Here is a quick guide to Esterillos, Costa Rica for those that want to escape the New York freeze, veg out, surf, and have little to spend. Esterillos, about 20 minutes south of Jaco on the West Coast, is split up into three sections…Oeste, Centro and Este. It’s a quieter area, away from the bustle of Jaco, with a few good surf spots.
What to pack (girls):
Depends on the airline fees for bringing boards, but if the fee isn’t bad bring boards and pack your clothes in with the boards. On my list: Minimal clothing, Calavera body rash guard, Mi Ola Cheeky Bottoms, retro backpack from Patagonia Bowery, Loomstate Vneck, Samudra bag, East Surf Co wax, NYC Urchin shark tooth necklace, lotion, Spanish dictionary and In the Heart of the Sea. Bring an old go-phone to plug a SIM card into. Pick up Colones from an ATM, but USD are pretty much accepted everywhere if you run out.
Where to stay:
For more people, little restaurants, surf shops and a nice beginner reef break stay in Oeste. Though a quiet little neighborhood (at least in the off season), there seems to always be people buzzing around, toothless man selling coconuts, mellow dogs of all breeds standing in front of your car, expats sipping Imperials at the bar and bathing in the delight of their new residence. Centro, 5 minutes down the road, is more residential and quieter, but the beach break there is bigger than Oeste…more of a local surf spot that gets busy on the weekends. Either way, rent a car so you can explore all breaks and get into Jaco if you want to people watch other Americans and find a drugstore for the new ailment you’ll likely pick up. We stayed here in Centro, walking distance from the break, the salamanders and ants included!
Where to rent boards:
We rented boards from a super nice American that opened up a “surf shop” called Brett’s Boards. Boards are pretty downtrodden, but for $90 you can try any of the boards for a week. He gave us some super helpful tips (surf is good 3 hours before and after high tide, the channel is lined up with the brown door of the yellow house, the rocks that will break your fins are on either sides of the green house, and if you see the crocodile it’s too late).
This photo was taken by expat Pat, a congenial spirit you’ll meet on the beach – check out her blog.
This is how a coconut sprouts!
Stay hydrated and drink lots of Imperials. Surf until your arms almost fall off (before you realize it you will be back in NY with no waves). Volunteer helping release baby sea turtles into the ocean – it’s the season! Explore nearby towns without doing the super touristy zipline tour. Never leave anything in your car.