Safari Surf School

Costa Rica: Golfo de Nicoya

High standard surf camp surrounded by nature with a range of accommodation choices and the option to custom build your trip - exactly as you want it


Owning and running a surf school in Costa Rica had never been a lifelong dream of either Tyler or myself... it just kind of fell into our laps so to speak. Growing up on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, we had long hoped to establish ourselves in a peaceful, tropical environment, where we could share our love for surfing with each other and our families.

Together, we have surfed around the world in places such as Australia, Bali, Baja, Maldives, Mentawai Islands, California, Fiji, Hawaii, Mexico, Tahiti, and Jamaica, but it wasn't until we bought land in Costa Rica in 1995, that we were able to fulfill the pursuit of our dream... to live in an area with un-crowded surf and a peaceful lifestyle. Unfortunately for myself I tried to retire before I had made any money... reality hit me that I would need to return home to the states and prepare for fatherhood and get a job! Tyler, with no ties and truly in paradise decided to make Costa Rica his permanent address. After getting to know our surroundings and realizing that it was an ideal atmosphere for the establishment of a surf school, we decided to act upon our idea and bring people to the most beautiful place in the world to share our passion for surfing.

Our background in surfing and in the area, combine to help us create ideal vacations and learning experiences for our clients. Surfing has become commercialized in the last decade, and we thought it would be refreshing to instill the true essence of surfing for newcomers, or revitalize the energies of the occasional surfer with the creation of Safari Surf School. Our approach to teaching others to surf is simple: patience and a sense of humor mixed with a vast knowledge of ocean environment. We truly enjoy what we are doing and it shows. Come with an open mind and an open heart, and we will guarantee you, you will not only learn to surf and understand the ocean but your entire outlook on life may change as well.

So come join us here at Safari Surf School and enlighten yourself physically and mentally. Our instructors are Red Cross certified in CPR and proficient in life-saving techniques. Safety is as important to us as the fun!


Tim Marsh

More about Tim

Tim has been surfing for over 30 years. During his “grom” years in Hawaii, he competed in local Hawaiian Surfing Association and NSSA events. After high school graduation, Tim moved to California to further his education and continue his competitive surfing career. He competed in Pro-Am events and the Bud-Pro Tour, prominent at the time.


More about Tyler

Tyler has lived full time in Nosara for the last 13 years. As the lead instructor and on-site manager of Safari Surf School, he provides clients with exceptional knowledge of surfing techniques, what Nosara has to offer and the comfort of knowing that the school’s owner is always a stone’s throw away.




Q: Do I need any immunizations?

A: We have not had any problems with Malaria or Hepatitis in our region. The only time we recommend a hepatitis shot is if you plan on surfing after heavy storms in September or October.

Q: Is there an ATM locally?

A: Yes, there is a full-time bank and ATM in town. The only card that will work for cash withdrawal either from the ATM or bank must have a Visa logo on it. Mastercard is not accepted at the bank or ATM.

Q: Do you accept credit cards or traveler's checks?

A: Most businesses in Nosara will accept Visa and some but not all, may take MasterCard. American Express and Diner's cards are rarely accepted, if ever. Traveler's checks are hard to cash and really aren’t worth the hassle most places.

Q: Are there sharks?

A: Ocean = sharks... so, yes there are sharks here. But, there are no reefs where we surf and all of the reef sharks stay way out on the outer reef shelves where the food supply for them is abundant. We have not seen a shark in our shallow waters in the 11 years we have been here

Q: Can I stay for less than or more than 7 days?

A: Absolutely! Just let us know which package appeals to you, how many rooms you'll be needing, the length of your stay and from there we can put a custom package together suited to your needs.


Q: Do I need to bring any type of electrical adapter for the plug outlets in Costa Rica?

A: No, The outlets in Costa Rica are the same as the US and do not require an adapter.


Q: Is there a place to buy toiletries and other goods?

A: Yes, there are a couple of mini-markets in town, one is within walking distance


Q: Is there internet service at the hotel?

A: The Casa Tucan hotel has public Wi-Fi access to the internet. There is also internet service at the Pura Vida, Harbor Reef Hotel & there are a couple of "internet cafes" in town within walking distance. 2 cafes across the street from Casa Tucan have free Wifi and free calls to the US and Canada.


