Interview with Travis Bays, owner of Bodhi Surf School
A Conversation with Envision Festival Founder Stephen Brooks
Living in Costa Rica full time does have its perks. Dawn patrolling with head high or better surf daily on a empty tropical beach, fruit smoothies made from the freshest bananas, papayas, and pinas, and neighbors that wave and smile when you pass by. But a surprise perk was when one of the group organizers, Mark Salvetti, invited me up to Jaco to check out what they offered their guests, and to surf with them of course.
Driving to Jaco
So I drive my truck north Thursday morning and met up first with Carton Villalobos of Carton Surfboards, who had kept one of his boards for me while I was in the U.S. We ended up hanging out most of the day, playing guitar, talking about local surfing issues, women, and our futures, with our eyes searching the rainforest just across the road, looking for white faced monkeys. When he closed up shop, we sat out front enjoying Pilsens and had dinner at Restaurante Ibiza in town.
This worked out great because Mark and his surf camp guests were eating dinner up in the mountains and I arrived at Vista Guapa just after they returned. The ‘camp’ is actually a very well built kitchen/board storage area/dining room/common area, along with six spacious designer rooms in three more buildings up the hill, giving them a panoramic view of the town of Jaco. On the property was also a pool and yoga platform. The owner, Alex Fieglein, met me at the gate so the security guard knew I was a guest. He had a comfortable room set up for me and I crashed hard.
The next morning I met up with Mark and the surf camp guests at the beach on the south end of Jaco. This is stretch of beach best for beginners because there is a rocky point at the south end of town that blocks the bigger swells. The sandy part of the beach is also very wide which means that at higher tides the waves break evenly, making for a smoother ride for those learning to surf. This day the waves were 1-2 feet, waist high mostly with a few chest high sets, and the beginners were easily standing up on the reforms coming in. Mark was out on his SUP, and there were a mix of longboarders and shortboarders in the lineup. In the shore break the beginners were being helped into waves and cheered on by a pair of expert instructors. One of them, Anthony Flores, was the longboarding national champion.
We surfed until around 9:30 a.m. when the tide was starting to drop out. On the beach the camp guests were all smiles, talking about the waves they rode and filling me in on the adventures they had in their first part of their trip with Vista Guapa to Santa Teresa, which is near the southern tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. Their ride was a tricked out Mercedes van with enough space for twelve surfers, roof racks prepped to pile up a dozen boards, and a shower attachment.
The kitchen was open when we got back to the camp. Coffee, bread to toast, fruit, and granola were already set up for us. Then we could choose from omelets, pancakes, eggs with whatever sides we desired, or French toast. We sat around a huge round table made from a giant tree trunk and I got to know the guests a little better. This was a group from New Orleans who did a lot of stand up paddleboarding (Vista Guapa is sponsored by YOLO paddleboards) on the rivers and bayous of Louisiana. Some of them also surfed on short or longboards, and Mark planned a trip for them that went to beaches with waves for all surfing levels. This was their last day of the trip, a day to relax, go into town to buy some souvenirs for friends and family, and then enjoy a sunset cerveza at the Backyard Bar in Playa Hermosa.
Surf Contest and Departure
On most Fridays the Backyard has a Masters Series surf contest that starts at 4 p.m. Guests can sit on their back deck and beachfront lawn and enjoy the surfing exhibition. When I rejoined the group just before dark they were cheering on one of their friends, Alexis, who entered the competition. We watched him and all the contestants pull some impressive maneuvers in some overhead surf, and sat on the beach until only the light of the moon reflected on the ocean.
I had to meet some friends at a Ceviche Festival that evening (another perk of living in Costa Rica) so I said my goodbyes and wished them a safe trip back to the U.S. They luckily didn’t have to worry about driving since Vista Guapa covers all transportation for their guests. And since they have such a large inventory of SUPs and longboards, they didn’t have to worry about packing or dragging boardbags through the airport or the associated fees and aggravation of a missing/broken board.
Mark and Alex were excellent hosts and I could see that the groups they organize to come down are having an amazing time. I believe that any group of friends that want to enjoy the best of Costa Rica in a safe, affordable, and comfortable way can find it at Vista Guapa Surf Camp. It doesn’t matter if you never stood on a board or you have been surfing your entire life, they know how to maximize your experience in the water and on land. Contact us to get started on your Costa Rica adventure.
Benefits of booking a trip with Vista Guapa Surf Camp:
* Comfortable rooms and transportation
* Certified and friendly surf instructors
* Delicious Food
* Safe property with great views of town and the rainforest
* Customizable to meet your interests (SUP, Yoga, Tow-in)