The inquiries continue to trickle in for Bodhi Awaken, the two-week offering that includes a week of bodysurfing lessons, before transitioning into our standard surf + yoga curriculum during week two. And why wouldn’t they, this retreat is the “first of its kind”. The first week of Bodhi Awaken is designed to teach you not just the physical act of catching and riding waves with your body, but also about the history and cultural significance of the pastime. There is no easier way to build this foundation of ocean savvy amongst our students than by teaching them how to bodysurf. Bodysurfing is not only a pleasurable and unique method of riding waves, but an essential precursor to all other forms of board-surfing, one that will teach you how to maintain your cool in the ocean if you should find yourself in an emergency situation — say, floating in deep water without a board after a broken leash situation. In week two, you will reap the benefits of your first week of investment, and continue on with Bodhi Sessions adult surf and yoga camp!
What’s included in the Bodhi Awaken retreat? A whole lot. Round trip transportation between the Juan Santamaria Airport and Bodhi Surf + Yoga, 14 nights of lodging, 6 dinners, 10 breakfasts, swim technique training at local pool, 4 bodysurfing lessons, 2 stretching sessions, 5 surf lessons, 5 yoga classes, yoga mat and prop use, a massage, a community walking tour, a visit to the local waterfall, and 3 free days, a powerpoint presentation, movie night, and handplane workshop are all included! Also, you get the benefit of staying at a quaint lodge with a group of passionate individuals who have lived in the larger community of Bahia Ballena for up to 15 years and have ton of local knowledge to share. If you are interested in what this first week will look like in detail, then read on.
Since this is such a unique retreat, we thought it would be helpful to put together another ultimate guide for preparing for your two-week bodysurf, surf and yoga vacation. Ostensibly, you may have some questions — and we would like to address them here!
Before you decide: Is this experience a good fit for you?
In order to answer these important questions, we have put together eight interesting tidbits that may answer these questions for you.
Traveling to Costa Rica
- Costa Rica is a safe and friendly country. Certainly, there are risks in Costa Rica (like anywhere else in the world), yet we believe that if you prepare properly and practice good, old-fashioned common sense, you will likely be able to avoid trouble. Learn more about common travel risks and how to avoid them, here.
- Costa Rica is very clean, and since there is potable water in the majority of the country, the instance of getting sick goes down greatly. Many of us have heard of, or had personal experiences with, getting sick in a tropical or developing country. Read a few reasons why we believe that (at least in our community of Bahia Ballena), the potable water equates to good sanitation.
- Costa Rica is a wonderful place to learn to surf and gain ocean awareness. If you’re looking into the Bodhi Awaken retreat, this is something that is probably of interest to you! With its warm water, uncrowded lineups, and friendly locals, Costa Rica is the perfect place to build your foundation of ocean savvy. Read more!
Visiting the community of Bahia Ballena
- Bahia Ballena is a naturally beautiful place to visit. Come visit this small, coastal community that is surrounded on all sides either by lush jungle, green mountains, or the great blue Pacific Ocean. There aren’t many places left like this in the world, but you could be one of the lucky people to experience this place!
- There are many activities to participate in here in Bahia Ballena! Whether it’s an outdoor, adventure, or cultural activity, this place has so much to do for all budgets, travel styles, and levels of desired activity — and with two weeks, you’ll have plenty of time to do so! Learn about seven of the top activities in Bahia Ballena.
- Bahia Ballena is adjacent to the natural paradise, Marino Ballena National Park! The first marine park created in Central America, it’s main purpose is in the protection of all of the marine flora and fauna. You’ll be learning to both bodysurf and surf with Bodhi Surf + Yoga, it is within this very national park that you will be learning!
The Bodhi Awaken Bodysurfing, Ocean Awareness, Surf + Yoga Camp experience
- If you do want to learn how to surf, there’s no better way to start than with bodysurfing! 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 surfboard first. As ISA certified surf instructors, we understand the necessity for our students to have a solid foundation of ocean knowledge and awareness before heading out to the lineup with a nine-foot floatation device attached to a ten-foot leash. Learn more about this unique sport!
- This is a unique, one of a kind retreat. Yes, according to our research (and probably yours) we are the first surf camp in the world to offer this kind of retreat. We are incredibly excited to link these core activities, and to really teach them. One of our goals here at Bodhi Surf + Yoga is also to inspire: in this instance, we want our students to progress their bodysurfing, have a wider ocean experience, shorten the learning curve of surfing, and gain mind-body awareness with the yoga.
Bodhi Awaken daily schedule
Note that this is just a sample schedule, as exact times of activities are subject to change. As a surf school, we must schedule our activities according to the ever-shifting tides.
