Over the years we've been asked many questions from how to get to Shaka, what to do to prepare for surfing, and what to pack, to how big the mosquitos  are. We've answered all these below, plus a few more, to help you adequately plan and prepare for your vacation.

Simply select a question below to find your answer or use our search feature to find what you're looking for. We hope you'll find all your answers here but if not, feel free to shoot us an email.

Planning Your Vacation

> Is Shaka open all-year round?

Shaka is open all year except for the months of September and October. During these two months we are closed to enable renovation and maintenance around the villas and property.

> How far in advance should I make a reservation?

We recommend you make a reservation with us at least two months in advance. For large holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and Spring Break it is better to book four or five months in advance as we do fill up pretty fast.

> How do I make a reservation?

All reservations are made via email. You can contact us via our Book Now page. We require a 50% deposit to secure your reservation, and then the remaining 50% is due at least two weeks from arrival.

> How do I pay for my reservation?

We use PayPal for all payments. You can use either your own PayPal account or any major credit card to pay for your booking.

> Can I reserve a villa while I get my flights arranged?

For sure! We will happily reserve your villa for up to a week before payment is required.

> What happens if I need to cancel my booking?

If for some reason you have to cancel your booking we will refund 100% of payment if it is more than one month from your arrival date; 75% if more than one week from arrival; and 50% if less than a week from arrival. You can also change your reservation dates, depending on availability, without any fees or loss of money.

> Should I arrive at Shaka on a particular day of the week?

No, you can arrive and depart on any day of the week. Having said that, be aware that we don't run surf classes on Sundays. So, to make the most of a 7-day package, arrive on a Sunday, in preparation to commence six days of surf classes the next day.

> Where can I find your prices?

We've outlined the pricing for our Surf Package and Chill Package on our Rates page.

> What if I don't surf, can I come too? Is that cheaper?

For sure! Non-surfers are very welcome at Shaka. We have special prices for the Chill Package but, for not much more, why not come learn to surf with us...?

> What's included in the Surf and Chill packages?

We've outlined exactly what is and isn’t included in your stay at Shaka on our Rates page. Also, have a look at our Daily Schedule to know what things are happening on which days, but as a quick reminder – we serve dinner Sunday to Friday nights and we run surf classes from Monday to Saturday. There's a daily yoga class.

> Can I stay at Shaka for just one or two nights?

No, our minimum package is for 5 days. Our focus is on teaching people to surf, either those people who are starting out or more experienced surfers looking to advance their skills. It is difficult fitting everything into a one-week surf-coaching program and stays of only a few days really don’t allow us the time to cover everything that needs to be covered. If you're pushed for time, we'll squeeze everything into the 5-day package, however if you're really keen to learn to surf we highly recommend the 7-day surf package. You'll have surf classes on 6 of those days, which provides us with enough time to instruct you on the many aspects of surfing including water safety, wave theory, how to stand up on the board, the priority rules for wave catching, and gives you plenty of time in the water to practice. Many of our returning guests have choosen to stay for two weeks. Learning to surf is so much more than just learning how to stand on a surfboard and so staying a bit longer is going to go a long way to seeing some progress from catching broken white water waves to sitting on your board 'out the back' and surfing green unbroken waves.

> Will I be sharing a room with a stranger?

No. All Shaka accommodations are private and each has its own bathroom. All of our villas and rooms have queen-sized beds. Two of the villas have the potential to accommodate up to 3 guests, with a queen bed + single bed option.

To see what our rooms look like, check out our photo gallery at the bottom of the Rooms page.

> Can I book the whole of Shaka for my friends and myself?

Yes. We'd be more than happy to host you and your group of friends or clients. You may need to make your reservation some months ahead of time in order to find an available week. The cost is US$12,000 for a week. You can bring up to 8 people who can stay in the resort’s 4 villas. As per regular bookings, a 50% deposit is required to confirm a reservation.

> When is the best time of year to come to Shaka?

Our local beach, Playa Hermosa, offers some of the most consistent surf conditions for beginners in the world. With its rolling white water waves, sandy beach bottom, and lack of crowds or other hazards, Playa Hermosa provides perfect conditions to teach you how to surf at any time of the year. For intermediate surfers, or those newer to surfing 'green' waves, the dry season (referred to as our 'summer') offers conditions that are typically smaller. For more experienced surfers, the wet season or 'winter' swells can produce larger conditions more suited for people seeking to advance their skills performing maneuvers such as cutbacks, snaps, and top and bottom turns. For beginners, either season will offer you perfect conditions to start your surfing career. It is of course impossible to predict the conditions for any given week, however Costa Rica offers more consistently surfable conditions, even at the 'worst' times of year, than do most places at their best. And, while there are few reasons, or occasions, that we would need to cancel surf classes these are infrequent and likely to occur only a handful of times throughout the year. In Costa Rica the dry season months are from December through April, with December to March being more crowded as North American tourists escape the winter. The busiest months at Shaka are from December through April.

> Should I stay for one week or two?

This year about a third of our guests were returning for their second or third time and about half of those people stayed for two weeks to get more out of their surfing. Most guests do find that they are able to make significant progress in their second week as they have become more physically conditioned (surfing is tiring!) and have often progressed from surfing white water waves to paddling to 'the outside' to catch green unbroken waves. If you're thinking of staying for longer than a week and want to feel more physically prepared for your trip then head over here for some tips on preparing for your surf holiday.

> I'm not sure how long I want to stay – can I extend my booking after I arrive?

