Kelly’s Surf Shop: A Day on the Waves of Tamarindo, Costa Rica

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

-Jon Kabat-Zinn-

Situated along the North Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, lies a beach town with a vibe of surf and soul, a place of fire dancers and flip flops, body boards and open air patios with a view.  It is a place to set your eyes on an expansive horizon, build a sandcastle, peruse local shops, practice yoga, and be serenaded by a mariachi band.  We flowed with the tourists of the day, and strolled the streets in the vibrancy of the evening, enjoying the laid back atmosphere that comes naturally to a seaside town known for food, nightlife and surf culture.

One of the most accessible and well known beaches in the province of Guanacaste, this haven of sand and waves is the place to feel like a tourist and a tico all in the same breath.  With easy access from both San Jose and Liberia International airports, a wide array of accommodations and a bustling main street, Tamarindo is a place to bask in the glowing warmth of morning and enjoy a spectacular sunset as you cheers the fortune of dusk. This is Pura Vida. 


With consistent swells and offshore winds making this stretch of coastline a year round hot spot, Tamarindo is also the perfect place to check surfing off your wish list.  When offered the chance for our family to hit the beach for a lesson with Kelly’s Surf Shop, we jumped at the chance!  A main street staple for over a decade, most of the instructors at Kelly’s have at one time been ranked within the top 10 professional surfers in Costa Rica.  Fluent in English and Spanish, the instructors are not only patient, they have a sense of humor paired with a desire to pass along their knowledge and passion to those eager to learn.  With packages that range from private and semi-private to group lessons and complete retreats, there is a class and a level to suit all ranges of age and ability.

Our day began with a smile as our surf instructor, José, welcomed us.  After signing the required waivers, we suited up in rash guards, protective shirts provided by Kelly’s, as they picked out suitable boards for each of us.  We then carried our boards to the beach, conveniently across the street from the shop.

** Kelly’s Surf Shop has parking available on site, as well as lockers for your valuables.  Bring a swimsuit, towel and sunscreen.

Kelly's Surf Shop, Tamarindo, Costa Rica


Our lesson began on the sand, learning the necessary skills we would need to stand up.  We mock-paddled and learned proper body and foot placement, José giving the girls an official balance test that left them giggling, but ready.  A surf lesson, especially for beginners, not only enhances the experience by giving you the techniques to be successful, it is a lesson in doing it all as safely as possible.


After we had mastered our skills on the sand, it was time to take them to the water!  All lessons are planned based on current tide and ocean conditions, and our early morning private lesson meant gentle waves, perfect for beginners such as our family.  It also meant plenty of space to make our attempt at surf life, the beach not yet inhabited by flocks of tourists.  With the sun shining in a brilliant blue sky, the ocean lapping at our feet and radiant smiles plastered on the girls faces, I felt my soul completely settle into the beauty of the moment.


They tell me kids have the easiest time learning to surf.  It has to be true, because Little B not only got up her first time, but nearly every single time after that! Miss Teenage B also enjoyed her morning as she rode wave after wave into shore.  José was an expert at picking the perfect waves to make their day a success and help build their confidence, always ensuring to help Littlest B maneuver her board back out as she tirelessly embraced her inner surfer.


Not only was surfing a wish list experience, it was that perfect day of authentic connection we continually seek.  Any challenge, especially one in nature, seems to be where we thrive.  We love to cheer each other on, laugh at our faults and discover hidden passions as we expose ourselves to a new adventure.  These experiences are all opportunities for bonding and growth, and surfing was a chance to expand our vault of uniquely precious family memories.

“While we try to teach our children about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”

-Angela Schwindt –


Kelly’s Surf Shop not only gives the ultimate surf lesson, they rent a variety of equipment including surf and stand up paddle boards, kayaks, snorkeling equipment, bikes and body boards.  Body boarding is one of our all time favorite ocean activities, so the convenience of renting a couple for the afternoon after our lesson was the perfect way to finish off our beach day.

**The surfing portion of our experience was courtesy of the amazing folks at Kelly’s Surf Shop, but the opinions and words are, as always, my own.

To Jesslyn and Sebastian; For giving our family this day of authentic connection.  For the moments we got to relish in the smiles on our daughters faces as they rode a wave to shore, for the laughter as our family made memories on this renowned stretches of sand, and for giving us a chance to enjoy a new challenge and create incredible new memories together. Thank you.






Read it? Loved it? Share it!

16 thoughts on “Kelly’s Surf Shop: A Day on the Waves of Tamarindo, Costa Rica

  1. I have try to surf so many time in Australia but after been swallowing atleast 10l of seawater I kind if gave up! I blame it on my age (37!) But if we ever pass by Costa Rica I would contact Kelly’s surf shop for sure to give the surfing another try!

  2. I’ve never really fancied surfing before, but this really sold it to me! And your children look like they had a blast 🙂
    Lovely pictures too, the colours are gorgeous!

  3. I haven’t surfed for ages, but I remember what a hard time I had on anything but a longboard when I did it. Surfing is a physical activity, and although my buddies tried to help me, I could have used some lessons back then. Sounds like you found a good place.

    1. Yes, the beginner boards are definitely longer!! And it is super physical, we were exhausted after our lesson, but the challenge is so fulfilling. Costa Rica was the perfect place for the girls to try it out, nice and calm, and the locals are so amazing!

  4. Surfing in Costa Rica was my favourite surfing experience. We just had a private lesson on Maui, and definitely benefited, so I would recommend it. Having personal instruction makes such a difference.

  5. This sounds like so much fun with kids, I am Australian and I know that I would love my kids to do this when I have some. A Day on the Waves of Tamarindo, Costa Rica sounds amazing, I have not been to that part of the world before but I have always wanted to.. I can see why province of Guanacaste is the place to feel like a tourist and a tico all in the same breath.

Leave a Reply