Q: What's the deal with the trash can next to the toilet in Costa Rica? 

A: 90% of Costa Rica is on a septic system. With rare exception, all the hotels and establishments are on a septic system and therefore have the same rule that toilet paper can NOT be flushed. Due to the issues of septic back-up which can become a seriously "nasty" affair.


Q: Can I contribute to local schools or the local community in Nosara through a donation of some sort?

A: The answer is YES. 


Q: What about bugs?

A: For being a semi-dry rainforest climate, this area of Costa Rica is not too bad with bugs. If you are from Southern California, it might be annoying, but for most people from other parts of the world, you are used to bugs during certain seasons. So, yes, there are bugs here. Mostly it is a problem for people during the transitions of seasons: from the wet to the dry season (November) or the dry to the wet season (April/May). Bring mosquito repellent with you if you are sensitive to bites, anytime you are coming. People also sometimes get bit by no-see-ums (usually around dusk/dawn around the full moons). The no-see-ums do not leave welts. If you need repellent (natural or with DEET) the local markets also sell it. Be sure to check shoes if not wearing flip-flops, scorpions do like dark places and they'll bite you if you jam your foot into their hiding spot.

Q: What animals do I need to know about? Are they dangerous?

A: Just check your shoes or shake out clothes and towels before using them. You most likely will get bit by an insect or two. Anything else is unusual. Most of the animals here are scared of people and will stay clear of you. You'll see them, but try chasing an iguana or monkey and see how close you can get!

Q: What is the culture like in Costa Rica?

A: Like most Latin American cultures, Costa Rican culture is very family-oriented. Family and community and good relations are very important. As a tourist you will find that most Costa Ricans will be friendly, helpful and, very patient if you use your bad Spanish to ask questions or get acquainted. In fact, the culture here is patient overall. You will not find that people will rush you in stores or restaurants. In the city areas especially, people read the papers daily and often know more about world events than your average tourist. It is difficult to describe a culture in a few sentences. We recommend spending time with people when you are here.

Q: Do people speak English or only Spanish?

A: Don't expect everyone to speak English. However, in Nosara, many of the Ticos do speak English because they work in the tourism industry. Many Europeans who also own hotels/restaurants here also speak English. If you speak any Spanish, or want to try, this is a great place to do so. People appreciate your efforts.

Q: What is the better season for visiting Costa Rica: summer or winter?

A: Depends. Most people seem to prefer the dry season (or "summer" which is actually Nov.-April). Others prefer some rain and the lush green of the wet season (or "winter" which is actually May-Nov.). It is more humid and buggy in the wet season, but some people still prefer it for the rain, lush greenery around you, and the abundant wildlife teeming everywhere. Basically, all times are great in our opinion. September through October is the rainiest, and some of the hotels and restaurants close then. 

Q: Is traveling with children safe in Costa Rica?

A: Given that no place anywhere is 100% safe: traveling with children in Costa Rica is a great way to take a family trip. Costa Ricans love children, and there is a lot of space afforded you if you have children. Costa Rica has very sanitary conditions, safe water, great healthcare- so concerns about those issues are not present here.

Q: What about crime in Costa Rica?

A: There is petty crime almost everywhere, especially in Latin America. Costa Rica is not an exception. Do not wear flashy jewelry, do not display large amounts of money, keep valuables locked up and do not leave them unattended, even in a locked car. If you do these things, your chances are greatly reduced to experience any problems with crime in Costa Rica. As for violent crime, the percentages are much lower here than in many developed countries. People pick up hitch-hikers as a matter of routine, if that gives you an idea of the concern for violent crime in Nosara. 

Q: What is 'Pura Vida!' & what does it mean?

A: It means "pure life"; "good life"; "all is well"; "all should be well, life here is so good"; "of course life is good; "Good bye from Costa Rica"; "Hello/Hi!".... lots of meanings. You'll hear it as an answer to questions like: "How are you?", "how's life?", "how's work?" .... Costa Ricans are very proud of their country and the blend of being a developing country yet keeping much of the environment from urbanization or overdevelopment. Life here is considered to be a very good life. This is uniquely a Costa Rican expression for the most part. ....Pura Vida! 

Q: Should I schedule tours and activities ahead of time or wait?

