On The Road

This Vacation Is a Surfer’s Paradise

A freelance photographer hit the waves and chased sunsets in Costa Rica for an entire month.

By: Jodi Taylor
Photography: Renée Rodenkirchen

We’re so close to warm weather, we can almost taste it. But that doesn’t mean we’re not still spending our days scrolling through IG obsessively looking at beach pictures or living vicariously through our friends who have been fortunate enough to take some time off and head south—sometimes we feel like we’re almost there with them, but then our pale, non-glowy skin brings us back to reality. A few weeks ago we found ourselves refreshing freelance photographer Renée Rodenkirchen’s IG on an almost hourly basis as she was enjoying a month-long surfing vacation in Costa Rica. Not only did she inspire us to do our own version of this trip one day (although we can’t promise we can get up on a surfboard), but she also shared her iPhone pics with us from the journey (probably because we wouldn’t stop bugging her to see them). Enjoy, and apologies in advance for reigniting your travel itch.

“I’ve surfed for years, but mostly on random vacations and road trips—I even went as far as surfing on the lakes around Toronto for a couple of years, in really bad weather, with onshore winds, and icicles forming from my eyebrows. However, what I’ve truly always wanted to do is spend a chunk of time in (warmer) water surfing my brains out.

“Having gone freelance recently, I took it upon myself to take a month off and follow my dream of being a surf bum—my friend is an actual real-life surf bum, so she seemed like the perfect accomplice. Within a week we had booked our tickets, found an Airbnb, and added a few more pals to the group. The trip was everything and more than I thought it could be. We surfed every day (sometimes twice a day), watched the sunset like it was a religion, and drank fresh pipas (young green coconuts) like they were water. The experience of leaving work behind and taking an actual vacation was something Id never done, and this was the beginning of a new life lesson to take things slower, absorb the moment, and chill the fuck out. The only thing Id change would be to bring my boyfriend along next time :p.”

“Underwater fishies on our boat trip to Tortuga Island.”

“Sunset jungle walk down to the beach in Playa Hermosa. For a month we went down to the beach every day for sunset and a beer.”

“Playing in the surf at sunset.”

“Playing with my GoPro in the surf at sunset. Hi, feet!”

“Fly into San José, and take a puddle jumper plane, like Nature Air, to Tambor. From Tambor you can get a taxi or rent a car nearby to get to your accommodation.”

“A fresh pipa from a little truck stand down at Playa Hermosa.”

“If someone could translate, that would be great. I just liked the painted signs with the fronds and beach in the background.”

“The pipa man serves excellent ceviche from the back of his truck. Don’t be scared! It’s super fresh, and they give you a pack of saltine crackers as well.”

“I literally have never seen nicer sunsets in the entire world—all the surfers getting out at dusk can really make for some beautiful photos.”

“On Sundays Rocamar is the most fun spot in town. Lounge, drink, and watch girls Hula-Hoop as the sun sets. Once the sun gets low, a huge bonfire is lit, and everyone dances.”

“A popular activity is to go on a horse tour along the beach. I didn’t do this, but I took pictures of them like a creep. Looks really fun, though!”

“La Perla is a trek to get to—you go at low tide, but it’s worth the adventure traversing the beach and crossing a river for the coldest beers in Costa Rica. Be prepared... This is as divey of a bar as they come.”

“I heart CR sunsets.”

“Get a group of friends together, bring some cold beers, and make a giant bonfire. It’s the best.”

“My friends who have lived in Hermosa for years had never been to Tortuga Island, so a group of about 7 or 8 of us got together and chartered a boat out to the beautiful little island. We snorkeled, saw lots of fish and even a sea turtle! The island is a little touristy, so if you’re not into that, I’d say skip going to the actual island—find a nice place to anchor and enjoy!”

“Sipping some tea on Tortuga Island.”

“This is me looking awkward on the boat we chartered.”

“A little island as seen through my sunglasses.”

“This is my favorite place in the world: Playa Hermosa. If you walk 10 mins up or down the beach at low tide, you’ll reach some tidal pools that are the best to just float in and have a beer. If you’re doing this around noon, make sure to wear all of the sunscreen and a hat.”

“Heading to the tide pools. Note the hat—sun protection is a MUST here.”

“Café Couleur is a lovely little café in Playa Hermosa. Great smoothies, food, and coffee.”

“I highly recommend finding an Airbnb with a pool.”

“Every day after our surf, we’d rinse off in our outdoor shower in the jungle. It was beautiful, and I wish every shower was in the jungle.”

“Micheladas is the most refreshing drink—half a beer, some fresh lime juice, ice, and a salty rim.”

“A row of Micheladas.”

“A horse tour guide waves to us as we pass him on the beach at sunset.”

“I’m always looking at the sky here. When the stars come out, it’s pure magic.”

“We left one day in search of surf up the coast and happened upon this gem of a place for the best coffee I’d had my entire stay in CR. If you’re interested in being in the mountains and don’t mind staying in a yurt, then you should check this out. I’ll definitely be going back for their breakfast enchiladas.”

“Driving up the mountain or into the mountains will never disappoint. There were always breathtaking views in all directions.”

“The locals in CR are known to be extremely good-looking and nice. It’s true! These are our local pals.”

“Here we’re about to surf on a black sand beach at a turtle sanctuary.”

“I fell in love with Shaka. The food is fresh and healthy, the staff are so nice, and the little cottages are really cute. This is a great place to do yoga every day and take surf lessons.”

“The waves were really small the first week we were in Playa Hermosa, but we still had so much fun. Holding hands on the wave was a highlight for me—such a nerd, haha!”

“Here I am relaxing at Vista de Ola, taking in the views. This is the best for sunset!”

“We were lucky to have a really beautiful jungle walk to the beach.”

“A view from up on the hill.”

“This is a taste of my former lake surfing life. :/”

THINGS TO DO IN PLAYA HERMOSA/SANTA TERESA

1. “Walk down to the Playa Hermosa beach, and get a pipa and ceviche from the pipa man (not sure if this is the name that everyone calls him?). Swim, watch the sunset! Imperial and Pilsen are the local CR beers and are yum.”

2. “At low tide either walk up or down the beach for about 10 mins, and you will get to see sandy low-tide pools—so fun to float in and have a beer!”

3. “Cafe Couleur for lunch and/or coffee.”

4. “TP8 Pizza Bar. You turn right on the main road after walking down the jungle path and walk past Shaka—there’s a resto that serves pretty good pizza.”

5. “Make sure to experience an ice cream sandwich called a Trits. It’s fucked-up good.”

6. “Koji’s: yummy, yummy sushi—rolls and other delicious things for dinner.”

7. “The Bakery in Santa Teresa.”

8. “Chop It for lunch is delicious and you will love it. Salads, burgers, juices. Yum!!”

9. “Vista de Ola. This is an infinity pool up in the mountain. Go for sunset!”

10. “Kika and La Lora. [The] party night is Thursday night—you go to Kika for live music and then get blackout at La Lora. They’re right next door to each other.”

11. “Rocamar. Go here for sunset any day. Sunday is the big party day with bonfires and Hula-Hoop girls.”

12. “Drive up the beach on ATVs at low tide.”

13. “If you’re looking for a one-night or morning adventure, we stopped here for the best coffee, and they make breakfast!”

14. “Turtle Refuge. This is a bit of a hike, but I loved the black sand beach. Also, a highlight was when one of the rangers released a baby turtle while we were there for a picnic and surf.”

15.“I LOVED Shaka Surf Camp. Go here for a dreamy week of surfing and yoga.”

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