Surf School in Costa Rica: A Go! Girl Experience


Love the beach but tired of just sitting on the sand? Looking for something new to do this summer? Interested in finding a new workout routine? Or perhaps you want to join the elite ranks of badass betties who rip the waves? A surf camp is the answer!

This June while researching for our solo female travel guide book to Costa Rica, we got to hang out in Jacó, one of Costa Rica’s most popular beaches. It’s also home to some of the best surf schools in Costa Rica. Tortuga Surf Camp generously provided their services for a surf lesson and gave a taste of what a surf school might be like!

So what happens during a surf lesson?

Part I: Dry land

Your instructor will usually start you out on land with a longboard. They’ll talk about paddling technique and positioning, which will help segue into how to ‘pop up’ onto your board. Instructors vary in how they teach this part of surfing, but a good lesson will always include a bunch of dry runs for you to practice getting up onto the board before heading out to the water.

Your instructor should always address safety BEFORE you get into the water. How to protect your head if you fall off your board, how to get past the breakers, how to carry your board, the works! Surfing is an adrenaline-pumper, to be sure, so it’s super important to know how to handle yourself on the board and in the water.

Part II: In the water

Of course it wouldn’t be surfing if you stayed on the sand all day! Now that you have the gist of safety procedures and technique, it’s time to give it a shot on real waves. Your instructor will start out by helping you with positioning your board and giving you a little push as the wave comes. As you practice getting up on your board and riding the wave into shore, listen to your instructor’s tips. Over the rush of the water you’ll likely hear shouts of “STAY LOW!” or “WEIGHT ON YOUR BACK FOOT!” At least, those are the ones I heard the most. J

Whether you fall down or stay up, you’ll come right back out to the water and keep practicing! And remember: don’t get discouraged if you don’t stand up the first time you have a surf lesson. Like any sport, practice is key.

Of course, it helps to have a great instructor, too!

Alright, I’m sold! What do I need to bring?

In Costa Rica, it’s best to bring as little as possible. Usually the surf school will have rash guards to protect your belly (trust me on this, board burn is a pain!) and of course it’s best if you can leave your valuables in a secure place, like your hostel safe. We’d also recommend leaving the camera at home, unless you have a buddy accompanying you who can take photos.

Does Tortuga Surf Camp get a Go! Girl Guides stamp of approval?


Celine & Michael, who run the camp (and are also two stellar surfers themselves), work to make sure you are having a good time learning to surf in a safe environment. Their staff is very professional, and they all are genuine in their love for the sport, the ocean and Costa Rica.

Further, the quality of instruction was really high: our instructor, Michael, is a lifeguard and certified by the International Surfing Association. He was very thorough when teaching us board technique and safety, more so than any of the other surf instructors we had had.  By the end of the lesson, we were getting out to the break, turning our boards and catching waves by ourselves.

We also loved that attendees of their surf camp receive photo packages and even GoPro video footage to help improve your stance. Not too shabby!

Interested in learning more about Tortuga Surf Camp? Check out their website!

Special thanks to the team at Tortuga Surf Camp for subsidizing my day and taking the photos included in this post. All opinions are my own.


About Author

Sara learned the value of travel at an early age, on annual family trips in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Not to be relegated to the North American continent, she made her first trip overseas at the age of 13 and has been finding ways to travel ever since. She has explored Etruscan tombs in Italy, made hostel beds in Ireland, and hiked volcanoes in Costa Rica. Follow her travels near and far at


  1. Pingback: A Go! Girl Visit to The Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica

  2. Surfing looks like so much fun but sadly I have zero sense of balance so I’m not sure if I could pull it off. I tried snowboarding once and well, let’s just say that I spent most of my time with my face in the snow whilst my friends were gracefully going down the slopes haha. Maybe surfing would be different though. 🙂

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