Planning a surf trip? Just remember: keep it frugal. The experience of surfing an epic alien break creates more than enough serotonin. Some people, including myself at times have thought that going “big” during a surf trip will only add to the thrill of the trip. For myself, I always thought the word SPLURGE was an exciting, and necessary part of going on a surf trip.
Saving money on lodging and food can become crucial considering how much money you will spend traveling to that dream destination. First, you need to get there. Plane ticket prices will vary wildly depending on distance, high season, and availability. Plane tickets can range from $500 to $3,000 for places like Indonesia. Let’s say I wanted to go to Costa Rica from Los Angeles, and an average ticket would cost around $600. The next expense will be your surfboards. Airlines charge an average of $75 per board each way. Costa Rica being a destination with many different surfing conditions and scenarios, you will want to have multiple boards for the different waves. So three boards at $75 per board equals $225 each way. It is very common for a surfer to buy a few boards before a big surf trip. Newer boards are naturally stronger than used boards as they haven’t experienced the wear and tear of a used board, as well as the exposure to salt water and sun. For example, on my first trip to the North Shore of Oahu, I purchased three boards at $500 per board even with my local discount. That hypothetical Costa Rica trip as of right now with plane ticket and board fees (round trip) would be at $1,050. Lets add two brand new surfboards at $500 a pop, because every surfer knows the feeling of going on a trip with old gear, and that gear failing mid trip. I am now at $2,050 before I’ve even left the airport!
Every surfer feels that initial feeling after landing at his or her destination airport no matter how far you have to travel to get to where you will be staying. It’s a rush to feel that warm tropical air and know you will be taking in new sights, smells, foods, and most of all riding warm waves in boardshorts for the next few weeks (months if you’re lucky).
At the airport, your frugality meter should start weighing options to get to your lodging.
In Costa Rica there are three options
Option 1 and most convenient is a rental car. In my opinion, having money in your budget for a rental car is a priority. You do not want to find yourself at the surf destination of your dreams, and realize you are limited to a break out front of where you are staying and there are no waves there. When you are on a trip like this, and the waves are flat in your area, but good two hours up the coast, you go find the waves. This is where a rental car is crucial.
Option 2 in Costa Rica is the Tica Bus. The Tica Bus is a bus that travels the coast of Central America stopping at every town and beach area along the way. This option is the cheapest, and has its benefits. You can buy a pass, and get on the bus in Panama, and take it all the way up to the southern border of Mexico. You can stop and stay in different surf areas like La Libertad, El Salvador, Popoya, Nicaragua, and Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica.
Option 3 and least recommended is a taxi. This is the most expensive way, and the driver will probably rip you off.
A place to lay your head…
There are many cozy, affordable places to stay in a surf destination. My advice is to reserve a place you found online for your first night, and go look for a cheaper place that you can inspect for yourself when you are there. The reason behind this strategy is because places you find online tend to be more expensive due to the fact that many places in smaller countries and little beach areas just don’t advertise online. Most travelers like to have their lodging planned before arriving, but those online options aren’t all the area actually has to offer. When on a surf trip the main goal is to surf as much as possible. Having a clean place to lay your head with indoor plumbing, and hot water to share with the woman you love is all you need to have an epic trip. Remember that when you are about to hit the book button for an all-inclusive resort and save your money for all of the other experiences your destination will have to offer.
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