In 2006 I arrived in Tamarindo Costa Rica for five weeks of Spanish immersion, surfing and adventure. I had previously taken a short vacation to Costa Rica the year before and my last stop was Tamarindo so I thought it would be a good place to start out. After three years of selling real estate during the boom in Oregon I was ready for a break and eager to learn Spanish. I was planning to move to California and most people I had talked to told me that learning Spanish would be well worth the time and effort. Several people including a school teacher had suggested an immersion program as the best way to learn the language quickly.
When Monday morning came my host mother showed me to the bus stop where I was met by the bus that took me to the school. When I got there I was asked to take a short exam to determine my level of Spanish then at 8:00 it was off to classes for everyone. I soon discovered there were people there from many different countries and walks of life, most of them were college students finishing up summer break and getting ready to head back to the states. There were also some people like me in their thirty’s who were really enjoying life. Our classes went from 8:00 until 12:00 with a 20 minute break for coffee and cookies and of course talking about surfing conditions and how great it was the day before. The Spanish classes were made up of about 4 to 5 students each and the instruction was only in Spanish. This takes some getting used to, but I am convinced it is the best way to learn and it sure helps if you have a basic understanding of Spanish verbs. Every day I would practice what I had learned with my host family. They were very willing to help me and it was always fun working on my home work with them.
After Classes everyone usually went to one of the local sodas for some good food and conversation then it was off to the beach to catch a wave, some rays or just relax. I began my surfing adventure by renting a board and trying it on my own, but I soon discovered it was a lot harder than it looks and some lessons might not be a bad idea. So I signed up for a couple weeks for lessons which was a good investment. I was shown things like how to read the waves, safety, surf etiquette, and most important how to get up on the board and actually surf. Most everyone is able to get up the first day.
I still think about my time in Tamarindo. It was way too short it and has to be one of the best periods in my life. My days were filled with learning, meeting people from all over the world, surfing, and spending time with my host family. I took many weekend trips to some incredible spots. One weekend I went to Arenal Volcano and a couple of the hot springs around it. During the week we were always planning our next trip. There are so many options for adventure like zip lining in the cloud forest of Monteverde; what an adrenaline rush! I still remember racing along high above the canopy trying not to look down, wow. I spent a total of four months in Costa Rica learning Spanish and traveling. I returned again in the fall of 2007 and spent a couple more months studying and lived there for over a year. Learning Spanish has changed my life in so many ways. I have met so many wonderful people and learned about their culture. The best thing to come out of it was meeting my Costa Rican wife, we recently celebrated our 2nd anniversary.
Learn Spanish and Surf was started in 2007 after returning to the states. I just could not stop thinking about my time in Costa Rica. While in Tamarindo I met and became friends with Hugh who is the owner of one of the schools there and along with his wife Sonia are the directors. Hugh, who is originally from L.A., has worked in the language business for many years and really knows what he is doing, we had a conversation about me getting in the business also. I called Hugh and told him I was thinking about a website that would specialize in Spanish immersion programs at some of the best surfing beaches Costa Rica has to offer. Learn Spanish and Surf was born.
I started out representing schools only in Costa Rica, but after several students told me they were going to Ecuador to study I decided it was time to offer students options there also.
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Learn Spanish and Surf offers programs at the following locations in Costa Rica:
Playa Tamarindo is located in the providence of Guanacaste on the Pacific coast, it is known as the surfing capital of Costa Rica. With spectacular beaches, near perfect weather and laid back atmosphere it attracts sun seekers, adventurers and surfers from all over the world. Our school is located in the heart of Tamarindo with everything in the town (including the beach) just a short walk away. Surfing conditions are near perfect for the experienced and the novice. Some other beaches close by with great surfing are Playa Langosta, Playa Grande, Playa Avellanas, and Witch’s Rock. None of these locations are more than 30-45 minutes away from Playa Tamarindo.
Playa Jaco is located in the province of Puntarenas less than two hours away from the international airport in San Jose. It is one of the most visited beaches in Costa Rica, and enjoys constant
swells year around making it a surfing destination for people from all over the world. For the outdoor adventurer there are many activities and excursions for you to enjoy in and around Playa Jaco, including: Surfing, Sport Fishing, Sea Kayaking, Canopy Tours, National Parks, River Rafting and the Arenal Volcano. There are many reasons people visit Jaco but the number one reason has to be the surfing. Jaco is a great place for the beginner and for the more experienced surfer. It is located right next to Playa Hermosa, which in 2009 hosted the ISA World Surfing Games, it has steady 4 to 8 foot high waves and average water temperature around 80 degrees. Our school is located in Jaco only a short walk from the beach and the center of town.
Coronado is located in the province of San Jose. The school is a special place to learn Spanish located in an old farm house that is surrounded by beautiful tropical gardens overlooking the Central Valley and San Jose. We offer this option for students who prefer a mountain location and want to be close to the city. Coronado provides you with all the advantages of a clean natural area, and at the same time it gives you the opportunity to enjoy the cultural activities of the capital city. The metro area of San Jose is located only 10 KM from the school and offers you a true Spanish immersion experience. You will have endless opportunities to practice your Spanish with friendly “Ticos”. San Jose is located in the beautiful Central Valley and is surrounded by majestic volcanic mountains.
We also now offer programs in Ecuador, a wonderful year round travel destination and for its size it offers an incredible amount of diversity. It is a nature lover’s dream, with exotic orchids and birds, bizarre jungle plants, strange insects, windswept grasslands, dripping tropical forests and many exotic animals that will amaze you. The people of Ecuador are honest, warm and eager to help you learn Spanish. Ecuadorians love welcoming foreigners to their country and you will not only learn Spanish but also about their culture and way of life. We offer programs in two excellent locations: Montanita for surfing and Manta for Kite surfing. These two locations are recognized as the best in Ecuador.
Manta is located on the Pacific coast in the province of Manabi. It is a very important port city featuring a temporal climate with an average annual temperature of 77 degrees. Whatever your taste it has something to offer. You could stroll along the boardwalk that has many restaurants offering local culinary specialties or take in a show at the Chusig Theater and if you happen to be there in
October be sure and take in the International theater festival also located at the Chusig Theater.
The Manta Area is known for Kite surfing because of large beaches and excellent wind conditions. Iit was recently selected as the site of the sixth South American wind surfing championships. The programs we offer include: Medical Spanish, Traveling classroom, Ecological Volunteer, Kitesurfing, Surfing, Private and group Spanish classes.
Montanita is located on the Pacific coast in the Guayas province. It is known to be a surfing Mecca with warm water and consistently strong waves. It is no wonder it draws competitors from as far away as Australia and Hawaii to compete in surfing competitions hosted throughout the year. For the beginner it is a great place to learn how to surf. At low tide the waves are very manageable and for the more advanced surfer there are bigger more powerful waves at high tide and the closer you get to the point the bigger the wave sets are. In 2009 the school was named one of the top
five language schools in the world by the STAR Awards for the excellent performance by its professors, the beautiful location of the school on the beach in Montanita and all of the exciting extra-curricular activities nearby!
Our student comments have been great, here are a couple below.
How did you like Tamarindo?
It was amazing! Thank you so much for all of the pre-trip help. I had a wonderful time, and I would recommend the program to anyone who asked. I certainly plan on returning to Costa Rica in the future.
How did you like Montanita?
I loved it. The people were great, the courses were challenging and the town was a tone of fun: it was exactly what I expected.
One week is simply not enough.
How did you like Montanita?
I like it a lot. Even more than I expected. Thanks for your help getting everything set up.