Day 1 in Costa Rica: Crocodiles and Secret Spot A-Frames
Our first day, we stayed at an Airbnb 20 minutes away from the airport because we had a late night arrival time. The next morning we had the owner’s complimentary breakfast which was good…very good; avocado, gallo pinto, tomato, plantains, a side of fruit, and a tortilla.
Right after breakfast, we spent the rest of the morning checking the maps and reports to find the most promising first surf destination. We found that Tamarindo was reported at 5-7ft with a dropping tide. The report stated that Tamarindo breaks the best with a mid-high tide, so we packed our gear and headed out to make sure we wouldn’t miss the prime conditions.
After driving an hour and forty minutes, we finally arrived to the town of Tamarindo, which was populated with local shops, restaurants, and tourists. As we were driving through the town, we could see the water just behind the restaurants along the beach so we followed the break and found a spot to park. We walked about 100 meters to see that the waves looked drained out, soft, and just around waist-high. We tried walking up and down the beach to see if we could eye out any other possible breaks to work with, but had no luck.
We decided that since we had already driven an hour and half and the heat was scorching our brains, we went back to the car to get the boards. While we were getting ready the parking security guard, Carlos, was telling his life story about how he was born in El Salvador, moved to Fresno with his family, and unfortunately got deported back. He left El Salvador because he almost got mixed up in the gangs over there. So he left for Costa Rica and arrived in Tamarindo just five days before we did.
It was pretty interesting listening to his story, but sad at the same time. He saw that we were getting ready to surf and told us about his first surfing experience a couple days prior. He had a near death experience because his legs cramped up and he blacked out after wiping out on a set wave. He also mentioned that he had heard stories of people seeing crocodiles at the river mouth (which is right where we paddled out) and how families had lost their dogs because they would unknowingly let their dog off leash to later experience the most mortifying occurrence of their life, watching their dog get dragged down by a croc.
Carlos said it would be fine because he hadn’t seen any crocodiles since he’d been here, so we felt a little at ease. Looking back, I realize that his word wasn’t really promising because he had only been in Costa Rica for less than a week. We finally paddle out and it was choppy, small, weak, and slow. The only thing that made the session worth it was the 86° Fahrenheit water.
After surfing for about an hour, we decided to head back to the beach and grab a drink before heading to the car. We dried off, gave Carlos a pb&j, and got a drink at a restaurant overlooking the beach. We were looking at the maps for fun and saw a point called Langosta, that looked like it could be something. After finishing a very strong mai tai we thought, “why not” since it was only 5 miles south.
The map took us to the trailhead of a beach resort. We followed the trial through some trees and found a long stretch of rock reef and beach, but it was breaking right out front. We walked a couple meters south and saw a handful of surfers at this fun-looking A-frame, almost novelty-esc that was sitting across another river mouth. We paddled out into the lineup and saw that all the surfers were a bunch of local groms, so right away we figured this non-touristy spot should be good.
After taking the first wave it felt like sweet redemption from the first session. The right was fast and steep, while the left just a sloppy closeout. We surfed this fun peak for an hour and half until our arms gave out. It was time to check in to our next stay, which was an Airbnb in Los Pargos, just a 5-minute drive to the well-known Playa Negra.
After driving over an hour and a half of very under-developed, bumpy roads, we arrived at our place late in the afternoon, but still had enough light to check out the beach to scope out the spot. As soon as we walked to the sand, we could see the golden hour light hitting this fun right hander in front of us. We didn’t even think about paddling out because we were so exhausted from the first two sessions, but we knew that we had fun in store for the next couple days.