A: We recommend scheduling fishing charters (half or full day ) ahead of time, so if this is an important activity for your trip, you do not miss out. Just Let Tyler or Kim know that you're interested in fishing upon your arrival and they'll get it set up for you. However, if you are coming around the winter holidays or spring break or Easter week, just to avoid the hassle of squeezing things in among other visitors coming the same time - you may want to schedule some other activities if they are important too: boat tours, horseback riding, renting quads, etc. 

Q: What do people do in Nosara, do I need to bring entertainment?

A: If you like to play games or read, bring those items. Most people surf, swim, lounge, read, chat, and enjoy the outdoors and activities available here. Video games might be the only thing hard to find. Direct TV is at the hotel bar and if your favorite ball game is on I'm sure you can ask the lovely bar gal to check to see if it's on!! There are also nice restaurants in town which have live music, karaoke, pool tables, and the usual things like that. In town there is a disco / salsa club that gets hopping on the weekends called the Tropicana. 

Q: Can I really see monkeys in the trees there?

A: Yes, pretty much year round, if you try hard (and mostly even if you don't) you can see them moving through the trees in troops (monkey tribes). You'll see the Congo or mantled Howler monkeys, the males are loud... you'll probably hear them before you see them! 

Q: How likely is it that we could see an arrivada in Ostional?

A: The Olive Ridley Turtle arrivadas (arrivals) usually happen with frequency from April through November.If you can plan it right, it’s more likely if you are here about 10 days past a full moon. Sometimes you see individual turtles, but an arrivada is a large group of nesting turtles that is really a spectacle to see.

Q: What is the night life like in Nosara?

A: There are restaurants, bars, clubs, dancing, live music, pool, karaoke, all available depending upon your taste and interests. It is not a bustling city, but there is a night life here.

Q: How long is the drive from San Jose or Liberia to Nosara?

A: The drive from Liberia to Nosara is 2 1/2 -3 hours, or longer, if you encounter something unusual. The drive to/from San Jose to/from Nosara is about 4 - 41/2 hours, given no unusual incidents, such as road work or accidents.


Q: What are the advantages to driving or flying from the international airports to Nosara?

A: The advantages for driving are that you can leave immediately, take more luggage and surfboards, and it is often less expensive. If you are renting a car anyway, this may be the way to go. The advantage to flying is it can be faster if you time your international and national flights to coincide well. The commuter flights can be less expensive if you are not renting a car later, and you don't have to navigate 4 hours of driving, depending upon the number in your party. The flight is 45 minutes more or less and it is gorgeous, it's a nice bonus as an air tour! You also may choose to hire a driver, which is less work for you, less costly than flying if you have a large party, and allows for you to take a lot of gear easily.



Helping the Community

Coming down for a surf trip?  Want to help our local community?  It is easy! Here's are some ways that you can help out. All new or gently used materials will be accepted with open arms. The schools in Nosara lack many basic school supplies, including:  notebooks, white paper, construction paper, pens, pencils, erasers, scissors, glue, crayons, colored pencils, geometry sets, chalk, whiteboard markers, etc.  When you see a sale, stock up! 

  • Help enrich our classrooms by bringing puzzles, counting sets, blocks, simple bilingual picture books, clay/play dough, art and craft supplies, calculators....get creative!  
  • Pack your gently worn clothing, shoes, backpacks, etc. (men, women, and children) in the extra space in your luggage
  • Who are we?  We are the Surfing Nosara Foundation.  We help local public schools, one project at a time.
  • What do we do?  We plant gardens, we build lunchrooms and living quarters for teachers, we bring trash bins to encourage cleaner school yards; we facilitate renovation projects to improve local schools.  We work in conjunction with all individual local schools to assess projects, which we fund on a most-need basis.
  • Our dream?  To build more classrooms, playgrounds, and new schools.  Help make our dream a reality.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a small country, about the size of the state of Virginia. It's very large, however, in its appeal to visitors. The appeal begins with friendly, always smiling, local people known as Ticos. The people in Costa Rica are genuinely hospitable and happy. They truly take a "pure life" attitude toward living, hence the coined expression "pura vida." Add beautiful landscapes and lush tropical forests to the mix, and you start to realize what everyone's talking about. Combine those with warm water and incredibly consistent surf, and you'll realize you've finally found paradise.

