Frequently Asked Questions

Visiting Bodhi Surf + Yoga

Bodhi Surf + Yoga offers a smaller, more intimate surf and yoga camp setting where the owners and staff are the ones sharing in your Costa Rica surfing and yoga experience with you. Our operations are based out of a small town that is still relatively untouched by large-scale tourism, and we work together with our fellow community-members to keep Bahia Ballena beautiful and have it serve as a positive example. We are committed to sustainable tourism: community involvement and environmental awareness are part of your experience with Bodhi Surf + Yoga. Finally, we are the first ever surf and yoga camp in the world to earn B Corp certification!

Bodhi Sessions surf and yoga camps include: the main 5 surf lessons, 5 yoga classes, 6 nights of accommodation at the lodge and one night of accommodation in San Jose, 3 dinners and 5 breakfasts, a waterfall visit, local transportation to camp activities, snacks during surf sessions, guided walking tour of the community of Bahia Ballena, and National Park entrance fees for the days there are surf lessons. Check here for details about what the Bodhi Family vacations include

The food at the Bodhi Surf + Yoga lodge aims to check all of these boxes: filling, nutritious, healthy, locally-sourced, home-made, fresh, and delicious. The Bodhi Surf + Yoga team members are also avid foodies and strive to serve food that exceeds guests’ expectations. Bodhi Surf + Yoga is able to cater to specific dietary restrictions such as vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, nut-free, etc.

Our standard Bodhi Sessions Surf + Yoga camps are either in the 7 or 14 nights depending on how much time you want to dedicate, and the Bodhi Family vacation is seven nights, yet it too can be done back-to-back.

You do not, but we would highly encourage you to give both surfing and yoga a try — there are so many reasons that we offer them in conjunction!

It is not required to have a car for your stay at Bodhi Surf + Yoga. Transportation from the airport and back is included in your vacation package price. Once at the lodge, transportation to all scheduled activities is included. Moreover, most everything else you need is accessible by foot (restaurants, shops, banks, etc.) If you desire to go further than walking distance, you can either rent a bike for the week or take a taxi. 

There are many restaurants in the Bahia Ballena - Uvita area, with several delicious options within a 10-minute walk. There are also more places to eat popping up every year. If you don’t feel like walking, you can also look into renting a bike or opt to take a taxi. 

The Bodhi Surf + Yoga lodge is located approximately 15-20 minutes walking-distance from either the Punta Uvita (Whale Tail) or Playa Chaman (Bodhi Surf + Yoga’s surf beach) park entrances. For surf lessons, we drive together which takes about 5 minutes. 

Surfing with Bodhi

The lessons include all of the equipment necessary for surfing, including surfboard, wax, and leash, and rashguards. Basic items you should bring include: mineral sunscreen, a few comfortable bathing suits, a surf hat, and a rashguard. We also recommend rashguard pants for women.

Our surf lessons take place at Playa Chaman (also known as Playa Colonia) which sits inside the Marino Ballena National Park. It is a beautiful, uncrowded beach that is ideal for both learning to surf and also relaxing!

Playa Chaman in the Marino Ballena National Park is a very safe beach to surf at which is one of the reasons it is such an optimal spot to learn. While surfing has its risks, many of these risks can be minimized by having ocean awareness, surfboard management skills, and surf safety knowledge — all of which we go over in our surf lessons.

The size of the waves at Playa Chaman can change from week to week or day to day, as they can at any beach, but on average they can range from 2 - 4 feet. Among the greatest benefits that Playa Chaman offers beginner and intermediate surfers are its gentle breaking waves and uncrowded surf lineups.

You may attend as many or as few as you would like; however, we have seen enough students who claim they don’t want to surf (for whatever their reasons may be), only to change their minds, and then have the absolute best time. So we encourage everyone to at least give it a try!

Yoga at Bodhi

That’s no problem! We love it when we are the first to introduce our students into the world of yoga. And our classes are both personalized to the students and multi-level, which means that there are different variations of many poses depending on students’ experience, flexibility, and level.

Classes at Bodhi Shambala Yoga Studio are in the Vinyasa Flow style and are designed to create heat, purify, strengthen, and stretch the body.

Classes are between 75 and and 90 minutes, depending on how many questions students have. As with most things at Bodhi, we take our time and enjoy each moment rather than living by the clock!

We believe very strongly that yoga benefits surfing (as well as every aspect of life); however, you are not obligated to attend all or any yoga classes if you don’t want to. It has been proven to help our guests’ surfing, so if you are most interested in surfing, we would still encourage you to give it a try.

Bodysurfing with Bodhi

Not only is Bodhi Surf + Yoga the first ever surf and yoga camp to earn a B Corp certification, but we are also the first surf camp to offer bodysurfing lessons. Bodysurfing is a crucial tool in the beginner surfer’s repertoire, and offers a completely different and unique connection with the ocean that will ultimately reduce your learning curve when it comes time for board-surfing.

