Whether you have decided to join us on our Bodhi Family surf camp or you are doing some research to see if it will be a good fit for you and your family, this guide is for you. We have created this ultimate guide to preparing for the Bodhi Family surf vacation in order to give prospective and future guests a snapshot into what exactly to expect and what you need to do to prepare. All of the Bodhi Surf + Yoga vacations are designed to be low-maintenance for guests. We happily do the bulk of the logistical work required for our visiting friends. What’s included in the Bodhi Family surf and yoga camp? What’s included in Bodhi Sessions adult surf and yoga camp? Round trip transportation between the Juan Santamaria Airport and Bodhi Surf + Yoga, 7 nights of lodging, 3 dinners, 5 breakfasts, 5 surf lessons, a massage for the adults, a community walking tour, a visit to the local waterfall, a free day, flight offsets for the adults, and a $20 donation to our Travelers’ Philanthropy Program for the adults are all included.
We know that everyone prepares differently, and we wanted to consolidate the wealth of information and resources we have created over the years. It is designed for those who would like to learn more about the Bodhi Family surf camp and/or prepare for this exciting event if they have already booked. There is a lot to look forward to, and we can tell you that we are very excited for your visit!
Before you decide: Is this experience a good fit for your family?
In order to answer these important questions, we have put together eight interesting tidbits that may answer these questions for you and your family.
Visiting Costa Rica as a family
- Costa Rica is safe, friendly, and a family-oriented country. Yes, there are risks here like anywhere else in the world, but we believe that if you prepare properly and practice good, old-fashioned common sense, the instances of any issues drop drastically. Read more about common travel risks and how to avoid them, here.
- Costa Rica is very clean, and potable water in the majority of the country means less instance of getting sick. We’ve all 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 water situation is related to the general health of residents and visitors.
- There are so many outdoor activities to do in Costa Rica. It really is a playground for the adventurous (especially outdoorsy) type of person or family. As a surf and yoga camp, of course we are quick to recommend our favorite activities to any prospective visitor to the country. Yet aside from those, there are a ton of activities and tours you can participate in. Read more about them here.
Traveling to Bahia Ballena as a family
- Bahia Ballena is a natural paradise. Visit this small, coastal community that is surrounded on all sides either by lush jungle, verdant mountains, or the Pacific Ocean. There truly aren’t many places left like this in the world! Check out this video to get a glimpse of the flora and fauna of the area.
- There is so much to do 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. There is so much to learn and do — your family will absolutely not get bored here. Learn about the seven top activities in Bahia Ballena.
- Bahia Ballena is home to the stunning Marino Ballena National Park. The first marine park created in Central America, it’s main purpose is in the protection of the two visiting groups of humpback whales (yes, lots of opportunity for whale watching here) as well as the host of other marine flora and fauna. Bonus: if you learn to surf with Bodhi Surf + Yoga, it is within this very national park that you will be learning!
The Bodhi Surf + Yoga experience for families
- The Bodhi Family surf camp is designed with your family in mind. We ourselves have a young family on the Bodhi Surf + Yoga co-ownership and at the Bodhi lodge, and we have done our due diligence to create an unforgettable experience that your family will be able to share and remember forever.
- The Bodhi Surf + Yoga experience is, above all else, about learning. The five surf lessons themselves are designed with education in mind — and not just about surfing itself, but about the ocean, marine environment, and conservation. There is a community walk included which highlights information about the history, culture, and flora and fauna of Costa Rica and our community. All in all, Bodhi Surf + Yoga vacations are designed to facilitate connection to something greater, and awakening purpose! Check out the video entitled “This is Bodhi Surf + Yoga” to get a better idea of what this looks like.
Bodhi Family daily schedule
Note that this is a sample schedule, as exact times of activities are subject to change — as a surf school, we must operate around the tides!
Saturday (Day 1)
Typically, guests arrive on Saturday before around 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 four hour trip to Bodhi Surf + Yoga. Upon arrival at the Bodhi Surf + Yoga lodge, staff will welcome you, show you around, and you will enjoy the first group dinner at a local restaurant! After that — early night to bed for all to be ready for the first full day of the Bodhi Family surf camp.
Sunday (Day 2)
Sundays typically start with an early breakfast of fresh fruit, coffee, and an array of other food groups. To beat the heat, we usually have our community walking tour first thing after breakfast. 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 maybe even fauna), and to generally get a “lay of the land”. After returning to home base, there is a period of free time before a visit to the local supermarket to stock up on snacks and meal stuff for non-included meals. In the afternoon, the whole crew heads down to the beach for the first surf lesson of the week. 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)
By Monday morning, guests have an idea of the rhythm of Bodhi Surf + Yoga, Bahia Ballena, and life in general in a quaint coastal Costa Rican community. After a leisurely and filling breakfast at the Bodhi Surf + Yoga lodge, guests head to a local waterfall to cool down from the mid-morning heat. Returning to the lodge after this refreshing outing, there is a period of chill time prior to the sunset surf session (lesson number two of five). Monday night is group dinner number two at Bodhi Surf + Yoga, full of laughter and reflections of the day.
Tuesday (Day 4)
On Tuesday, guests are likely to be so into the way of life in the tropics that they rise — bright and early, with the sun. Next up: enjoying some local coffee or fruit juice, a delicious home-cooked breakfast, and conversation with fellow guests and staff. After breakfast, everyone heads out for the first morning surf lesson of the week. Post learning and shredding the waves, everyone heads back to the lodge for some chill time in the pool or hammocks. There are massages included for the adults, which occur on the yoga platform right at the Bodhi lodge. Tuesday is a free night, so guests often opt to enjoy a meal out at one of the local nearby restaurants.
Wednesday (Day 5)
Wednesday is the full free day! There are so many activities to participate in and sights to see. 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 doing private family yoga at the Bodhi Surf + Yoga lodge. 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. Or simply enjoy some rest time at the Bodhi Surf + Yoga lodge, chilling in the hammocks, in the pool, or on the day beds.
Thursday (Day 6)
Today, we are back at it with a delicious breakfast first thing followed by a morning surf lesson. Guests may opt to spend more time at the beach, perhaps even enjoying the beautiful sunset from a comfy position on the sand. Thursday night is the last group dinner at the Bodhi Surf + Yoga lodge, and game night! On this last evening together, we reflect on some of the experiences we have had together or apart, and perhaps even go over the “high, low, and ha” of the trip so far!
Friday (Day 7)
On Friday morning, it’s not unlikely to have a “dawn patrol” sunrise session where the aim is that on the fifth surf lesson, everything comes together. Following that, a delicious and filling breakfast is in order. After some packing and pool time, guests will attend the “Bodhi grad”. Finally, at around 3pm, guests are be picked you up at the Bodhi Lodge for your shuttle transfer to your hotel in San Jose where you will be spending your last night. A farewell, but not a goodbye!
Saturday (Day 8)
Guests typically fly out of San Jose back to their homes on this day.
Bodhi Surf Family Camp packing list
- A few sturdy, comfortable bathing suits. For guys, you’ll want to bring at least two pairs of board shorts, and note that some stretch is good. For the gals: there is a lot to be said about finding a good surf bathing suit. Read more about this subject here.
- 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 of 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 your 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.
- 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 good books or a few 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 lodge (as well as painting and drawing supplies), but if your family has 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!