Costa Rica Surf Camp Essentials

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 3.44.56 PMSo you’ve booked yourself a plane ticket, you’re headed to a Costa Rica surf camp and you can’t figure out what exactly you need to take on your trip.  Beyond the obvious items such as a current passport, clothes, toiletries and money, we have tried to come up with a few items that you might not come to mind.

Any saavy traveler will tell you that less is more when it comes to packing.  How many times have you packed your suitcase to the point of exploding, only to use about half of what you brought?  In fact, a good rule of thumb is to pack and then take out about half of what you have packed.  You won’t be wearing much on the beach during the day and evenings here in the land of Pura Vida are very casual.

Below is what I consider a few key essentials to help complete the perfect surf vacation and enhance your Costa Rica surf camp experience.

Effective Sunscreen

You are probably thinking to yourself that sunscreen is a no brainer, and it is.  Here I want to stress the word “effective”.  Being this close to the equator the sun is incredibly intense and can burn you before you even notice you are even getting red.  I try when possible to find a sunscreen with as few ingredients and as natural as possible.  The skin is the largest organ of the body so we don’t want to clog it up with toxic junk!  Pay less attention to the number of the SPF and more to the ingredients and the order in which they are listed.

Look for a sunscreen with coconut oil as the main ingredient, if not the first.  It has the ability to heal the skin and block the possible damage of UV radiation.  A big reason it offers such amazing protection for the skin is its antioxidant properties, which helps to prevent burns and oxidative damage that can lead to skin cancer.  It is great for keeping the skin moist as well.  I don’t recommend using only coconut oil in this extreme tropical sun.  Make sure that your sunscreen includes at least a 30 SPF.

Natural Bug Spray

This is the tropics and you are definitely going to encounter mosquitoes unless you stay inside your room all the time.  You should know that they are the worst around sunset.  That is really the only time of day that I really ever notice them.  Now while you want to prevent getting bit while on vacation, I don’t recommend doing it by applying toxic chemicals to your skin.

If you reach for most well known brands of repellents you can bet that they contain DEET.  This chemical is so toxic that the Environmental Protection Agency says that you should immediately wash it off your skin when you return inside.  You should also not breathe it nor spray it on your face.  Sound like something you want on your skin?  Look for smaller named brands with ingredients such as neem oil, geraniol and citronella oil.  I can personally attest to the effectiveness of citronella oil.  I use it anytime I’m going to be out around sunset and always come home bite free.  The smell is actually pleasant and it’s soft on the skin.  You will probably have better luck bringing a repellent with you than finding it here.

The Right Bikini

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 3.44.22 PMThis one will probably not be what you’re thinking.  I’m not talking about the perfect type of suit for each body type or that must have cut this season.  That would be a little out of my areas of expertise.  What I’m talking about is a bikini that stays put.  However, there are plenty of bikinis out there that are functional yet still cute and in style.  This is especially true now that more and more women are surfing each year.

So what are some aspects of the perfect stay put bikini?  The top needs to be fixed.  Something like a no sliding triangle action is most conducive to little or no movement.  Your best bet for the bottoms is a suit with double side ties, thick and secure elastic sides or a drawstring.  You don’t want to be worrying about your suit coming off or shifting when you should be concentrating on the waves.  If you are a little shy and worried about whether your bikini will stay on, you can always wear a t-shirt over your suit for the first couple of days to make sure.

A Good Book

There is just something about a good book on a beach vacation.  What beats lying on a beach or by the pool with that book that you just haven’t had the time to read?  A good beach read will engage its’ audience and move rather quickly as this is not the setting for heavy reading.  For entertainment think romance, thriller or something smart.  Perhaps bring a soft back to carry to the beach or have by the pool, and maybe a book or two on your tablet.  Books on a tablet come in very handy in case of a power outage at night or for reading in transit. Need some ideas? Check out our Pinterest board of books to take on trips.

Backup Eyewear

This is a topic I never see mentioned but is very important.  If you wear contacts you should bring an extra pair and your glasses.  If you wear primarily glasses bring a second pair as well.  You can more than likely get replacements here in Costa Rica but who wants to spend their time looking for an English speaking optometrist while on vacation?  Having things sent from back home is not practical and can be a very frustrating experience as packages get lost or can be sent to customs.

These are just a few essentials I would suggest for your Costa Rica surf camp experience.  Another practical suggestion would be to bring the actual doctor’s prescriptions for any medication you might be taking.  Other than that, we simply suggest you bring a big smile, a great attitude and a desire to surf.  School of the World will take care of the rest.

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