Saturday (Day 1)
Typically, guests arrive on Saturday before 2pm at the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose, Costa Rica. At approximately 3pm, a shuttle will pick you up at the San Jose airport near the Deli “La Malinche”. You can grab a bite to eat at the restaurant prior to making the approximately 4-hour trip to Bodhi Surf + Yoga. Upon arrival at the Bodhi Surf + Yoga lodge, staff will welcome you, show you around, and get you settled in your room. You will then enjoy your first group dinner at a local restaurant with your bodysurf instructors, Hannah and Spencer. After your long day of travel, you will want to get to bed early to rest up and prepare for your first full day of Bodhi Awaken!
Sunday (Day 2)
Sundays typically start with an early breakfast of fresh fruit, coffee, and an assortment of other light foods to prepare you for an action-packed morning. After breakfast, you will head up to the onsite Bodhi Shambala Yoga Studio for a brief powerpoint presentation on bodysurfing, which will provide you with some context, and help set the stage for the upcoming bodysurf lessons. You will then head offsite to a local community pool where you will participate in a swim technique training session led by former lifeguard and collegiate swimmer, Hannah Walsh. After the pool swim lesson, you will return to Bodhi Surf + Yoga where you will have an opportunity to shower and get dressed before heading to the local supermarket to stock up on snacks and meal stuff for non-included meals. Back at the lodge, you will have time to eat lunch and relax before the community walking tour, the last scheduled event of the day. This activity is a great way for guests to learn about the local community from a trained local guide, see some of the local flora and fauna, and get a general “lay of the land”. Sunday night is free, so everyone typically does their own thing, whether heading to a local restaurant or making something simple to eat before relaxing in the hammock or playing some games before bed.
Monday (Day 3)
Monday is an exciting day because it will be your first official opportunity to play in Mother Ocean! You will start the morning off right with some coffee and a banana (or two) before piling into the surf mobile to head down to Playa Chaman for your first bodysurf lesson. Playa Chaman is located within the relatively undeveloped confines of the famed Marino Ballena National Park — home to arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Costa Rica — where the jungle meets the sea. Before entering the ocean for the bodysurf session, your instructors will provide you with some history and information about the park, including a brief discussion about the famed “Cola de Ballena,” a mysterious natural rock-reef and sandbar formation that juts into the Pacific Ocean to form a near-identical replica of a whale’s tail.
After spending two hours frolicking in the warm, tropical waters of the equatorial Pacific, you will head back to Bodhi Surf + Yoga to satisfy your newfound appetite with a delicious home-cooked breakfast. Whether snoozing in a hammock or cooling off by the pool, you will want to spend some time relaxing and digesting breakfast before heading to the local Uvita waterfall. You can grab a cool beverage and some lunch at the restaurant located near the entrance of the waterfall before being transported back to Bodhi in the late afternoon. Just before sunset, you will head up to the yoga platform to enjoy an hour-long “yin yoga style” group stretch session with former stretch therapist, Spencer. After limbering up throughout the course of the restorative stretch session, you will want to shower before returning to the yoga platform later in the evening for a pizza movie night! The movie we will be watching is titled “Come Hell or High Water”, a truly breathtaking film about bodysurfing.
Tuesday (Day 4)
By your fourth day in Costa Rica, you will likely find yourself rising early with the sun, as your body gets in tune with its natural circadian rhythm. After grabbing a light snack and some coffee, you will return to the beach for your second ocean bodysurf lesson, where you will continue perfecting your wave-swimming abilities. After enjoying another post-bodysurf breakfast at Bodhi, you will work out the kinks with a nice, relaxing massage on the yoga deck. In the afternoon, you will express your inner artist during the handplane workshop, during which you will be gifted a handcrafted wooden handplane made by Spencer, and given the opportunity to add your own personal flair to the board. Tuesday is a free night, so you might want to prepare yourself a home-cooked meal in the Bodhi kitchen, or head out to one of the many nearby restaurants for some delicious Costa Rican cuisine.
Wednesday (Day 5)
Wednesday is a free day, so take advantage of the myriad adventurous activities and sights to see in and around town. For example, eating meals out at the local favorite spots, going for a walk to the Whale Tail or a hike into the local mountains, or just chilling at the Bodhi Surf + Yoga lodge, lounging in the hammocks, in the pool, or on the day beds. There is a wonderful local farmer’s market held in the town center every Wednesday where you can grab some fresh produce and purchase some local artisanal gifts to bring home to your friends and family. Guests can also do one of the many half or full-day tours of the area: boat tours (whale watching, snorkeling, or to a famous nearby national park), canyoning, ziplining, horseback riding, and more.
Thursday (Day 6)
After resting up during your day off, you will be fresh and ready to dive back into your third ocean bodysurf lesson of the week. After wave sliding all morning long, you will return to the lodge for breakfast, followed by another stretch session on the yoga deck with Spencer. In the wake of an action-packed morning, you will have plenty of time to decompress and maybe even head down to the beach for sunset before returning to Bodhi Surf + Yoga for dinner. There will be another handplane workshop following dinner, during which you will put the final touches on your new handboard, which you will have the option to use during your final bodysurf lesson the following morning!
