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Safari Surf School and Olas Verdes Hotel Earn “Sustainable” Designation From STOKE Certified

Contact: Carl Kish |

 The first surf school to be STOKE Certified and the first hotel in Central America to be STOKE Certified do so under one roof in the rustic surf and yoga destination that is Playa Guiones, Costa Rica.

In February, the surf school and hotel were both assessed by local independent evaluator and Co-Director of the Costas Verdes reforestation nonprofit, Gerardo Bolaños. Safari Surf School achieved a compliance score of 81% against the STOKE Surf Operators standard and Olas Verdes scored 84% against the STOKE Surf Accommodations standard, which each earned them certification at the Sustainable level.

Tim Marsh, CEO of Safari Surf School (est. 1999), has been patiently awaiting this moment, “We were one of the first members to join STOKE at our old hotel in 2012, and were close to certification when majority owners of the property changed hands in 2013. At that point, I set out to create a more sustainable HQ so I brought together like-minded partners to build the ideal surfhotel. A few years later, Olas Verdes opened its doors and we transitioned our management practices to this state-of-the-art sustainable hotel so we could be the first STOKE Certified surfschool and to my knowledge, the world’s first surf school program to be certified sustainable. Today, Safari Surf is honored to hold this prestigious title and I’m forever grateful to my amazing partners and staff for their hard work and dedication to making this dream come true!”

Olas Verdes offers 17 suites across five buildings, each representing a different region of Costa Rica featuring distinct color palettes and authentic decor from local artisans in their respective province. From an aerial view, the lots follow the geographic points of a map of Costa Rica in a clockwise pattern. The GM and interior designers personally traveled to different regions of the country to buy the decor and handicrafts directly from the artisans to prevent exploitation from middlemen.

In addition to being housed in the first LEED Platinum hotel in Central America—awarded for its sustainable design and construction features with rooftop solar PV and hot water, recycled greywater drip irrigation, native landscaping, rainwater storage, integrated tree architecture, upcycled glass mosaics, and much more—Safari Surf and Olas Verdes have evolved into a complementary sustainability management duo. They collaborate on beach cleanups and reporting for the Blue Flag program, hosting national ISA instructor training, volunteering for coastal reforestation with BarriGuiones, tracking and offsetting carbon emissions with national Fonafifo reforestation projects, averaging close to 80% waste diversion with the Nosara Recycling Center and composting at local farms, and they organize Pack for a Purpose donations with guests to separate schools in the area to double their impact.

While supporting widespread relief efforts after Tropical Storm Nate devastated homes and businesses near the Nosara River last October, Olas Verdes and Safari Surf assessed the damage and decided to donate 4% of the hotel’s sales for October, November, and December as well as raise over $10,000 via GoFundMe to rebuild their employee’s homes that were swept away or destroyed in the flooding.

“The allocation of funds and restoration projects were managed and democratized by staff across the surf school, hotel, and El Manglar restaurant, which is a testament to the camaraderie our employees share. It’s like one big family here,” added Luis Pardo, General Manager of Olas Verdes. “All of the staff are local and take great pride in their culture as well as the culture of sustainability and community we have built here together, which has been a seamless fit with the STOKE program. The level of support from the owners at Safari Surf and Olas Verdes is unlike anything I’ve ever seen—especially in the case of El Manglar.”

Rather than hire someone to manage their restaurant, the owners helped two women from Nosara, Alicia (waitress and bartender) and Maritza (chef), form their own business as a microfinance initiative. Although the two long-time employees had never owned a restaurant, they ran with it and made it their own—first by creating an identity, El Manglar, which represents the mangroves in the wildlife refuge just steps away from the hotel. After arranging their kitchen with energy-efficient appliances and learning how to properly sort their waste, recyclables, and compostables, the next step was to infuse local culture into the dining experience. The owners covered tuition for advanced hospitality, business management, and culinary courses specifically for Costa Rican cuisine. El Manglar has since focused on sourcing from the local organic farm as much as possible through curated menu creation centered around "Tico" dishes and has run a successful and responsible restaurant for over two years now.

“It has been a lot of hard work since before they even broke ground nearly five years ago,” said STOKE Certified Co-Founder, Carl Kish. “The story of Safari Surf and Olas Verdes and their partnership represents the poster child of what STOKE embodies in terms of integrating sustainability from the ground up and beyond. The owners prioritized the local community and environment from day one and I'm extremely grateful they entrusted STOKE to fulfill their vision from development to operations. It has been nothing short of remarkable to watch their teams put what we’ve preached into practice and make it their own.”

Surfers everywhere now have another sustainable destination to consider when planning their next surf trip. Whether you want to bring a board to Olas Verdes, choose from one of Safari Surf’s rental quiver of Firewire TimberTek eco-boards, or learn to surf with veteran local instructors, Playa Guiones and the surrounding breaks have everything to offer from beginners to seasoned surf travelers.

For a detailed list of their best practices with photographs, please visit their respective STOKE Certified profiles at and or visit book your next sustainable surf trip to Costa Rica.






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