Surfing at 70: “If I can, well, why not YOU?”

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September 16, 2015

Surfing at 70: “If I can, well, why not YOU?”

Can you imagine learning to Surf at the age of 70? Does it seem like an impossible goal? If you had told Pura Vida Adventures alumni Brennis as a child that she would be surfing as an adult, she might have thought it impossible too.

“I’m so old they didn’t have gym for girls when I went to school,” she told us in an email.  “Only the boys got to play sports and be active.”

Bren’s love of sports began in her 30’s, when she started playing soccer on a women’s team. Soccer led to marathons, scuba diving, rock climbing, snowboarding, skiing, cycling, and, finally, to surfing.


Although Bren felt that at age 70 she was “not the typical surf student,” she decided to answer the call of her dream to learn how to surf.

Following her life mantras of “If you don’t use it, you lose it” and “You can keep on doing what you keep on doing,” Bren came to Malpais eager to add a new athletic adventure to her long list!

While she claims she was prepared to return home without ever catching a wave, Bren stood up on her second day and was riding like a champ throughout the week.

She was hooked.


But what she found in Malpais was even more than the love of a new sport: it was greater confidence to meet new endeavors, regardless of age or what other people, or even her own fears, may deem “possible.”

When I feel like I may be too old to try something new,” Bren says, “I recall the exhilaration of the power of the wave beneath my board. I remember the many people who said, ‘Isn’t it too late?,’ when I told them I was going to a surf camp. I often say to myself, ‘If you could learn to surf, you can do THIS, whatever the THIS might be!’ ” 

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Bren has lived a life full of athletic success and credits her new passion, surfing, as a continual reminder to keep growing.  She says: “Surfing is a constant that I call on to motivate myself to live life fully, to be open to new experiences, and not to be afraid to try something new, even if is out of the ordinary.”


We did a Q and A with Bren on everything from her preparation for camp to her favorite Costa Rican smoothie to her words of wisdom. Read on below for more details on this amazing woman’s surf adventure. 


You say you were concerned about not being the “typical surf student.” Did you do anything to prepare for coming to camp?

“Not really, but I became more diligent about my yoga practice to increase, or at least maintain flexibility and strength, and I continued to hike or cycle 5 days a week for fitness and endurance.”

Was surfing harder or easier than you expected?

“Surprisingly, it was much easier than I had expected, but that was due to Helen’s excellent surf instruction.  Truthfully, I was prepared to return home without ever catching a wave, but it was a very successful week and I was up on the second day!”

What was your favorite thing about Costa Rica?

“I don’t think I can list just one favorite thing.  The hotel was beautiful, the landscape was spectacular, the food healthful and delicious, and each Tico we met was gracious and friendly, as were the PVA crew.”

Did you have a favorite food you ate while there? 

“Every seafood dish was fresh and delicious, and I haven’t had a fruit smoothie since that comes close to those in Costa Rica.  I must mention the frozen mint mojito, which was the best ever!”

Can you describe your first time standing on the surfboard? 

“It was exhilarating to feel the power of the ocean propelling me forward. I’m unable to find the words to capture the sensation, but it was thrilling:  the rush of rushes!!”

What would you tell someone who was anxious about learning to surf?

“I would say several things:  Pura Vida Adventures is the perfect camp for learning to surf; the beaches are ideally suited for beginners. The surf instruction is well-structured, methodical, and easy to follow.  As a seventy- year old, I was not the typical surf-school student, but I had the time of my life and learned to surf, which is something that I had wanted to do for many, many years.  If I could do it, well, why not you?”

Who was your instructor and how did she/he help you? Did you have a favorite piece of advice they gave you? 

“I had only one instructor, Helen. She gave clear instruction, was supportive and encouraging, and made me feel safe.  I will forever be grateful to her and to Pura Vida Adventures for one of the most empowering weeks of my life.”

Do you have any favorite specific memories from your time with Pura Vida Adventures? 

“My week at PVA was a week of bliss and a peak experience.  I accomplished a significant personal milestone with a supportive and inclusive staff in an environment of stunning beauty.  I remember starting each day in the beautiful yoga pavilion overlooking the beach. At the end of each yoga session, I felt centered, flexible and strong, and ready for the day.  A most delectable breakfast with the friendly and gregarious PVA staff and other surf students followed.  What could be a better start to a day in paradise?”

“Surfing has displaced rock climbing as my favorite sport; surfing, too, requires bit of strength, some agility, balance, and mental focus. Nothing else is required other than oneself, a board, a good wave, and a positive attitude.”


  1. Whitney Lee says:

    Absolutely fantastic! Pure Vida is the perfect place to learn how to surf with the best instructors around! <3

  2. Nancy Rahr says:

    I am 59, this is very inspirational! Know of any good over 50 immersion programs closer to home, I live in Maui now.

    • Tierza says:

      I am glad that you enjoyed the story. Bren is definitely an inspiration and I love her mottoes as well. I don’t know of any programs in Maui, but it is such a surf mecca I bet if you asked around or went to a surf shop they could help you out. Good luck and if you ever one to come to Costa Rica, we would love to have you. Pura Vida!

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