Friday (Day 7)
Today is the day! All of the skills and knowledge that you acquired throughout the week will be put to the test during the fourth and final bodysurf lesson at Playa Chaman. After this successful ocean outing, you will return to Bodhi for breakfast. Lastly, breakfast will be followed with a closing ceremony held by Hannah and Spencer to reflect on the transformative week of bodysurfing, and set the tone for the upcoming week of board-surfing and yoga. After this wrap-up, you will be given the rest of the day off to soak it all in and gear up for another incredible week at the Bodhi lodge!
Saturday (Day 8)
Like Wednesday, you will have plenty of downtime on Saturday to recharge until dinner time, when you will join Bodhi staff members for an offsite meal. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep as you prepare for the coming week of surf and yoga!
Sunday-Friday (Days 9-14)
Interested in what the second week of Bodhi Awaken will look like? Read on!
Bodhi Awaken packing list
- A few sturdy, comfortable bathing suits. For guys, you’ll want to bring at least two pairs of board shorts, and one of them on the tighter side. For the gals: there is a lot to be said about finding a good surf bathing suit. Read more about this subject here. Note that a one-piece is ideal for the bodysurf portion of the retreat.
- Hat. The sun here is much stronger than in other parts of the world, and being diligent about wearing a hat while out in the sun will help to prevent sunburns, heatstroke, and dehydration. If you are very concerned about burning, we strongly suggest a waterproof hat with a strap to wear while you surf. Read more about this subject here.
- Sunglasses. The sun and saltwater is very hard on the eyes, so bring your sunglasses! If your eyes are sensitive, polarized sunglasses are recommended for optimal protection. If you are worried about losing or damaging your sunglasses, it’s a good idea to bring a less valuable pair for the beach and other activities.
- Sandals. Flip flops or strap on sandals are everyone’s favorites for going to the beach. Sturdy, good quality sandals with a hard sole and straps that are sewn are recommended.
- Shirts. Bring a variety of t-shirts and tank tops. Cotton or other natural fabrics such as linen are preferable. If you are visiting between June-November, you may want to bring a light sweatshirt or jacket as well, as it can cool off at night.
- Shorts. Bring several pairs. Again, if you’re coming between June-November, you may also want to bring light pants.
- Waterproof sunscreen. While it is available to purchase down here, it is significantly more expensive and there is significantly less selection than in your home country. We recommend mineral sunscreen both for you and the planet’s health — read more about it!
- Reusable water bottle. The water here is both potable and delicious! We at Bodhi Surf + Yoga care greatly about the environment and thus try to reduce our plastic consumption. We hope you will join us in this effort!
- Some cash. Credit cards are widely accepted and there are several ATMs in town, but it’s always good to have some cash on hand at the beginning of your trip.
- Running or hiking shoes. There are many worthwhile places to see in the area which involve walking or hiking. Paths can be anywhere from in perfect condition to mildly treacherous, therefore we highly recommend a closed-toe shoe with good grip.
- Day backpack. Great for going to the beach, on hikes, walks, or other tours.
- Camera. It’s a beautiful area. You’ll probably want to brag about your trip when you go home. GoPros with durable casings and waterproof/break-proof cameras are recommended if you want action shots (Costa Rica seems to have a way of destroying cameras).
- Personal rash guard. Bodhi Surf + Yoga has rash guards in a wide variety of sizes, but often times people like to bring their own to ensure a good fit. Ladies with sensitive skin: knee rashes are quite common. If you’re concerned, get some into rash guard pants or simply bring some tight yoga pants that cover the knees.
- Swim fins. These will be provided by Bodhi Surf + Yoga, but if you have your own pair, definitely bring them!
- Natural insect repellent. Bugs aren’t a huge problem here, but sometimes it’s nice to have repellent if you’re out during the evenings or early morning.
- Personal toiletries and medications. Again, most items can be found here but just in case, it’s best to bring your own!
- Earplugs and eye mask. These are suggested only if you have issues sleeping. As we are located within the community, there are certain sounds associated with that: birds, dogs, music, weed whackers, etc. Also, keep in mind that it gets light around 5am.
- Dressy outfit. There are several nice places to go out for dinner if you feel like treating yourself; there is no dress code here at the beach in Costa Rica but you may feel like getting dressy at least once during your stay! Note: “dressy” here in our beach town is actually pretty casual: sun-dresses for girls, and short-sleeved button up shirts and non-sport shorts for guys.
- A few good books or magazines. The Bodhi Surf + Yoga lodge does not have any televisions on premises, but there are plenty of comfy areas to lounge around and read! We have a small library here, but you may want to use this time to power through your personal reading list.
- Games. We have several games at the Bodhi Surf + Yoga lodge (as well as painting and drawing supplies), but if you have personal faves, this is a good opportunity to get some quality game time in
Bodhi Surf + Yoga is an award-winning B Corp certified, 1% for the Planet member, and a Transformational Tourism Council partner. Learn about our various vacation options, and book soon as spaces are limited!