Once I arrived in Playa Negra I had to find a place to stay.
At first glance, there didn’t seem to be much in town. A few restaurants, a few hotels, a soccer field, and one little store.
The roads were dirt, like so many beach towns in Costa Rica. It looked like all the budget places to stay at were in the $30 range. This is a little more than what I wanted to spend, so I decided to walk down the road a little to check a place that I had seen on the internet, Kon Tiki.
After a 10 minute walk, I arrived at the funky little pizzeria/hotel. The gate was locked and there was no response from inside. I decided to chill for a minute, not sure if it was closed or if everyone was just busy. After a few minutes had passed, a well-used little red truck pulled up. It was one of the owners and an employee. It turned out that because of the drought in Guanacaste, they weren’t accepting many guests. However, they said that they would make up a bed for me and I could stay a few nights.
It was the cheapest place in Playa Negra but it had the best vibe! Everything was made from rickety wood, and had a minimalist feel to it. It was exactly the kind of place that a budget traveling surfer would like. The only downfall was that it was about a 15 minute walk to the break, which isn’t a long way until the sun comes out and the temperatures skyrocket.
For the next couple days I hung out at the surf break and at Kon Tiki. There was supposed to be a swell, but I guess it was too far south and was barely missing Playa Negra. I was planning on spending the rest of my trip in Playa Negra but without good surf I started looking for another place to go.
My friend Rey contacted me and said that I could come hang out in San Jose for the remainder of my trip and we could surf around Jaco and Playa Hermosa. I figured it wasn’t a bad idea so I quickly packed up my gear and started the journey to San Jose an hour later.
Because it was such a last minute decision, I was stuck with a less than optimal bus schedule. The first bus took me to Santa Cruz, where I had a 4 hour wait until the second bus to San Jose. Luckily, while waiting at the bus station, I met a German girl also going to San Jose.
We ended up getting some beers and playing cards while we waited. It is awesome how when you travel alone you will meet so many people. Sometimes it’s just a short lived experience, but it is always fun! The next 4 nights were spent at Rey’s house. We were able to go on two little surf trips in between his classes. The first one we went to was a point break only accessible by boat. We got a few friends together to help split the cost of the boat and left San Jose at 4am. When we arrived, the tide was high and there was a pretty strong side shore wind. It was just my luck, another epic break that wasn’t going to break for me... Luckily, the tide dropped and the wind died a little to give us about an hour of mediocre waves. Then the tide dropped so low that we were over only about knee deep water. We called it a day and waited on a beautiful nearby beach for our boat.
Rey decided to bail on his class the next day so that we could try and find some good surf. We again got up early and headed to the beach. Playa Hermosa is known for its beach break barrels. When we arrived, it was completely walled out. We tried to surf, but it just wasn’t happening. Rey said that he knew another secret spot, but it probably wouldn’t be breaking. It was on our way back to San Jose, so we decided to stop by to see how it was.
We turned onto a dirt road and after about 10 minutes I caught a first glimpse of the ocean. It was flat. But we then turned onto a super gnarly 4x4 road. We climbed up a little hill and once on top we were both surprised at what we saw. An absolutely beautiful left handed point break. Quickly, we grabbed our boards and paddled out. The tide was dropping and there was a 25km offshore wind, so the waves were a little weak. We both could have used slightly larger boards, but were both able to catch a few fun waves. As the tide dropped, a few cleanup sets came though and broke well outside of the point. We decided that we were satisfied with the waves we got, and decided to head back to San Jose.
Still having some time left in San Jose before my flight, Rey took me to an awesome volcano, a creepy historic hospital and a car race. It was fun to see the nicer part of San Jose. Like every city, there are good and bad parts. I still would not recommend spending any time in San Jose if you can help it.
That pretty much sums up my Costa Rica experience. I met tons of great people, explored new parts of the country and caught a few waves. Through the hospitality of Rey, I started and ended my trip in the best way possible. Now I am off to catch some epic swell in San Diego and then Hawaii for 10 days!