My name is Hannah Walsh and I am 19 years old, and a firm believer in the benefits of travel and all that can be learned through experiences abroad. I’m from Massachusetts, USA, and have been fortunate enough to travel to many different places around the world. However, Costa Rica is the first place that I have stayed for an extended period of time — I arrived at the beginning of December and will be here until March, interning for Bodhi Surf School and assisting with the production of The Bodhi Wave, an environmental documentary. Since being here, I am constantly learning and genuinely appreciating all that this incredible country has to offer.
Traveling and setting foot in a new country is widely considered to be the one of the best learning experiences that a person can receive. It opens up the mind and introduces new ways of living. There are endless, diverse types of cultures, food, landscapes, and belief systems that encompass this planet we live on, just waiting to be encountered. John Steinbeck once wrote, “People don’t take trips, trips take people.” Taking that first step and planning your first trip can be nerve-wracking, but can also be the beginning of true self-discovery. When I started to travel internationally, it changed the course of my future by giving me the drive to seek out experiences and new ways of thinking. Your first international travel experience should be one that leaves you wanting to see more and do more long after. A few factors need to come into play of course, including safety, regional security, diverse landscape, and the opportunity for adventure. This is why Costa Rica is a wonderful destination for your first international trip. And Bodhi Surf in particular is a great option for those who have limited experience outside of their home countries.
A huge aspect of enjoying your travel experience is whether or not you feel welcomed by the country. If you are welcomed, or at the very least can blend in, it will make you feel more at ease. Energy naturally spreads, and Costa Rica has been named the happiest countries on earth! Positivity is free-flowing throughout the “Rich Coast” which makes first-time international travel a truly awesome and memorable experience. What makes it one of the “happiest”one could ask? Costa Rica got rid of its army in 1949 and now dedicates those funds to healthcare, education, and the environment. They are more focused on the well-being of their people, and that is likely a catalyst to the country’s overall happiness.
While traveling throughout the boundless country, you’ll often hear the phrase “Pura Vida” which means “pure life”. Life can be more fast-paced and stress-filled living in big cities or populated areas. Traveling to Costa Rica and experiencing the “Pura Vida” mindset may have a profound impact on your overall well-being, something you can take home with you and on your future travels.
Surrounding yourself with happy and genuine people is what makes the difference in trips, and that’s why starting your travels abroad at Bodhi Surf School is a great idea! We see the significance of genuine conversation and stepping away from the fast-paced societies that now constitute much of our world. In every trip you take, there should be something you take with you onto the next. What could be better than simplicity and optimism?
When looking into traveling abroad for the first time, most people first look into the safety of the destination. The feeling of security is something we all seek, especially when traveling to unknown land for the first time. It’s important to know that anywhere you go there will always be some type of possible danger, but the same goes for everyday life, even in your hometown. It’s just necessary to always be conscious and aware of your surroundings, and to talk to the people who live in the place you are visiting for local tips and tricks. Costa Rica is considered to be very safe for tourists, family-friendly, and is one of the safest countries in Latin America. Additionally, as a small and peaceful country, there’s less concern about international threats.
Bodhi Surf School is located 200 kilometers from the capital city, San Jose, on the Southern Pacific coast. It is within the small, quaint town of Bahia Ballena, just a short jaunt away from the ocean. The people that live in Bahia Ballena are some of the kindest, most caring, and friendliest individuals I have ever met. The feelings of being welcomed and safe immediately hit you and you realize that you are in a very special and unique place indeed. You can walk down to the beach and catch the sunset over the beautiful Whale Tail, then head to one of the local, delicious restaurants in Bahia. Other nights, fantastic homemade meals will be made in Adrianne’s Kitchen here at Bodhi! Personally, I have never adjusted and felt this content so quickly in any of my travels. People seem to feel immediately at home and comfortable, and that’s what makes Costa Rica (and specifically Bahia Ballena) so unique.
Vast and diverse landscapes
If you want diversity and the opportunity to experience many different types of topography, then I would book your flight to Costa Rica and let the scenery captivate your attention for a week or two. There’s the central highlands that are home to four volcanoes that reach elevations of 12,000 feet. Costa Rica also sits between the Caribbean Sea on the Atlantic coastal plain and then the Pacific Ocean on the country’s Pacific slope. For one country, there’s a place for every type of person. There’s mountains for hikers, extensive coastline with countless waves for surfers, jungle for animal enthusiasts, and much, much more. Not to mention the warm, tropical climate and diverse wildlife that Costa Rica has to offer —it actually has one of the highest densities of biodiversity in the world. Just sitting back and listening to the sounds of all the animals around here is a noteworthy moment in my books. It is truly a treat to witness wild animals in their home habitats, and Costa Rica has so much: from dolphins to sloths, toucans to jaguars, you are highly likely to see many different animals here in Costa Rica.
For a first trip abroad, it can help give you a sense of what your travel preferences are, and can help steer the way for the rest of your travel career. The best thing about the vast and diverse landscape is the ability to connect with nature, something that in our fast-paced lives is often forgone. All the stressors and worries in your life can diminish in those moments and a sense of presence and awareness is created. Bodhi Surf School aims to forge a connection between its guests and the ocean where they learn to surf, and to reconnect them with their inner spirit as they practice yoga. The combination of the distinct landscape and opportunity to immerse yourself into all Costa Rica has to offer is a very compelling reason why your travels should start here.
Adventure is calling
With all of the diverse landscapes and protected areas, adventure is around every corner here in Costa Rica! So many outdoor activities, from zip-lining, rafting, hiking, to surfing, are all found here. The country is famed for being very environmentally-friendly and aware, and for wanting to protect its precious resources. With that said, many tourism companies utilize their businesses to facilitate a fun experience for their patrons, while also trying to minimize damage to the surrounding area. Bodhi Surf School is an example of that; as a B-Corp certified surf and yoga camp, they strive to reduce their impact on the environment and provide benefits to the community. It’s a place that inspires guests by setting a positive example, showing that everyone can take steps to have a minimal impact on their surroundings!
When you do Bodhi Sessions, you get get five surf lessons and five yoga classes that are geared to really help you understand these activities — or better yet, ways of life.. Bahia Ballena is an excellent place to learn to surf and or improve your surfing so if you start your international travel here, you can take on new waves around the world after with what you learn during your stay. After doing Bodhi Sessions for a week, I’m confident that surfing will be a priority in my future travel plans. What could be better than trying something new AND getting some new knowledge from the experience that you can take with you in your travels, gaining new and diverse experiences, and learning lessons to take with you with you back home and forward on your travels. When you start your travels in Costa Rica, you will forever carry with you optimism, appreciation for the environment, and new skill sets. It’s a new year full of possibilities, and if you’ve never traveled internationally and want to then you should start your new journey here in Costa Rica! And if you have a desire to surf, do yoga, and learn about yourself, I highly recommend you visit Bodhi Surf School.
Written by Hannah Walsh