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Surf Tripping in Costa Rica

Surf Tripping in Costa Rica

We caught up with UK surfer Frankie Pioli, who recently travelled to Costa Rica for some much-needed surf and sunshine. Here’s what Frankie got up to:

Name: Frankie Pioli
Age: 26
Location: I recently moved to Chamonix following a winter season and have now fallen in love with France. I do however miss the surfing a fair bit, hence the long surf holidays as opposed to being the weekend warrior and dawnie queen I once was when lived in Wales.
Occupation: I work as a physiotherapist, so I get to see a lot of sporting injuries living in the alps and through surfing. I also do a lot of pilates based rehab which I love. I hope to combine my surfing passion and career in physiotherapy more in the future.
My Instagram: @surfpioli
What made you want to head out to Costa Rica?
I have always wanted to go to Costa Rica, ever since I started surfing. The wildlife, great beach breaks and the idea of camping on the beach in hammocks appealed to me. I never actually went however as I was always being put off by stories of it being over touristy, expensive and a little Americanised. I decided to go to Costa Rica this time as I was looking for good surf locations in May; from what I have read, May is the start of the excellent swell season and the changeover between the dry season and the wet season, so I thought this might be a good time to go. Having just finished a winter in the Alps, all I wanted was to be able to surf every day… but nothing too heavy to get back into the swing of it, and get some vitamin D at the same time. Pacific coast Costa Rica sounded perfect.
Where did you stay, surf, explore?
We stayed in Dominical for the first few days; we surfed every day, 3x a day, it was epic! But then we wanted a change of scene so headed to Cabo Metapalo. It is so beautiful here, crazy rocky dirt track roads in a jungle to get to all the breaks, it’s quite an adventure and so stunning. A lot less touristy too. The surf was a little more tide dependant, meaning we didn’t get as much surfing in here, so headed ever further into the jungle. We headed to Carate, a tiny village in the south, made up of only a couple of guest houses based for the people travelling into the national park. There isn’t a surf scene here; actually, we didn’t see a single surfer in the four days we spent there. We had 8 or so km of beach breaks to ourselves! It was amazing! We headed back to Dominical after that for the last few days of our trip for some civilisation, good food and some more playful waves.
Would you recommend heading out there for a surf trip?
Most definitely! It was beautiful. We were mainly based south of San José on the Pacific coast, so I can’t comment on the rest of the island. The surf was excellent fun, with playful beach breaks and warm water. There are so many surfing setups along the coastline, you can pretty much surf anywhere, so crowds are not an issue if you are willing to explore a little. There is so much to do as well, even when you aren’t surfing; loads of wildlife, jungle hikes, waterfalls, riding, etc.! It wasn’t as cheap as I thought it might have been, but I am glad I went.  I think if I go back that way again, having had a little intro into Central America, I will head to Nicaragua, El Salvador or Panama instead, for a new little adventure along the Pacific coast.
Who did you travel with?
I travelled there with my boyfriend. It was pretty cool, he had been showing me the ropes all winter in the mountains, so it was my turn to do the same in the surf. No pressure ha. He is a beginner/intermediate surfer, so we found Costa Rica was perfect for us both. I think we both struggled on some of the paddle outs on the more significant days though. It was such a fantastic trip.
What’s the culture like in Costa Rica?
Pura Vida. It seems to be what everyone was saying. Very friendly chilled out locals. I actually read in the airport on the way back that Costa Rica has no army, this may explain why? The food seemed to be a mix of Mexican, Caribbean, American, and Spanish.
Your favourite thing about Costa Rica?
All of it!

Talk about the highs and lows of the trip?
Lows: I can’t think of any… oh, I did get poorly actually. I think this may have been because I surfed the morning after a really heavy rain storm, next to a river. I had a poorly tum for a few days which wasn’t so fun. I think the underlying constant fear of crocodiles didn’t bode well with me either.
Highs: I can think of loads. These are at the top though! Discovering Carate was pretty epic! Huge beach to ourselves and sleeping in the jungle was incredible. Horse riding on the beach in Carate, and being allowed to gallop off was pretty epic.
My most memorable wave of the trip. Paddling out after a short rain storm one evening, it was super eerie. Perfect conditions; no wind, pumping 5ft swell, dredging low tide barrels in Dominical, and just another two friendly locals in the water. I paddled in, took off so steep, I could feel my tail slide down then find grip, I felt solid, I spotted where I wanted to be, then it just threw over me, I was ejected out the other end with a massive grin on my face. Such a great barrel.

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