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Published:May 27th, 2012 21:23 EST
Surf's Up at Costa Rica Surf Camp

Surf's Up at Costa Rica Surf Camp

By Don G. Halbert

Here we were - staring up and down a raging jungle river that only months earlier had washed out the only bridge leading to the other side where Dylan Park (Costa Rica surf camp owner) claimed one of the most secret surf spots in the country was.  

That was on our final day in Costa Rica but you`ve got to hear what led to that point... 

It was December of 2011 when we made the move and booked our trip to Costa Rica - my name is Debbie and my husband Gerry and I came to the conclusion that we wanted a Costa Rica vacations package that we would not soon forget.  
While searching around on the Internet, Gerry had come across a lot of talk about a little seaside village in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica called Dominical. 
 
After extensive research and reading many of the reviews of the various activities around Dominical, we decided this would be ground-zero for our adventure to the small Latin American nation.  
"It appeared to have everything we were after in a vacation spot - waterfalls, surfing, diving, quadding and even zip-lining!" said Gerry excitingly when he came home from work one day and pitched the idea of Dominical on me while in a VERY vulnerable place - I was changing our youngest, Alicia after a bout with grape juice and the diaper mess that ensued.  
Needless to say I didn`t need much selling on the idea. 
"When?" was all I asked.  
We arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica on December 10th and were greeted by Dylan Park of Sunset Surf Dominical. 
Dylan had previously agreed to pick us up because we`d apparently booked our Costa Rica surf camp packages at the right time - there were two other couples booked for the same week so we were in luck.  
The road over what Dylan called, "The Road of the Dead" was well...exciting to say the least. But what really got my attention were the wind farms along the way near the peak of the mountain range. They were awesome to see in person.  
Shortly after the wind farm there was a part of the road at the summit where we could see both the Pacific and the Caribbean oceans. It shows just how small Costa Rica is.  
Within 4 hours or so we arrived in Dominical. Not what we expected!  
Rustic is an understatement when describing Dominical - no paved roads, potholes that could swallow a pickup, almost zero developed land and if you think you`re gonna find a Mickey D`s or Starbucks here...you`re in for a rude awakening my friend. 
Nonetheless...despite not being anything like we`d pictured, the place was precisely what we were looking for. Small seaside village where the hardest decision of the day is which way to point your hammock.  
Dylan took us for the tour. After 3 minutes we were on our way to the hotel - Domilocos is a great little place where one can stay practically right on the beach while not busting the bank. The owner of the hotel, Michael, was a great guy from Holland who`d moved to Costa Rica with his wife, a Costa Rican native and built the hotel and restaurant Confusione that specializes in Tapas.
Did I mention how hot it was in Dominical? OMG. Another unexpected but pleasing experience. I think in the week we were there I must have lost about 20lbs. 
Then it was time to surf...  
Both Gerry and I had never been on a surfboard. I don`t even think I`d seen one up close before to be honest. Dylan was in for a challenge.  
Our first lesson was well...to put it lightly...a great lesson in the fine art of seawater tasting.  
I must have swallow half the Pacific during that first lesson. I wouldn`t actually surf an entire wave length the first time out - Gerry however would.  
Second time`s a charm...after vowing never to take a nose dive off the board while screaming my lungs out, I began to get the hang of it. Finally after a few ESPN worst wipe outs, I managed to stay up and ride my first wave. 
What a thrill!  
After nailing the art of surf - aren`t I modest? - we were then taken by Dylan to see one of the many nearby waterfalls. 
 
Nayacua (not sure) waterfall was unlike anything I`d ever seen before. This was the real Costa Rica - the one you see on all those ads and TV commercials featuring the true raw beauty of this country. Words cannot describe the beauty of this place.  
We were fed breakfast and lunch by the tour operator and owner, Don Lulu. We even got to touch toucans, macaw parrots and these weird rodents (in fact the largest in the world) that had deer like spots all over them. 
 
The whole experience at this waterfall was an all-day event. 
 
Then back to Dominical for sunset and a beer with my hubby.  
Another fantastic experience we enjoyed was zip-lining. The place was called Hacienda Baru and it was a protected park with an incredible array of massive trees, wildlife and...MONKEYS!  
There were monkeys every where we looked. I think they told us they were two different breeds - capuchin (white-faced) monkeys and the other was called a howler monkey. The howler monkey was über cool because it was not only large in size but apparently it was the one breed of howler in Central and South America that is vegetarian (like me). Boy do they sound creepy when they let off that howl.  
So here I was...synched in to some kind of climbing girdle attached to a thick wire cable tied between two incredibly old trees in the Costa Rican jungle. I thought to myself..."only 5 days earlier you were cleaning crap off the couch and now you`re about to fly like an eagle amongst the jungle canopy."
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee....... 
That was something to tell the kids about I tell you.  
Now back to the river crossing on our last day in Dominical before heading back to the rat race of New York.  
So I`m sitting here looking at this river in front of us and looking at my husband...looking at Dylan...looking at the river...looking at my husband...  
Bam! Before I knew what happened, Dylan hits the river and we begin our crossing. I believe for a moment we actually floated a little - once we were on the other side and I breathed a sigh of relief, we emerged from the jungle to a beach so beautiful - so incredibly natural and unpopulated. So...tranquilo!  
This was "the spot". Dylan told us that not many foreigners know of this secret surf location and that we should feel special to have seen it...surfed it...lived it ourselves. 
And we were. We were indeed. 
For more information on Sunset Surf in Dominical...visit their website at http://www.sunsetsurfdominical.com