Yes, You CAN Learn to Surf at 50!

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Yes, You CAN Learn to Surf at 50!

Women over 50 Walking with surfboards at Pura Vida Adventures Surf Camp

At our surf and yoga retreats, we teach all different types of students–from varied backgrounds, athletic abilities, ages, and temperaments–how to experience the freedom and joy of riding the waves.

Yet even though we KNOW, first hand, that surfing is for anyone at any age, we constantly hear from people who think it’s too late for them to learn.

We’ve heard every excuse under the sun, ones like:

“I’m not in shape like I used to be. I’ll wait until I lose 10 pounds, then I can learn.”

“I don’t have time to surf…maybe when my kids move out I’ll visit Costa Rica.” 

“I’m too old. Surfing is for young, fit people.”

HERE’S THE TRUTH: If your soul longs to do something, NOW IS THE TIME.



Ditch the excuses, be brave, come meet some of the coolest friends to add to your community, fill your soul with stoke, and learn to surf with us!

Don’t believe it’s possible? Read on for a first-hand experience from Helen Perez, PVA alumni who started surfing at 51 and become a ripping surfer girl.


Woman 50+ Surfing in Costa Rica at Pura Vida Adventures surf camp


“I’ve always loved the ocean and water, and really enjoyed body surfing as a kid.  I’d see surfers out in the water and for as long as I can remember; I wanted to be out there too.  But the opportunity never presented itself, and years turned into decades.”

Stress was the thing that prompted me to look into learning to surf. Several years ago my 19-year-old daughter was in a very stressful and potentially dangerous situation, she was also challenging barriers to explore the world and defying what others expected of her.  As her mom, I was afraid for her and furious that she wouldn’t listen to the practical me.

On the other hand, I was excited that she was setting her own path and furious with myself for putting my dreams on hold.

I was settling for whatever opportunities “fit into” my family’s schedule. With 4 kids, a husband, and a job – a week normally doesn’t just present itself. I was exhausted and invigorated at the same time and decided I needed to do something I’ve always dreamed of doing and surfing came to mind.  It was 2014 and I was 51.

I found Pura Vida Adventures on a web search and thought a trip with my daughter might be good for both of us, a way to connect build confidence, and have fun. However, I decided that this trip needed to be for me. I was a bit intimidated by the various travel connections to get to PVA and then came the magic email.  PVA was having a co-ed camp over New Year’s in 2014. I decided to surprise my husband at Christmas which really was a gift to me and my daughter was the one who really encouraged me to book the trip.

As we drove from Tambour airport to Santa Teresa/Malpais, I knew this was what I needed.

The dusty dirt roads just took me away from my worries and arriving at the retreat hotel Tropico Latino was a little jungle paradise.



I had no idea that we had a “retreat host,” and everything was arranged. A very friendly guy named Scott welcomed us and told us about the week.  I had an ah-ha moment – Scott, the retreat host, is my angel who is going to make this week effortless and amazing.

I filled out my goals for the week which were to stand up on a surfboard and relax.

Well, check and check, plus so much more.


Woman 50+ surf camp


I was so excited to surf that I can’t remember if I was nervous. But I remember the surf instruction that very first day focusing on basics and safety so I was not afraid of getting in the water.  Plus the instructor is right with you and another 1 or 2 people in the water so you get so much individual attention and immediate feedback.   It’s not like an instructor says here’s a surfboard, there’s the ocean….have at it and wave if you need anything. The instruction is so encouraging and personalized. The instructors quickly become your biggest cheerleader and lifelong friends.


women 50+ join together surf retreat


I was hooked the minute I got in the water and had not even attempted a ride!

I fell numerous times that first day and every other day, but just loved being in the water.  And of course, the first time I stood on the board was amazing. Then getting to the point where I could get on the wave myself was liberating.  It’s sort of like riding a bike for the first time where timing and balance come together and you say to yourself, I’ve got this and bam, you crash your bike. But it’s a feeling of freedom, if for only a brief moment.


Woman 50+ surfing in Costa Rica Pura Vida Adventures


Because of that week, we have returned 3 more times and the gifts of each visit have multiplied.

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


Woman 50+ surfing with instructor


So for those thinking it’s too late to learn to surf-Not true.

Can you stand and can you swim and can you get up if you fall down? Then you can surf. If you want to learn, these instructors will get you there. I have seen everyone at camp up on waves.  The first time I came, I was in reasonable shape but hadn’t done any special preparation. If you are reasonably active, Pura Vida Adventures staff works with where you are.



Prior to my return in 2017, I started having some wrist problems.  So now I use wrist braces for surfing and yoga for extra support. I have had to adjust my approach a little bit and Annie has helped me modify my pop-up to get off my wrists quickly but it’s still as enjoyable as ever.

