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Surfing and yoga retreats, especially in warm, tropical places, have become the latest vacation craze.

But what if you don’t know how to surf or live in a land-locked place? Is it an adventure still worth trying? Here’s what a few surf retreat goers had to say:

“This week has been about so much more than learning how to surf ... the support & encouragement you have given me, and this beautiful place will stay with me for years to come. I never imagined myself as a surfer chick … but despite my doubts … you guys got me up on the waves.” “Thank you for the best vacation! I went down to Costa Rica feeling like I was simply walking though life but not actually living it and now I feel more alive than ever.” “The best moment was the first time I caught a solid wave. Amazing!!! I can’t believe that just two and a half months ago I couldn’t swim, and now I am actually surfing and loving it!! There is nothing like facing your fears. After that, I was like, ‘bring it on’, I can do anything.”

Santa Teresa Beach on Costa Rica’s southern Nicoya Peninsula is a hot destination for surf and yoga retreats. The popularity is so high that beachfront Hotel Tropico Latino holds retreats all year long in conjunction with Pura Vida Adventures.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Santa Teresa gets a 10 – warm Pacific Ocean, great waves, sparkling white sand beach, tropical palm trees, balmy weather, and a mention in Forbes Magazine as one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world.

Week-long surf retreats are taught by professional, bilingual, highly-trained surf instructors. Yoga is added into the combination for stretching and relaxation. There are both co-ed and women-only retreats offered. “Be adventurous and transform yourself. Learn how to surf, or improve your surfing skills. Come alone or with friends. Retreats draw inspiration from the Costa Rican phrase ‘pura vida,’ which, loosely translated means ‘to enjoy life’,” affirms retreat promotional material.

A typical day in life at surf camp goes something like this: Morning yoga class followed by breakfast and a few hours of surf instruction. In the afternoon, lunch and time to relax (go for a massage or spa treatment, swim in the beachfront pool, lounge in a hammock, enjoy a “siesta”). If surf conditions are good, there will be a sunset surf session, followed by dinner and social time. Optional day tours also are offered during the week.

Beginner surfers will learn basic technical skills: Proper etiquette, water safety, wave riding skills (how to properly stand up and ride waves), and effective paddling techniques. Intermediate surfers will focus on strengthening their surfing game. Advanced surfers will sharpen their surfing abilities and learn new maneuvers. The student to teacher ratio is three-to-one, but there are also one-on-one sessions. Pura Vida Adventures offers a full cadre of surfboards: "SoftTops," epoxy, fiberglass, high-performance long boards, fun-shapes, fish, and short-boards.

You don’t have to be 22 and from Southern California to go on a surf and yoga retreat either. Said one retreat participant: “What a way to celebrate being 60! AND just what I needed ... a surf vacation in warm water without the bother of a wetsuit. Despite having 5 years of surfing experience, at first I was very intimidated by the waves. However with … calm encouragement and attentive guidance, I pushed through my fear and discovered that, yes, I can ride these waves!” Surf retreats are available at Hotel Tropico Latino in August, November and December 2013, all the way through May 2014.

By Shannon Farley


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