General Surf Camp FAQs

What is the weather like in Montezuma?

Montezuma is one of the driest tropical climates in Costa Rica, with temperatures ranging from the low 80’s to low 90’s. The rainy season, also called the “green season,” typically lasts from May-November and is marked by afternoon thunderstorms. Everything is lush and green during green season, and this is the time of year we usually see bigger swells. December-April are Costa Rica’s dry season, with March and April generally the hottest months of the year.

You can check the local forecast here: www.accuweather.com

What are the surf conditions like?

One of the reasons we love surfing here on the Nicoya Peninsula is because we have access to lots of excellent breaks for all abilities, and the Nicoya is renowned for having some of the most consistent surf in the world! Every morning, we get up bright and early to check the conditions and choose the perfect break. In addition to online forecasts like Magic Seaweed, we call our friends living along the beach for real time reports on the conditions. (Don’t worry if you can’t read a surf forecast…we’ll teach you at camp). Some days, we will walk to down to Playa Grande, others we will load up and head over to Playa Hermosa or Cedros. Don’t worry, no matter your ability level, there are always great waves on the Nicoya!

Visit our Location and Breaks page for more info.

Are the conditions safe for kids?

Absolutely. The beach breaks have sandy bottoms and the gentle slope of the beach means kids are able to surf white water waves without ever going over their heads. We’ve had kids as young as 4 years old out there having a blast! We also staff kids with two instructors per child—one to walk them out into the waves, and the other to “catch” both the kid and the surfboard. We teach all of our guests basic safety hand signals and always have our internationally certified lifeguards at the break. Our coaches are very tuned into kids energy levels and will encourage lots of snack and water breaks to make sure everyone is happy. Of course, if you already have a little ripper, there’s a lot of challenging surf here too.

What is the food like at the camp?

Our focus is on healthy, fresh and delicious food. All meals are included at camp (except on the nights we eat at restaurants), and will always include lots of fresh, local fruit and vegetables. We are more than happy to accommodate any dietary requests (gluten free, vegetarian). We’ll also point out our favorite spots around town—including smoothies at Organico and dinner at Las Artistas. Our fitness director writes about the Bounty of the Land and the meals at Peaks n’ Swells in this blog post: Bounty of the Land.

What if I have a very picky eater?

If you’re reading about all the fresh fruit and vegetables and thinking, “my kid is going to starve,” don’t worry! We will serve at least one “kid-friendly” option (plain pasta, white rice) with each meal if there are picky eaters at camp, and plan for muffins and energy bars at the beach. The villas also have kitchens, and you can buy staples such as bread, peanut butter, jelly, and yogurt at the local market. Many parents have been surprised, however, to see their very discriminating eaters fall in love with fried plantain and fresh mango!

Is there WiFi?

Yes, absolutely.

Can I bring my own board?

Yes! If you have a surfboard and would like to bring it, we recommend you do. We provide boards but it is always preferable to have a board you are familiar with, if you have one. Be sure to check with the airline first as most charge a fee to bring your board.

What if I need a doctor?

The health care in Costa Rica is excellent and there are clinics nearby most of the surf breaks. We have internationally certified lifeguards on staff at all surf sessions. All of our surf coaches are internationally certified to the highest. We also have two people trained in wilderness first response first aid, the equivalency of treating someone in the backcountry.

Travel FAQs

Getting Here

International Flights

Costa Rica has two major airports, Juan Santa Maria International Airport in San Jose (SJO) and Liberia (LIR). San Jose is much closer to Montezuma and your best bet for getting to Peaks n’ Swells. All major airlines fly into San Jose. You must have a passport that is valid at least six months past your travel date to travel to Costa Rica.

Domestic Flights

From San Jose, you will need to take a short flight to Tambor. There are two domestic airlines that fly into Tambor, Sansa and Nature Air. Both have limited daily flights to Tambor, so we recommend that you search these flights first and then work backwards to plan your international flight to San Jose.

Transfer from Tambor

Once you arrive in Tambor, we will pick you up and you won’t need to worry about transportation again until you fly home.

Overnight Layover in San Jose

If an overnight layover is required in San Jose, we recommend the following hotels:

Hotel Aeropuerto This is where we stay and most of our guests find perfect for a quick overnight stay and breakfast. It is run by a Costa Rican family and has more of an authentic feel than the others listed.

Courtyard Marriott, San Jose Airport Alajuela

Xandar Resort & Spa

For longer stays in San Jose, we like Hotel Alta in Escazu and Hotel Grano de Oro.

Renting a car

Renting a car in San Jose and driving to Peaks n’ Swells is also an option, but if you are coming for less than two weeks we highly recommend flying. The roads in Costa Rica are notoriously rough, and the drive from San Jose to camp can take five hours. Plus, we provide all transportation to surf breaks, and the town of Montezuma is a short 10 minute walk from camp, so you really don’t need a car once you arrive.

Taxis and Shuttles

If you prefer not to fly from San Jose, you can also choose to hire a taxi or take the shuttle to Montezuma. Gilberto is our favorite taxi driver and can be reached at 8826 9055. Montezuma Expeditions and Interbus are good shuttle options.

