Thirty years ago, in the year 1989, Iguana Surf was built and opened by a man named Cary Brown. It was one of the first Tamarindo surf shops, which then was barely even a town. The roads were made of dirt, and the buildings were made of wood. In the rainy season, people could be found kayaking down the “streets”! We were lucky enough that Cary’s ex-son-in-law, Jack Lettieri, shared some photos with us from back in the good ol’ days. After Cary and their mother got divorced, he didn’t really have any more ties to Costa Rica and said the last time he was back was in 2001 but that he has so many good memories of his time in Tamarindo. The Iguana Surf family is truly forever – even thirty years later, the original owners are still invested and want to know how everything is going!
Chad Gaston bought Iguana Surf from Cary in 2000. Since then, he and his sister Lindsey have grown the business and made it their own, and now business is booming more than ever!
Chad and Lindsey grew up in a small farm town called Oregon in Illinois, USA, which is about 90 miles west of Chicago. The population is only about 2,800, and the town is about as far away from the ocean as you can get. Growing up, the only surfing Chad and Lindsey were able to do was on family vacations in places like Hawaii, Australia, Fiji, and of course, Tamarindo. Tamarindo was by far one of their favorite vacation spots, and they had rented surfboards from Iguana Surf while visiting.
Their mom noticed that the shop was for sale and suggested that Chad give them a call. He didn’t at first, because he thought she might be kidding and he was still in school. But mom always knows best! She gave them his email address anyway and Cary actually reached out to him. After that, it wasn’t hard to see that moving to Tamarindo wasn’t something he could pass up. It ended up being an incredible adventure.
Chad decided to purchase Iguana Surf in 2000 while he was a senior at Arizona State University, three months before his graduation. After Chad turned in his last final, he was on a plane without a second thought (he didn’t even wait for the graduation ceremony!) The family business in Tamarindo has since expanded to include a construction company and Iguana Surf Vacations, which includes a number of condos that are rented out to visitors. Chad’s focus is mostly on the construction company now, and his sister, Lindsey, came in to run the surf shop and new hotel in 2014.
Now here we are in 2019, proud to be one of the top surf shops in Tamarindo. A lot has changed since 1989 – there are way more people, lots of new restaurants and bars, and even paved roads! But the core values and the incredible team that has set Iguana Surf apart since the beginning are still stronger than ever. We currently have an amazing group of office staff, shop employees, and surf instructors that make every experience at Iguana Surf unforgettable. We are here to meet your every need and make sure that your experience surfing in Tamarindo is as great as Chad’s was way back in the day… we don’t want you to get so inspired that you want to buy the shop (Chad isn’t quite ready to give it up yet!) but we want to inspire every person who surfs with us to share the same love of the sport and this amazing place that brought us all here.
To celebrate 30 years of operation, we have some very special promotions going on! These are some killer deals – we want to show our appreciation to all of our amazing customers that have become part of the Iguana Surf Family!
We are offering a buy two get the third for free deal for both surf lessons and our surf camp! If you purchase surf lessons for two people, you can add a third person for free! And the same goes for the Tamarindo surf camp. If you book our camp for two people, you can bring a third person for free!
You can save you up to $80 on surf lessons and up to $702 on the surf camp! Clearly, these are not deals you want to miss out on. We are also offering 30% off of surfboard rentals. Although our rental prices are already very affordable, a little discount never hurts! The best part is that these promotions are going on for the rest of the year! (Excluding the dates of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.) So there is no rush – you have seven good months left to plan an epic Tamarindo surf camp and take advantage of these incredible deals!
Here is a little more info on exactly what we offer so you can plan how you want to organize your Costa Rica surf trip.
For board rentals, the most popular option is a two-hour rental which is just $10. We also have five hour, eight hour, twenty-four hour, or week-long rental prices! No matter how long or short you would like to keep your board, we can find a price that will work for you. And if you take a lesson with Iguana Surf, you also get half off of your board rentals for the rest of your vacation! This makes the prices a bargain.
There are a few different options for lessons with Iguana. Lessons are at 9 am, 12 pm, and 3 pm every day, and are just under two hours long. We do recommend booking in advance to ensure your spot, as we usually fill up. Group lessons start at $45 per person, and the groups are no more than four people with one instructor. These are beginner lessons that start with about twenty-five minutes of instruction on the sand discussing safety and theory, and then the remainder of the time is spent catching waves! This is a great option for solo travelers or people who are on a bit of a budget. We also offer semi-private lessons which we book for two to three people with one instructor. This way, you get a little more one-on-one time with your instructor and you can personalize the lesson a bit more if you have surfed before or want to work on specific things. Finally, private lessons are $80 per person, and you get maximum time with your instructor. Again, since you are the only person in the lesson, these can be personalized to fit your ability level or, you can always just start from the beginning if you have never surfed before. No matter which option you choose, we know you will have a blast and will be standing up and catching waves by the end of your lesson!
Our Tamarindo surf camp includes a week of surf lessons with an instructor assigned to you, and a whole lot more. We have options for everyone, from solo travelers to groups of friends to participate in our camp. Accommodations in our beautiful beachfront hotel, transportation to and from the Liberia airport, daily breakfast from the restaurant out on the balcony, a rashguard, photos and videos, a surf trip, and your lessons are all included in the price of the camp. This is a great bang for your buck and an awesome way to get your foot in the door with surfing or perfect your skills! Normally the camp starts on Saturdays and goes for a week, but if you need to change the dates or would like to come for a shorter or longer period of time, we can work with you to make that happen. You will be able to choose from accommodation in our deluxe shared dorm room which is an awesome choice for people traveling alone, a private suite which is perfect for couples or groups up to three, or our special family suite which can accommodate up to around eight people if you are coming with a group of friends or a bunch of families. Tamarindo draws people from all over the world so you will have the chance to meet people from all walks of life. You might come as strangers, but you will leave as family!
Although unfortunately, we don’t still have these killer Iguana Surf VW bugs to cruise around town, we have even more to offer than we did 30 years ago while maintaining the same small town, family-owned vibe. And of course, Tamarindo still has the same epic sunsets. We can’t wait to see what is in store in the next thirty years, and we want you to come and join our family! Check out our website for more info and to start booking your Tamarindo surf trip!
Thank you for all the amazing years in Tamarindo!
IGUANA SURF STAFF