• Parlay Vacay

Level Up on Vacation: Learn to Surf in Costa Rica

By Chelsea La Near

Skill sharing vacations, a growing trend in educational travel, feature experiences designed to help you develop a new or existing skill during your vacation - a dual purpose that may just be the motivation you need to start planning your next trip. Parlay Vacay is part of this growing travel trend featuring hands-on learning experiences for travelers.

This week, we caught up with Edgar Sanchez, the cofounder of Learn Improve Surf Company in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

Head Instructor, Edgar Sanchez, demonstrating a powerful frontside cut-back.

The world-renowned waves of Tamarindo, a laid-back town on the North Pacific coast of Costa Rica, make it a prime destination for surfing. The waves vary in intensity in different areas along the coast which make this destination perfect for all levels of surfers. Whether you're a complete beginner or just looking to improve your current surf skills, Edgar Sanchez, cofounder and lead instructor at Learn Improve Surf Company, can personalize lessons for the specific needs of all levels and most ages.

1. What is your personal background, and how does it relate to your business?

I was born and raised in the mountains 2 hours from San Jose downtown, Costa Rica. I moved to Tamarindo almost 20 years ago and started to surf 16 years ago. For almost 10 years, I worked for the largest surf camp in Tamarindo, and received my official surf instructor certification in 2007. In 2010, I started working on my own and co-founded Learn Improve Surf Company in 2012.

2. Can you describe a typical experience you offer your clients? 

Basically I coach people who really want to improve their surfing skills as well as people who want an introduction to the sport. So I work with both experienced surfers and complete beginners. For clients who require transportation, I pick them up at Liberia airport and drop them off at their hotels here in Tamarindo (1 hour 10 minutes drive). When it comes to our lessons, we begin with a brief interview and an accurate surfboard selection. Some people hire me for just one lesson and some people for multiple. Beginners are taught here in Tamarindo while intermediate and advanced surfers are often taken to Grande Beach or Avellanas, both a 30-minute drive from Tamarindo. Lessons start with theory, which usually lasts from 20 to 30 minutes followed by about an hour of guided practice in the waves.

3. What inspired you to create this experience for others?

Well, when I decided to work on my own, I realized that it was going to be hard to compete against the bigger, already established businesses. The only niche in the market would be to offer a more personal, exclusive way of coaching, so that's what we do.

4. How have you expanded your offerings since you started your business?

I started teaching only here in Tamarindo. Then in 2014, I was approved for a loan to get a brand new crew cab truck which opened a whole new range of options, and since then I have been able to coach intermediate and advanced surfers at Grande and Avellanas Beach. I also started to offer the transportation service from Liberia Airport to Tamarindo and vice versa. 5. I think that the company is unique, is sustainable due to its small scale, and makes a positive contribution to a few local people and businesses. Edgar and client after a surf lesson

5. How do you think your company positively contributes to tourism in your area?

I think the small-scale of the company offers a unique and personal experience to tourists. We also work hard to contribute to local people and businesses.

Surf lessons in Costa Rica for kids

If you're interested in hands-on surf lessons offered by one of Learn Improve Surf Company's professional teachers, visit their contact page.

They'd love to hear from you.


Chelsea La Near, M. Ed., is a writer, wanderluster, and language education professional from Missouri who spent the past 9 years teaching abroad in East Asia and is currently based in Seattle. Follow her on Twitter