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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!