The sun rises in Costa Rica around 5:15 a.m., and sets around 5:30 p.m. Water temperatures range between 76-80 degrees F. all year. Air temperatures are usually 80-90 degrees F. on average and dip down to a balmy 75 degrees at night. Wind conditions are generally "off-shore" in the morning, and turn to a light "on-shore" until the mid to late afternoon glassy, "off-time" arrives (very similar to California conditions in the summer months). During December and January, the wind can blow "off-shore" all day long.


Nosara, Costa Rica

Nestled in a quiet, quaint town of Nosara in the Guanacaste Province on the Pacific side of the country of Costa Rica. Unlike the crowded beaches of places like Tamarindo, Jaco, or Dominical in Nosara you won't be trampled by hoards of tourists.

There are approximately 500 Ticos and around 200 emigrants from America and Europe living in the vicinity. You are truly in the jungle, and you'll realize it when you awaken in the morning to the Howler monkeys stretching their vocal chords in the distance.

The allure of Nosara is that our beach (Playa Guiones) and the outer lining area is a wild life refuge protected from development of any kind. Nosara is truly "where the jungle meets the beach"!

Nosara is also home to a very large yoga community including The Nosara Yoga Institute and Omega Yoga. If yoga and surfing are your thing there is no better place to visit.

Safari Surf School is approximately 30 miles off the main paved road. That helps keep traffic down while enjoying all the necessary amenities. Telephones, internet, Direct TV,hot water and electricity are the norm. There's a doctor in town as well as a large hospital in Nicoya, just 60 minutes away. What makes Safari Surf School's location so special? You are close to multiple waterfalls that can be hiked to and Ostional, the Sea Turtles nesting sanctuary.

Here in Nosara, everything slows down so you can unwind, relax and enjoy the lifestyle while you learn to surf. There is cultural diversity here and likewise, an abundance of ethnically influenced eateries: French, German, Italian and American to balance the local fare. The peaceful serenity of Safari Surf School's beach is approximately four miles long and excellent for a great a.m. jog, shell-hunting, football, soccer, Frisbee, or just a long relaxing walk to take in the jungle scenery.


What To Bring

Of course we take care of all your major needs - food, lodging, equipment etc. But here's a short list of things you should consider bringing just to make life a little more comfortable.

  • Passport: You definitely need to have it with you to get in and out of Costa Rica and there needs to be 3 months of validity left on it.
  • Travel Insurance: you probably won't need it but its always better safe than sorry!
  • Medical Insurance card, credit card, etc: We strongly recommend that you make xerox copies of these and all important cards/papers so that you have one with you at all times, and in case you should lose or misplace originals.
  • Shots: There is no need to get any shots or take any pills to ward off Malaria or any other disease ...unless you like to get sick. We've been in Nosara for over 10 years and there hasn't been a case of Malaria yet!
  • Sunscreen: Definitely 30 SPF and perhaps up to 50 SPF, depending on your skin sensitivity and time out in the sun.
  • Loose-fitting long sleeve shirts and long pants
  • Hiking boots and/or Sneakers and/or Tevas: for the adventurous... Flip Flops are NOT PERMITTED on Canopy Tour
  • Bug repellent: (DEET is very good).
  • Beach towel
  • Hat
  • Flashlight
  • Rashgaurd (personal choice)
  • Rain Jacket or Poncho and Umbrella*
  • Do not bring Traveler's Checks
  • An international calling card (or you can buy them in the country for cheap)!
  • CASH is king here and that the ATM doesn't accept Mastercard
  • Money for the Departure Tax - You will need to pay a departure tax upon leaving Costa Rica in the amount of $26.00. You can either pay with cash or a Visa.

The two main seasons are wet and dry. The wet season is from April to mid-November with rains usually in the afternoon to cool off the ground temperature. May through June can get sticky at times with high humidity, but night showers cool off the jungle.

Sometimes in July there is a period the Costa Ricans call their Indian Summer, where the rain will completely stop. September and October are truly the wet months when it can rain for days on end, making travel by road almost impossible in the jungle. During these two months, Safari Surf School closes as the ocean becomes unsafe with debris from the rainy days.

PP/Night from US$ 405