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Monday, October 5, 2009

Boat Tripping

Costa Rica's most renowned break would have to be Witch's Rock (roca bruja), made famous by Bruce Brown's 1994 footage in Endless Summer II. Surfing the break then required a long four wheel drive followed by a long hike and paddle through a crocodile-infested river. While one can still drive to the break, several boats can be chartered out of Playa del Coco. Nick, Drew, and I were lucky to have internet at our Tamarindo hostel in early August (maybe not lucky, seems like everywhere in Tamarindo has internet). After studying the surf forecast for a couple days, we decided to find a boat to take us to Witch's Rock. We made plans with two Spanish surfers to charter a five-person boat and awoke before dawn to make the nearly two-hour drive to Playa del Coco.

Our boat driver Raymond was waiting for us when we arrived at sunrise. The forty-five minute boat ride was peaceful, and arrived to find Ollie's Point, another well-known wave just up the coast from Witch's Rock, empty and breaking. Ollie's (shown above) is a fickle rivermouth/point break with a small swell window, requiring a large, direct south swell. Nick and I were off the boat quickly, racing to the lineup just as a head high set rolled through. I caught the first wave, which feathered down the rocks all the way to the inside. Nick took off on the next one, following me to the inside. The others joined us and we all enjoyed some great waves. After an hour by ourselves, boats began trickling into the bay.

First one, then three. All of a sudden, there was thirty people in the lineup, including several longboarders. We still managed to get our waves, but it was quite disheartening to see such a secluded spot overrun with poorly skilled surfers. After spending the morning at Ollie's, we motored over to Witch's. Four empty boats floated near the rock, which meant a crowded lineup. We relaxed on our boat and ate lunch, waiting to paddle out. We had another fun session before Raymond called us back to the boat. We were running late and had to hurry back. The stormy conditions had made the see much rougher, making the boat ride back great fun, launching off waves and trying not to crush our tailbones as we bounced around the boat.


  1. Great pics! I had to giggle at your last sentence. I fractured my tailbone at Ollie’s in 2005. A giant “freak” swell came in out of nowhere and the captain had to gun the boat over it before it toppled us. A good 15-20 feet of air was on the other side of that swell... and I was sitting on the bow of the boat. Once the boat slammed down I went FLYING and landed right on my ass. CRUNCH! Never even made out of the boat or onto a board and ended up on my stomach for 6 hours while everyone else surfed. Sucked at the time and the inflatable doughnut that followed me around when I got back home to Florida was less than attractive, but made for a good memory and a great story I suppose. Heading back in 2 weeks, first trip back since then and I can’t wait!


  2. I thought I was going to fracture mine too, and we didn't even have a freak well. What a bummer! Hopefully you'll score some waves down there this time to make up for it. Are you planning on trying your luck and heading back to Ollie's? Check out my other Costa Rica posts for a couple other cool places we ended up.