Airport Fees + Documentation

In addition to your passport, you will need a copy of your return flight itinerary for the customs agent in San Jose as proof that you will not be staying longer than the allowed time. All visitors are also required to pay an airport tax of about $25.00 USD per person upon departure.

Cash, ATMs, and Credit Cards

The Costa Rican currency is Colones. American dollars are also accepted in many places. You can exchange money at the airport, or once you arrive in Montezuma.

There are ATMs in Montezuma and some of the other surf towns we travel to, but we recommend bringing cash with you. As our camps are all inclusive, you will only need cash for travel, meals out at restaurants, souvenirs, and tips.

Credit cards are accepted in most places, but local businesses will charge an extra fee of up to 12%. Cash is always your best bet in Costa Rica.

Tipping

Tipping is discretionary, but we like to mention it in advance so that our guests can plan appropriately. In addition to tipping the surf coaches, many of our guests like to tip Gitza, our amazing breakfast chef who also provides housekeeping services, and her sons Josie and Darwin who work with us everyday to make sure the camps run smoothly. They are a wonderful family living on the property and even small gestures are greatly appreciated. Tipping at restaurants is also discretionary but customary.

Medical Information

Medical Care in Costa Rica

The health care in Costa Rica is excellent and there are clinics nearby most of the surf breaks. All of our surf coaches are internationally certified to the highest. We also have two people trained in wilderness first response first aid, the equivalency of treating someone in the backcountry.

Vaccinations

In general, no extra vaccinations are required for travel in Costa Rica. However, we recommend that you check the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website for the most up to date recommendations, and discuss your trip with your physician to be sure you and your children are current on all standard vaccinations. Please make sure you are up to date on your tetanus shot.

Medical Insurance Information

Make sure your medical insurance policy covers you while in Costa Rica. If not, overseas medical insurance is required. A company that sells overseas insurance is Travel Guard International at 877-216-4885.

Liability Release Waiver

Upon arrival at Peaks ‘n Swells you will be asked to sign the liability release waiver. Remember you are ultimately responsible for your actions. Surf camp offers risks like any activity. Peaks ‘n Swells operates in Costa Rica and everyone should recognize that safety measures in general may be different than their own country and therefore each person should be aware and responsible of the environment. We take your safety as our number one priority.

Emergency Contact Numbers

Surf Camp Phone: 506 2 642 0067

Alternate: 506 2 642 0296 (Primarily Spanish spoken on this line.)

Getting Ready for your Surf Trip!

Any tips for getting in shape before my trip?

Yes! Surfing is a full body workout, yet the core stability is the essence of initiating a good ride. Many of us coming from mountain biking, skiing, and other more northern sports have strong legs and balance, but do not challenge the core and upper body as much. This is one of the main reasons we incorporate the yoga sessions into the day- to balance out the newly worked muscles and reinforce the core. If you want to prep the other muscles a bit so you can stay out in the water longer and improve faster, our fitness director is full of great conditioning tips. Take a look at her blog post, Six Things to Incorporate Into Your Workouts to Improve Surfing.

If you want to prep the other muscles a bit so you can stay out in the water longer and improve faster, here are a few suggested moves: Swimming, lower back lifts on stability ball, plank, pushups, pop ups, yoga.

There are also some good surf ready workout plans out there too.
Check out:
Taylor Knox Surf Workouts
Surf Stronger Workouts and Tips
Surf Girl Mag’s Training Program

What to Pack? Our suggested list.

  • Bathing suits ( halter tops may make your neck tired, try to bring one other type as well)
  • Rash guard (seams can rub you, it’s good to have 2)
  • Board shorts (bring at least 2 in case seams rub)
  • Extra pair of Sunglasses
  • Flip flops!
  • Aqua socks for walking out on the reef break. You can usually purchase these in town if we end up heading to the reef break for surfing for $17.
  • Sunscreen with Zinc, sunscreen stick for in water application. The stick form you can shove in your pocket for applying in the water. SOL sunscreen works really well. Peaks n Swells has SOL SUNGUARD available for purchase because we absolutely believe it is the best sunscreen out there.
  • Ear plugs for surfing- if you are prone to ear infections
  • Hats for sun. If you are coming in March and April, you may want to consider the floppy bucket hat with chin strap for surfing. The sun is strong this time of year.  It is possible to buy these hats once you get here.
  • Flashlight or Headlamp
  • jump drive/ memory stick to take home photos or bring your laptop to transfer images. There can be more than 4 gb at certain sessions, so 2 memory sticks are good.
  • Shorts/tank tops
  • Shoes for hiking
  • Sandals for hiking to break- chaco types that stay on your feet for hiking trails
  • Comfortable shorts and top for yoga
  • Jeans for horseback riding
  • Jacket and pants for cooler weather in San Jose
  • Wet-dry bag or little bag to bring to break
  • Spanish phrase book
  • Camera
  • Good Book
  • Copy of Passport, Health Insurance Policy and Credit Card
    In the event that we have to take you to the clinic for an injury, it is important that we have a copy of your passport, health insurance and credit card (in case of flight emergency). We keep these in the first aid kit that we carry with us to all the surf breaks. (We also suggest that you have copies in your wallet as a back up).