What: Windsurfing in Costa Rica

When: December 13th to 23rd. 

Who: Miles and Allen

As far as I can tell, Costa Rica is the "beginner slopes" for travelers. The planes are packed with "tour-groups" who are quickly wisked off to clean hotels for "canopy tours" and nature hikes. On the bright-side, Costa Rica is also home to one of the worlds best high-wind spots in the world: Lake Arenal.  On one end of this lake is a massive, erupting volcano (Volcano Arenal), while on the other end, high winds power windmills and windsurfers most days with 25-45 mph wind speeds.

Unfortunately, Allen and I were skunked for three days straight.  "This never happens" was the quote of the day, everyday.  The lake region is remote, and most towns are at least 10 miles apart, which means that Allen and I had nothing to do when the wind didn't blow. Allen managed to hike a bit on the volcano and go to the hot-springs river, I managed a jungle-hike, but bailed on the $45-canopy tour, where you move through the woods using a series of zip-lines along with the tour-bus people.

The rest of the days had good wind, warm water and fun sailing.  A rash-gaurd and long shorts are all that you need to stay comfy and cool in the high winds and warm-sun.  Peter Hopley's "Tico-Wind" center is top-knotch, with brand new gear every year and lunch on the beach.  Norman's Rock-River Lodge was also very beautiful and well-run.  The rooms are reminiscent of "Gilligan's Island", with all-wood interior and beds.

If you are looking for warm-weather adventure tours - go to Nicaragua where the prices are better and the locals are better.  If you want excellent windsurfing, and great hosts - go to Arenal and hang out with Peter and Norman - world-class sailing.

A view of Lake Arenal from the Rock River Lodge

Rainbow over the lake during one of the less-windy days.

Allen in the bench in front of our room.  I'm standing just a few feet across fro where Allen is sitting, admiring the view.

Hiking in the rainforest below Dave's house - on some land that Norman owns. Allen is in the first two photos, and that's Norm on the right, near the "hollow tree".

Pete's rental gear is truly top-knotch.  The sails were all Niel Pryde, and the boards were JP-Australia (Right: Pete and friends having lunch on the beach.)

Mountain Biking with Norm and the gang on a no-wind day.

Hanging out with Dave, Gus, Norm and Francesco - Allen and I finish up a tough, fun ride at Dave's place with a Corona.

Consulting with the locals..

    

Monkeys, Parrots, and Toucans were some of the wildlife around the area.

 

Hanging out at the local "Porky's" -- Allen was instantly taken to the 'back-bar' area.

My Nasty, Sunburned Foot - which still hurts while I write this on the plane....