So while the exhilarating moments have been plentiful, my first wave, successful pop-up, paddle out, green wave, and time to Cabuya,  the most memorable moment came in 2016. On the first day of camp, I tore my hamstring in a fluke accident. I can’t even brag about getting hit by a monster wave.  I simply stepped off the board awkwardly in 12 inches of water. I was so excited that this was going to be my year to slay the waves. Instead, I had to settle for a paddle out on New Year’s Eve.


Pura Vida Adventures surf camp and retreat


I sat on the board for the session and contemplated just how lucky I was…lucky to be surrounded by so many loving people, and the beautiful ocean, and lucky to have experienced PVA surfing at all.

I always have the best of intentions to do more planks or pop-ups or swim before coming back to camp, but never seem to really prepare more than my normal yoga or occasional orange theory class. I’ll be 55 when I return this year.  I guess now I am most nervous that each time I surf, it will be my last.

“My only regret is that I did not do this earlier.”

 Women at surf camp retreat


We have had numerous women, like Helen, who have learned how to surf with us in their 50’s and 60’s. What are you waiting for?

Now’s the time! It’s never too late to pursue the dreams you’ve had forever, and what better way to do it than in a kind, supportive environment–like at one of our amazing, all-inclusive, 5-star luxury, community-driven surf and yoga retreats? Come learn to surf, change your life, and live the dream. You can do it!

We love you Helen, and thanks for your story!


  1. gina L silano says:


    I’m so excited about this!!!
    How soon do you need a deposit for the trips?

    Gina Silano
    [email protected]

    • Tierza says:

      Hi Gina,

      We would love to have you join us. I am going to send you an email that will give you more information.

      Pura Vida.

      • Pamela Linzo says:

        Hi! Read about Helen’s story and got inspired of maybe learning to surf myself too at the age of 50.
        Please send me some info.

        • Tierza says:

          Hola Pamela,

          I will send you an email about our amazing retreats in Costa Rica. I am so glad you liked the blog.

          Pura Vida.

  2. Sonja Haught says:

    I love the ocean and would like to surf. I am 60 years old.

  3. Stacy Jimenez says:

    Please send me more information! I am 47 and have surfed a few times but not enough to feel confident, but it has always been a dream!

    • Tierza says:

      Hi Stacy, I will send you an email regarding our retreats. We would love to have you join us and fulfill your dream. It is amazing!

  4. Robert Hansen says:

    I am 59, lover of the ocean and recently retired. My goal during retirement is to learn to surf !
    Looking forward to starting this new phase in my life. Please send info.

  5. Maryann Tucker says:

    Would love to know more about Pura Vida. I’m 58 and ready for retirement from neonatal nursing. Please send any info.

    • Tierza says:

      Hi Maryann,

      I have no idea why I didn’t receive this message until now. I am so sorry for the late reply. We would love to have you join us. I will send you an email about our retreats. I hope I am not too late. 🙂

      Pura Vida.

  6. I am so happy I found your blog and I absolutely love your information on the topic and the tips you have shared are awesome. I liked and it is wonderful to know about so many things that are useful for all of us! Thanks a lot for this amazing blog!!If you are looking same kind of valuable information, then can also visit

  7. Mark Crum says:

    I am 66 and I am recovering from a calf muscle pull or tear in my right leg that I did two weeks ago while playing pickleball. At this time my calf is still sore and discolored from the incident. I am thinking about surfing after I recover in a few months. Maybe too old? What do you think? But if you believe it’s not too late, then how do I begin and some of the basic skills I will need?
    Thank you,

    • Tierza says:

      Hi Mark, I feel like learning something new in our later years really keeps us young. We have taught people to surf in their 60’s and 70’s. As long as you have the “will/desire” to surf, you can definitely surf. I would strongly suggest that you take a lesson or come to our surf retreat because we would love to have you and get you stoked on the sport. We have several coed surf retreat dates and we are offering one in the summer, July 10 – 16, if you want to get started soon. We have put together a really informative Youtube video series called “How to Surf”. I would check out these videos especially the “How to Pop-up”, “Surf Stance” and “Paddle Technique”. Here is the link:

      I also feel like swimming is such a good way to prepare for surfing and it will probably be good for your injury as well. Here is a link to our dates page, so you can get stoked on coming to visit us:

      I hope you have a fast recovery. We would love to see you in Costa Rica.

      Pura Vida.

  8. […] If you feel it’s the right thing to do it, just do it. Helen Ringler Perez joined Pura Vida Adventures at age of 50 with zero surfing experience. She has let nothing hold her back in the pursuit of her […]

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