Bodhi Awaken includes: 13 nights of accommodation at the Bodhi Lodge and 1 night of accommodation in San Jose, 10 breakfasts and 6 dinners, 1 swim technique training lesson, 3 bodysurf lessons, 7 surf lessons, 8 yoga classes, a walking tour of Bahia Ballena, a waterfall visit, local transportation to camp activities, snacks during surf and bodysurf lessons, and National Park entrance fees on lesson days.

Like any sport, the more time you dedicate to deliberate practice and repetition, the better you are going to perform. Dedicating two weeks allows you ample time to gain more confidence in the ocean and drastically improve your surfing (and bodysurfing) ability. Furthermore, two weeks is the perfect amount of time to truly disconnect from your work life, and reconnect with nature, self, and purpose.

Bodysurfing, as defined by The Encyclopedia of Surfing, is the physical act of riding a wave using only the body as a planing surface; the original and purest form of surfing. Humans have been practicing the art of bodysurfing for centuries, as it is the simplest form of playing in the ocean energy. For more information about bodysurfing, check out this blog post.

When it comes to learning how to surf, the more ocean experience the better, and if you want to reduce your learning curve, then you should spend some time catching waves without a board first. Bodysurfing teaches the individual how to see waves, how to dive beneath them, how to catch them, how to move around other surfers, and how to identify rip currents and other potential hazards. Furthermore, less equipment means less learning steps, more maneuverability, and a deeper connection with the wave.

The most important thing you need to bring for the bodysurf lessons is a tight-fitting swimsuit that will create minimal drag (and will stay on)—similar to what you would wear to swim laps in a pool. Swim fins will be provided for you, but you can certainly bring your own if you already have a pair.

You need to be able to swim at least four lengths of an olympic-size swimming pool (200m) using either a sidestroke or freestyle stroke in order to participate in the bodysurfing lessons. If you are not a strong swimmer, you will spend the week catching whitewater waves in chest-deep water instead of swimming out to catch green waves.

The swim technique training lesson is a two-hour pool session that will introduce various stroke techniques and breathing strategies to prepare students for ocean swimming and ultimately enable participants to feel more comfortable in the water. 

About Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a very safe country indeed. As a more developed country than its other Central American neighbors, Costa Rica does not struggle as much as its neighboring countries with issues such as poverty, crime, and other problems that often coexist with the development stage.

Costa Rica is a very safe and family-friendly country with plenty of family activities, child-friendly accommodations, and more. Moreover, it is very clean and the water is potable in much of the country (such as in Bahia Ballena!) which greatly helps prevent food-borne illnesses.

Depending on your preference, Costa Rica has a bit of everything (except snow, of course). From May to November, the climate is slightly cooler but can also be very rainy, especially in the afternoons, with the peak rainy season being in September and October. From December to April, it is very hot and dry for the most part. Also, the mountainous regions are generally cooler than the low-lying coastal areas. Due to climate change, these trends have been fluctuating in the past several years, so while it can be unpredictable, it generally follows the above trends.

Costa Ricans pride themselves on being extremely friendly and welcoming towards those who visit their beautiful country. You can expect to encounter smiles, helpful advice, and a very high level of hospitality and helpfulness throughout the entire country.

Costa Rican culture is generally very happy, warm, and family-oriented. Costa Ricans love to show off their beautiful country which has many celebrations and cultural festivities. As a former Spanish colony, Costa Rica is a Roman-Catholic country with many of the country’s residents considering themselves religious. One thing to keep in mind is that, as a Latin American country, there is still a prevalent atmosphere of “machismo” or male dominance, though that seems to be diminishing, especially in places that see more tourists.

While Costa Rica is still a fairly conservative and religious culture, due to the amount of visitors it receives, it has progressed a great deal in this respect in the past 20 years. Nowadays, it is a very popular destination with travelers of all genders and sexual identities. Our area happily welcomes travelers of all kinds with open arms. We at Bodhi Surf + Yoga practice “radical inclusion” and ensure that we are accessible and welcoming to all.

While not as cheap as the other Central American countries, Costa Rica can still be a relatively affordable destination (depending, of course, on how you travel!)

The traditional food is very simple: Ticos (Costa Ricans) eat lots of meat, beans, and rice. Tourism is such a large industry in Costa Rica, so there are also many ethnic, fusion, and gourmet restaurants in the larger and more touristy cities. And again, because the tap water in the majority of the country is potable (though we recommend you always check with a local before drinking it), there are fewer sanitation issues in comparison to other Latin American countries.

About Bahia Ballena

Bahia Ballena is a small town that is often grouped with the town of Uvita, hence it is common to hear references of 'Bahia-Uvita'. Online you will be well served in searching for "Uvita". However, the two towns are separated by a bridge (and river) and both are easily accessible to visitors on either side of the river. The Bodhi lodge is located in Bahia Ballena.

Driving via the coastal route, it is about 3.5 hours from San Jose to Bahia Ballena, home of Bodhi Surf + Yoga.

You can go on a boat and whale watching tour, go horseback riding or kayaking, take a canopy or canyoning tour, or go diving or snorkeling. There are also nature hikes, such as to a pristine waterfall in the mountains east of Bahia Ballena. You can also read a book on the beach, do some shopping in the nearby markets, or chill out in the hammocks at the Bodhi lodge!

