Surfing Stories from Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Surfing Stories from Tamarindo, Costa Rica

On Tamarindo’s sun-kissed shores in Costa Rica, there’s a close-knit family known as the Iguana Surf team. These exceptional individuals, passionate about the sea, eagerly share their love with everyone they meet. 

Our surfing instructors go beyond mere colleagues—they’re a dedicated group united by their love for surfing and a desire to inspire others.

As 2023 draws to a close, we thought we’d sit by the campfire with two members of our surfing family, Mocha and Christian, and pick their brains about their most standout moments of the year. 

In Surfing Stories from Tamarindo, we bring stories that go beyond the art of riding the waves. These are narratives of passion, resilience, and inspiration among those who share a love for surfing. 

We hope you’ll find them as inspiring as we did.

surfing in tamarindo costa rica

There’s no such thing as impossible.

The most memorable of all the surfing stories for me this year was giving lessons to a young man with hearing difficulties. At first, I was hesitant because I could not see a way to bridge the communication gap. Yet this young man, used to the challenge, whipped out his phone and explained that we could use an app to communicate. I simply spoke into his phone, and he would read the text. If he had questions, he’d type them in, and I’d answer them.

Now, learning theory on the shore was one thing, but we had to figure out how to handle things in the water quickly. We created a bunch of unique signs just for him so he knew when to paddle the wave and when to pop right up. I was astonished at how smoothly it all went! The student had a fantastic time (and stood up on the board in his first lesson), and, for my part, I had an unforgettable experience.

This was insanely different from anything I’d ever done and proved a valuable life lesson. At first, I thought it would be impossible to teach surfing to someone who is hearing impaired. Yet, my student proved that a person can do anything if they set their mind to it. He’d been busting to try surfing, and I feel so privileged that I got the chance to teach him.

Truth be told, it turned out to be a motivational experience for the entire Iguana team. It motivated all the instructors to see solutions, whereas before, they would only see obstacles. It was something none of us will ever forget.


surfing in tamarindo costa rica

You’re never too old to learn new tricks.

I have a particular spot for senior citizens who sign up for beginner lessons. In 2023, I had a particularly memorable one: a grandmother of five who was well into her 70s! She’d wanted to learn surfing for six decades, but life somehow got in the way. She married young, raised a large family, and always put everyone first.

But now she was, all by herself, taking surfing lessons from me!

Despite her initial hesitation (which I admit to sharing), this fearless lady faced the waves head-on with insane determination. It’s as if you could feel 60 years of anticipation driving her paddle over the waves. The first time she stood on the board, she let out the most ear-piercing ‘whooooohooooo’ that stopped everyone dead in their tracks. The clapping, cheering, and celebrations spread throughout the whole beach! 

Funnily enough, her enjoyment of that lesson and for trying something new later inspired a group of senior citizens on the beach to sign up for a group lesson.

If there is a single moment where I truly understood that age is just a number, it was that day.


surfing stories

Surfing as therapy.

Ask anyone who loves surfing, and they’ll tell you that an early morning surfing session is equivalent to a week’s worth of therapy for the mind and soul. Well, this year, I had the pleasure of instructing a group of young people dealing with various personal challenges, including anxiety and stress. They had traveled to Costa Rica for the therapeutic equivalent of a team-building week, and surfing in Tamarindo was chosen as their first activity.

Through learning to surf, they found a therapeutic outlet that allowed them to connect with nature, push their boundaries (some were super apprehensive at first), and, eventually, experience a profound sense of freedom and accomplishment. 

I’ve always been incredibly aware of the transformative power of the ocean and how it can become a healing force – but it was beautiful to see it in action.


surfing in tamarindo costa rica

Resilience has no boundaries.

It’s not rare to have a client recovering from an injury. Usually, this is something they’ll tell you straight off the bat, but this one time this year, my guest didn’t say a word. Only when he removed his T-shirt did I notice the extensive scar running along his back.

As it turns out, my student had suffered a terrible injury in a car accident. One so bad that he’d only been walking unaided for two months before he signed up for a surfing lesson. Oh boy, I felt instantly protective. Luckily, surfing in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, is considered the safest option: our beach is sandy and lacks the rocks found on other beaches. The waves are gentle, and chances for mishaps are minimal. Still, as you can imagine, I felt the weight of responsibility on my shoulders.

Yet my student was adamant to put my mind at ease. He’d taken a few surfing lessons and was just beginning to get addicted to surfing when he’d had his accident. He told me that dreaming of getting back in the ocean was the ONE thing that motivated him through months of rehab.

So that was it: I would help this guy live his dream! We ran through the basics to make sure he remembered everything. We took it easy, took lots of breaks, and waited for the perfect moment to get into the sea. Shivers ran down my spine when he finally did and almost made it standing. He didn’t quite stand up on his board, but you know what? It just didn’t matter.

It was the first step to getting back out there, and that was all that mattered.


surfing in tamarindo costa rica

Mocha and Christian’s stories are woven into the fabric of surfing in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Some days are life-changing, while many are simply light-hearted and enjoyable. And that pretty much sums up surfing in a nutshell – it’s a celebration of highs and lows, a testament to our shared journey on this unpredictable sea of life.

We hope you have enjoyed our surfing stories from Tamarindo.

And when you are ready to create your surfing story in our spectacular corner of paradise, we’ll be right here waiting at Iguana Surf.

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