Costa Rica or another US state?

I can't lie and say that we have entirely enjoyed Costa Rica. The surf lineup is full of crowds, and it is low season, living costs are expensive, and the locals earn chips. Last, of all, we have the feeling that Americans and other fellow ex-pats have mined the backbone out of culture here.

We reached Pavones after a sad goodbye to Punta Burica and found some accommodation. This stay was a treat, private bathroom, wifi Internet and a comfy double bed. We have just spent the last two weeks camping with no power, no people and a four hour round trip to the closest supermarket.

The photo doesn't do the crowd justice at Pavones

We could only handle two nights at Pavones. We saw the potential of the wave, but as there were fifty people in the water at last count and no waves, we had to leave and found ourselves on the road to Matapalo.

We reached Matapalo and set up camp while a roaring thunder and lightning storm moved overhead. We missed the afternoon surf as we arrived too late. We ate an early dinner and snuggled up in the tent listening to the storm around us. I went to bed with an impending earache, which kept me awake for a lot of the night, and when it came time to open the tent flyer, the earache had grown into an ear infection. We travelled to the doctor who prescribed me antibiotics and painkillers with notice, staying out of water for a while.

Bronnie after a surf at Dominical in Costa Rica

Our next stop was Dominical, where we found a place we could set up a tent undercover with power to run a fan, kitchen, wifi and toilets and showers. We stayed here for four nights until my ear didn't feel like a grapefruit protruding from my head. Bronnie scored some good surf here.

The next stop is Playa Hermosa next to Jaco, a severe wave that is hollow, breaks relatively shallow and is known to snap boards from the lip. This wave was firing, but unfortunately or fortunately, I wasn't able to paddle out.

Ollie surfing a small wave at Dominical in Costa Rica

We arranged to stay with Shawn and Shena at Rio Piedras in Arenal. They have a beautiful property and house looking over Lake Arenal, Costa Rica's largest lake. We enjoyed our time here with the climate being perfect, not too hot and not too cold.

We ventured onto the lake a couple of times with Shaun, Shena and Reina, their little girl. On one of these trips, Reina and I caught our first fish each. We were able to lap up hours on this lake while enjoying the comforts of Shaun and Shena's boat. We swam, drank beer, fished and walked around some islands looking for relics.

Shawn and Shena's view at Rio Piedras in Costa Rica

Bronnie and I drove to the hot springs close to the speccy Arenal Volcano and lazed around for a few hours before returning to Rio Piedras.

We were only staying a couple of nights at Shaun and Shena's, but this easily turned into four nights. My ear was feeling a lot better, and I had already spent ten days out of the surf and was feeling eager to catch some more waves.

Ollie with a fish that didn't get away at Laguna de Arenal in Costa Rica

We decided to drive towards Tamarindo and work our way south down the Nicoya Peninsula. We plan to pick Bronnie's dad Dave up from the airport on the fourth of July.

Our first stop is Playa Grande. We scored some mushy waves here and moved on. Still, unfortunately, our alternator packed it in and left us with no choice but to limp Felix to the closest mechanics, which is where we stayed for the next ten hours in such a debacle to work out what was wrong with the car.

In the end, we threw it out and replaced it at a considerable cost. We stayed in Tamarindo that night and ventured to Avellanos, where we surfed with more people again.

Ollie and Bronnie with broken Felix near Dominical in Costa Rica

So far, we have found many coastal roads here in Costa Rica to be very slow and rough. It is never a surprise to feel like your driving to a remote destination and then reach a very developed ants nest of Americans and other ex-pats from across the world, for example, Playa Guiones, which was our next stop. We stayed two nights here, hoping for some decent surf. We weren't successful, so we moved onto Santa Teresa.

Finally, we found a comfortable beach and had a lot of good waves for everyone. We enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of Santa Teresa that we stayed for five nights.

The swell was dropping, so we decided to travel to Playa Hermosa with a lovely German friend we met called Anette Rapp. Upon arrival at Playa Hermosa after an already very long day of driving and a ferry crossing, we decided to keep heading for Dominical as the waves at Playa Hermosa were closing out.

Barrels were a common site at Santa Teresa in Costa Rica

Dominical was our last stop on the coast before we drove to San Jose to pick Bronnie's dad Dave up from the airport. While in Dominical, Bronnie, Anette and I were going to another surf destination when Felix decided to blow its transmission seal out. We were lucky to flag down a passer-by that could speak English and is a reputable mechanic in the area called Doctor Car. We picked the car up from the mechanic with time just on our side and drove towards the San Jose airport.

The excitement was growing as we waited for Dave to walk through the arrival gates. Soon enough, we were all in the car on our way to our Hotel. We bought some beers and chilled out, talking the night away. We woke the following morning, navigated our way through the capital San Jose and found ourselves arriving in the border city of Cuidad Neily after hours of driving in torrential rain.

This location was our last stop in Costa Rica before we crossed the border into Panama.

We had some excellent times in Costa Rica, but the cons weighed heavily on the pros, so we were happy to leave.

Punta Burica here we come!

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