Yes, both Bahia Ballena and Uvita have several options when it comes to banks, supermarkets, bakeries, restaurants, and shops.

As Costa Rica is still quite pristine, there is a lot of wildlife in the country, considered to be one of it’s best features by most visitors. While many of these animals are completely harmless to humans, there are a few that can be dangerous. As we are in a more rural area, Bahia does have some animals, though they generally tend to stay away from humans as they are more scared of us than we are of them. The best policy is to be aware of your surroundings, and ask the locals when in doubt.

You can expect to see some bugs as it is the tropics, though as it is still very lush, the bugs tend to prefer the jungle to being indoors. The best policy is to keep your bags off of the floor, check your bed at night, and generally be aware of your surroundings. As mentioned above, mosquitoes are not a big problem in the area of Bahia Ballena.

While crime is something that cannot be predicted, Costa Rica in general has very little serious crime, and our region in particular is very calm. In any case, one thing to know is that petty crime exists all over the country, and in particular where tourists are. Be sure to lock your doors and windows when you leave your hotel, bring your belongings inside, take just what you need to the beach, and always watch your things both on the beach and on public transportation.

This depends on what your personal preference is for weather. The months of May to November are cooler and wetter, and December to April is hotter and drier. Also, keep in mind that as a Roman Catholic country, religious holidays are widely celebrated, so these times can be a lot busier. It is helpful to check local listings for what is going on in the area that you are going to at specific times of the year. As a smaller town, Bahia Ballena is fairly tranquil the whole year.

There are no nightclubs in the area, but there are several bars and other venues in Uvita and Dominical that provide fun night-life, sometimes even live music.

Helping hands are always welcome, but there aren’t always options for people doing shorter stays. Feel welcome to let us know if you are interested in contributing to the local community during your stay and we will do our best to provide opportunities to get involved.

Visiting Amidst COVID-19

Yes, Bodhi Surf + Yoga is open. As of November 1st, 2020, the borders are also open to the entire world and Bodhi Surf + Yoga has been operational since then for our 2020-21 season. There are still some travel restrictions in Costa Rica as well as people’s own home countries. This is a continuously changing situation, so we recommend you check the latest news on The Tico Times (Costa Rica’s leading English language newspaper) to see the latest on traveling to Costa Rica.

See outlined version below, and full policy here.

Reservation and Payment Policy

Bodhi Surf + Yoga requires a USD $500 reservation deposit per person for vacation packages. Once the reservation deposit is received, your desired dates and accommodation preferences are booked. The deposit is credited to the total amount of your Bodhi Surf + Yoga vacation package.

Reservations are to be paid in full no less than 30 days prior to your arrival date.

For vacation package reservations made less than 30 days prior to your arrival date, packages must be paid in full immediately upon notification that your reservation has been confirmed and reception of invoice from Bodhi Surf + Yoga.

Cancellation Policy

Reservations may be canceled and refunded based on the following:

  • Less than 60 days prior to arrival date: No refund of deposit
  • Less than 30 days prior to arrival date: No refund of payment or deposit

At this moment, we are unable to waive the cancellation policy. That being said, we understand that situations outside of the norm do come up (even outside of the global COVID-19 pandemic), and so we do handle these situations on a case-by-case basis.

Yes, but we cannot guarantee there will be spaces, as we operate on a first come first serve basis. We do fill up in advance, as we limit our week-long experiences to 10 guests per week.

If the limited flights available mean that you will arrive a day or more later than your scheduled arrival date, you will be responsible for booking your own lodging for those nights (if necessary) as well as arriving to Bodhi Surf + Yoga. You can book a shared shuttle using EasyRide or Monkey Ride. Alternatively, you can reserve private transportation via Bodhi Surf + Yoga, starting at USD $250 one way (San Jose – Bodhi Surf + Yoga). We will do our best to make up any missed surf and yoga sessions.

There are still a few countries requiring that its citizens and residents require a negative COVID-19 PCR (or in some cases, Antigen) test prior to returning home. Be sure to check what your own country requires.

There are many private hospitals and clinics around Costa Rica offering various COVID-19 tests with results ranging from 24-48 hours.

In the Bahia Ballena-Uvita area, there are several nearby options:

  • Uvita Urgent Care in Uvita. Results are provided within 12-48 hours. Both Antigen and PCR tests. This is our most recommended clinic due to the close proximity to the Bodhi Lodge, ease of testing, and timely results. 
  • Vargas Consultorio Medico in Uvita. Results are provided within 24-72 hours. Both Antigen and PCR tests. This is one of the clinics our guests have used due to the close proximity to the Bodhi Lodge.

Yes, you can schedule both PCR and Antigen tests right at the San Jose International (SJO) airport. There are three options: next day PCR test, 3-hour PCR test, and 1-hour Antigen test. Note that some countries do not accept Antigen testing. You can get more information and schedule your appointment here

Please check your home country’s requirements.

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