our beautiful Tamarindo hotel.