Surfing Around the World at Age 50

Surf camp founder surfing in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
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Surfing Around the World at Age 50

Makeover shows, before and after pictures, Bob Ross painting a landscape from start to finish—who doesn’t love these type of transformation stories? It’s uplifting and encouraging to watch a beautiful thing bloom before your very eyes.

Which is why we’re super excited about our “Pura Vida Transformation” blog series, where we talk to PVA peeps far and wide who have been changed by Costa Rica, surfing, and the power of the ocean.

So far we’ve checked in with Rebecca and Sara, two surfers who credit learning to surf with getting them “un-stuck” in their lives and moving them onward to their deepest dreams. We’ve also told the epic transformation story of our founder and CEO, Tierza, who escaped the daily grind of the tech industry and found her soul’s purpose in the warm ocean waves of Mal Pais.

“That’s good for them,” you might have been thinking, “but I can’t uproot my entire life to move to tropical paradise!”

Never fear. Even though these women ended up moving to Costa Rica full-time, take our word for it:  you DON’T have to drastically change your life to feel the transformative impact of surfing!

Don’t believe us?

Helen Ringler Perez is a surf school alum who came to Pura Vida Adventures at age 50 with zero surfing experience. She had always loved the ocean and felt drawn to our surf and yoga retreat for monthsfinally convincing her husband Mike to come along for the ride (Dr. “Mai Tai” Mike deserves a blog of his own, but we’ll have to save that for another time!).


The pair had such a great time at our coed retreat that they’ve come back FOUR times, brought their family along, and Helen even traveled solo to ride the waves on our new Bali adventure. 

“Honestly,” says Helen, “I had planned my own travel so much when I was single, but I had forgotten how empowering it feels to do that! I think, being married, you sort of let certain things stagnate because your partner is so good at that thing–so I got used to Mike planning our trips. And I realized when I booked that first Pura Vida camp I felt that excitement. It felt so good to say ‘I want to do this.’ To pick something for me, to make it happen.”


And the benefits of learning to surf have gone far beyond just planning travel.  

“My experience has been that the ocean gives you what you need and not necessarily what you want. In 2014, I received encouragement, 2015 – confidence, 2016 – humility, 2017 – acceptance,” Helen says. “But every single time I have met amazing people and had so much fun. The warmth and enthusiasm are contagious.”

In 2019, we were beyond stoked to witness Helen on the waves again, this time at the world-class surf destination of Bali. It was an absolute joy to host her at our brand new coed Bali retreat.

Taking a boat to the surf in Bali

Chasing waves in Bali with instructor Victoria


Helen’s progression since day one has been downright amazing, and we adore how this ocean goddess has let nothing hold her back in the pursuit of her surfing dreams, which she says has been “liberating.”



And the freedom and self-empowerment of surfing continues to call. “My only regret is that I did not do this earlier,” she said.



Curious about learning to surf as a beginner? Read more of Helen’s story HERE.


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