Tag: kai surfs costa rica

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Kai Surfs Costa Rica: Budgets, Boards and Pura Vida

Where: Costa Rica
January 13, 2012 at 6:08 PM | by | Comments (0)

Kai MacMahon had lost himself to the urban life in NYC, taking up running but putting down the surfboard. That is, until recently when he bit the bullet and flew himself to Costa Rica to drive, sleep and surf wherever he damn well pleased. All this week, Kai will share his experiences on the beaches and the breaks, and how he made it happen.

Yesterday: Becoming a (surf) bum in Mal Pais

As you've probably guessed, Costa Rica is one of the most surf-friendly destinations on the planet. Surfers are welcomed here with open arms, and locals will go above and beyond to help you out. It is perfectly normal to see a massive board bag strapped to the roof of a taxi, to store your boards in your hotel room, and to set up a makeshift clothes line outside your door.

And just as friendly as it is, it's also easy. US Dollars are accepted just about everywhere and most people speak at least a little English, though no matter how bad your Spanish, an attempt to speak it will always go down well. ATMs are fairly easy to find, and most will have English as an option. The bigger bank ATMs even dispense dollars as well as the local currency, Colones, and any of the main hotels or stores will take credit cards.

Nonetheless, be careful of the foreign transaction fee charges that your US bank will tack on; look into a foreign transaction-free credit card if you travel abroad often. For myself, I tried to pay for most things in cash, only using plastic for purchases of $100 and up.

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Kai Surfs Costa Rica: Making It to Mal Pais

Where: Costa Rica
January 12, 2012 at 4:33 PM | by | Comments (0)

Kai MacMahon had lost himself to the urban life in NYC, taking up running but putting down the surfboard. That is, until recently when he bit the bullet and flew himself to Costa Rica to drive, sleep and surf wherever he damn well pleased. All this week, Kai will share his experiences on the beaches and the breaks, and how he made it happen.

Yesterday: Playa Negra and the rush of hitting the waves.

Mal Pais is a sleepy little surf down at the bottom of the Nicoya Peninsula. Itís about five hours' drive from Tamarindo (taking the sensible road), or many more hours drive than that taking the silly, but very picturesque coastal road. I say silly because the above is what sometimes passes for a road in Costa Rica.

Note that the photo was taken during the dry season. In wet season (May to November), or any time itís been raining, roads like this become impassable to all but the sturdiest SUVs. You'll find that towns in Costa Rica usually have an old man who magically knows the conditions of every river within 20 miles of his location, but as I was not in possession of one of these wrinkly oracles in my passenger seat and didnít feel like getting my SUV stuck in a river, I elected to take the boring, safer route.

Once I arrived in Mal Pais, the first thing I noticed was, well, not a whole lot really. Not much happens here, and thatís exactly whatís so great about the place. There are a couple of bars (thatís a couple more than when I was first there ten years ago), plus other mild activities like yoga, zip-line tours and so on, but the truth is you come to Mal Pais for one reason: to surf.

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Kai Surfs Costa Rica: Playa Negra and the Rush of a Single Wave

January 11, 2012 at 4:51 PM | by | Comments (0)

Kai MacMahon had lost himself to the urban life in NYC, taking up running but putting down the surfboard. That is, until recently when he bit the bullet and flew himself to Costa Rica to drive, sleep and surf wherever he damn well pleased. All this week, Kai will share his experiences on the beaches and the breaks, and how he made it happen.

Yesterday: Hitting the road to Tamarindo.

Standing on beautiful Tamarindo beach, with my board under my arm and looking out to sea, it occurred to me in a moment of mild panic that I was very out of practice. Was I making a terrible mistake? The ocean, for all its infinite beauty, is still a scary, powerful and potentially lethal thing.

You see, you can generally tell how good a surfer somebody is by watching them as they enter the water. Folks who know what they're doing look like they own it; they glide out on their boards and effortlessly get themselves beyond the break (to the calmer part of the water where you see surfers congregate). Surfers who maybe aren't so great will walk their boards out until the water comes up to their chests, then flail around every time a wave comes in, and they generally project an aura of terror.

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Kai Surfs Costa Rica: The Road to Tamarindo

January 10, 2012 at 5:13 PM | by | Comments (0)

Kai MacMahon had lost himself to the urban life in NYC, taking up running but putting down the surfboard. That is, until recently when he bit the bullet and flew himself to Costa Rica to drive, sleep and surf wherever he damn well pleased. All this week, Kai will share his experiences on the beaches and the breaks, and how he made it happen.

Yesterday: Making the decision to drop everything and go.

Touching down at Liberia Airport in northern Costa Rica was somewhat of an adventure in itself. The terminal itself is modest (OK, itís a shack), and although thereís a shiny new terminal built and waiting to open, when I arrived they were still waiting for the paperwork to be complete [Ed note: the new terminal finally opens this Thursday!].

Within 30 minutes or so Iíd gone through immigration (and some sort of weird security check where they scanned my bags as they came in to the countryÖwhy would they do that?), and was on the way to pick up my rental car. A word on this: driving in Costa Rica is not for the faint of heart. Itís not that drivers here are bad; certainly theyíre no worse than you find in New York City. Itís just that the roads are—how to put it—somewhat unpredictable. You have to assume that thereís a horse in the road around every corner, because in many cases, there is in fact a horse in the road just around the corner.

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Kai Surfs Costa Rica: Setting Off from the City

January 9, 2012 at 4:54 PM | by | Comments (0)

Kai MacMahon had lost himself to the urban life in NYC, taking up running but putting down the surfboard. That is, until recently when he bit the bullet and flew himself to Costa Rica to drive, sleep and surf wherever he damn well pleased. All this week, Kai will share his experiences on the beaches and the breaks, and how he made it happen.

I used to surf a lot in my 20s. I even took a year out of my life to travel 'round the world on a combo surfing/snowboarding trip. At that time, I visited some of the worldís great destinations for these sports, taking in Central America, the Californian coastline, Hawaiiís legendary North Shore, and of course Bells & Bondi in Australia. I wasn't an expert per se, but I was reasonably competent on a board.

Eventually I settled in Southern California, with world class breaks on my doorstep, before making the move to NYC. In recent years though, my dearly loved 7' 6" funboard (hand shaped in San Diego, lovingly transported to New York City by your truly) has been more of an ornament than anything else. It's a beautiful '70s-style blue and white, and it's propped up against my living room wall, making me look all sporty and Californian to visitors that donít know any better, but definitely not serving the purpose for which it was designed. The truth is, I had stopped being a surfer.

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