Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Costa Rica Stand Up Paddling: Local Knowledge Means Hidden Treasure

Remember that point break we were checking out? We lucked out and got a chance to surf it yesterday. The spot is just about as perfect as it gets for stand up paddling; far from the crowds of prone surfers, long and fast. There were just three of us trading off waves until the place chewed through our gear and lumped us up enough to send us home with our tails between our legs.

We are fortunate to have friends who live in the area who knew we'd want to connect with Steve, the owner of Coconut Harry's surf shop. It soon became obvious to us that Coconut Harry's is THE shop to go to for rentals and surf information. Even better, Steve is a hardcore stand up paddler and, best of all, he's got his own perfect SUP surf spot. Steve is the kind of guy that stand up paddling needs more of- he's a courteous stand up paddler, understanding where and when stand up surfing fits in the lineup. We chatted for a few minutes about paddle surfing and before you know it, we were setting up a little excursion out to the point.

First of all, if you think you'll find this place- forget it. You'll need a guide. The spot is at the end of a maze of twisty dirt roads and the launch is a tiny little, jungle covered beach. Once we got there, I was kind of blown away. A quarter mile out and tucked into the lee of a little point is a reef/point setup with a right hand peeler that heaves up and wraps for about two or three hundred yards. We launched off the beach and made the paddle, it was one of those kind of places where it looks smaller than it really is. Once you're there, you realize that the wave packs a punch and being out on an open water reef, there's a lot of water moving around, it's definitely not a beginner spot.

It was a challenging wave with a jacking take-off section. It was large enough that we were dodging clean up waves that would surprise us by breaking outside of what we thought was clear water. Most of the best ones went unridden. It was just a matter of determining how much of it you really wanted to take on. Honestly, if I had a more robust set of cojones, I would have paddled farther up the point and snagged some of the double overhead wedges that were bulldogging through up there. As it was, I was happy enough swooping into the overhead walls that were charging down the line. Believe me, even at mid-point, the waves had enough grunt in them to kick your ass. And that place inflicted some damage, my leash snapped like a piece of peanut brittle. I made a fifty yard swim for it and knotted a bowline into the broken leash, hoping it would hold for the rest of the session.

Steve charged the place- he told me he most often surfs it alone since he can't find anyone to go out there with him. Heavy. And, he said, the day we surfed it was about a 5 on the 1 - 10 scale. Days ranking 7 and 8 are typical with a few 9s tossed in every month. He commonly scores it completely glassed out, head high and peeling- a regular footed surfers dream. We surfed a few screamers but eventually the spot gnawed through Steve's leash too and slapped a semi-concussion on my girl friend Liza's head (she was charging it- dropping into a legit double overhead macker and getting swallowed up- read about it at we decided to quit before we really screwed something up.

What a day of surfing! Photos coming.

1 comment: said...

Is Nelson still at Coconut Harry's? We met him during a trip in Nicaragua and stopped by the shop on our last visit. Glad to here Steve is surfing SUP.