We'd love to have you stay on at Shaka although we may already have other bookings. When you arrive just ask us to check our availability.

> I'm travelling on my own, will I feel out of place?

Not at all. In fact, many of our guests, have made life-long friendships with other travellers that they've met while on holiday at Shaka. Throughout the season, roughly half our guests are independent travellers with slightly more than half of those being women. The remainder is made up of a fairly even spread of couples, groups of friends, and families with grown up kids. Obviously, there is a variation across the weekly demographic of our guests, but everyone who stays with us is fairly like-minded and wanting to make surfing the focus of their vacation. So, if you are travelling on your own be assured that you will be in good company.

> Do all the guests do activities and tours together or are most people just doing things on their own?

As mentioned above, about half our guests are solo travellers or two friends travelling together so it is fairly common that our guests do activities together. For example, each night everyone eats meals together, which provides a great opportunity to share stories and get to know each other. In addition, most Shaka guests come together for weekly activities such as enjoying a sunset drink at a local beach bar, dining out, zip lining, visiting the local infinity pool, or just playing cards in the communal rancho after dinner.

Getting to and from Playa Hermosa

> How do I get to Shaka from San Jose?

Shaka is located in Playa Hermosa on the lower end of the Nicoya Peninsula, about 15 minutes north of Santa Teresa (psst – don't mistake us with the Playa Hermosa further south near Jaco!). There are a few options for getting to Shaka from San Jose, depending on your time and your budget. Flying from San Jose to Tambor and then taking a cab is significantly quicker but also more expensive. In the intermediate price range is to travel via private shuttle, which is usually a door-to-door service (from the airport or your hotel in San Jose direct to Shaka). If your budget is limited and you are not in a hurry, take the public bus.

We’ve outlined each of these options in more detail over on our Find Us page.

> Can I fly directly to Playa Hermosa?

Unfortunately not. The closest airport is in Tambor but it's an easy drive between Shaka and the Tambor airport – approximately US$60 and 40 minutes.

> Can I rent a car in Costa Rica and drive to Playa Hermosa?

Yes. It is very similar to renting in the US. The most direct route would be to follow the same route as the buses – from San Jose to Puntarenas, cross with the ferry to Paquera, then drive around the bottom of the Nicoya Peninsula to Santa Teresa.
You can find the latest ferry schedule here. Playa Hermosa is approximately 10kms north of Santa Teresa.
Be aware that most of the roads on the peninsula are unpaved, infrequently maintained, and often in very poor condition. In the rainy season you will need a 4WD to get around and you're likely to find this more comfortable during the dry season as well.

> Do you provide airport or hotel transfers?

No, this is not included in our package rates, however we can recommend and assist you to make any transfers you would like to use.

> Where should I stay in San Jose?

We recommend a number of hotels in San Jose across all budgets, including The Hampton Inn (or any of the various "chain hotels" surronding SJO, namely the Marriots), as well as Los Volcanos. They're all in the suburb of Alajuela, where the airport is located. These hotels all provide a free airport shuttle service, wifi, and breakfast. If you will be staying overnight in San Jose and taking a private shuttle with Montezuma Expeditions the following day, talk to them about their hotel and shuttle packages.

Note - we don't receive any commission from these hotels. We simply suggest them because we've stayed there and have been happy with the facilities and the service provided.

> Is the San Jose airport actually in San Jose?

No. The San Jose airport is located in the suburb of Alajuela, about a 45-minute drive from downtown San Jose. The official airport name is Juan Santamaria International Airport and the airport code is SJO.

> Is there a Departure Tax when I leave Costa Rica?

Yes. While the tax is currently US$28, many airlines have already included this in the price of your tickets; complete list here. If your airline is not listed, you should pay the tax diretly at the airport.


> Do you teach complete beginners?

Yes. A large proportion of our guests are complete beginners wanting to learn to surf and our aim is to not only teach you how to surf, but also to provide you with the skills to analyze your own surfing technique once you leave us. This knowledge will enable you to assess whether the conditions are suitable for your level of surf and equip you to surf most beach breaks around the world. Like this you can make surfing a sport that you enjoy on future vacations or at home.

> I'm not very fit right now, does that matter?

Surfing is a great way to get fit, or to stay in shape. However, you do not have to be particularly athletic or to engage in any regular exercise regime in order to start surfing. Of course, like any sport, it will be physically demanding and the fitter you are, the more fun you will have. We have provided some tips here on things you can do to prepare for your surf holiday (but it's certainly not necessary) and of course staying for more than a week will give your body more time to physically adjust.

> I'd like to try surfing but I can't swim. What are my options?

You can have a huge amount of fun and also make surfing a sport that you enjoy for the rest of your life, without being able to swim. In fact, many of our past guests have not been able to swim, aren't confident swimmers, or have been scared of waves – and they've all thoroughly enjoyed the experience of riding their first wave with us! That is because beginner surf classes are always conducted in the 'white water', in no deeper than waist to chest-deep water. At Playa Hermosa we have perfect conditions on most days of the year for teaching beginners due to it's sandy beach bottom, the lack of hazards (e.g. rocks, reef, strong currents), and consistent rolling waves. Be aware though, as a non-swimmer you'll be restricted to surfing in the white water where you are never out of your depth. If (when!) you wish to progress to surfing bigger unbroken waves then you'll need to be able to comfortably swim 50m.

> How many students are there in each group?

The maximum number of students that we will ever place with any surf coach is three. However it depends on what specific skill you are working on, whether you are starting at the same time as other guests of a similar level, and your previous surf experience. We will never mix ability levels within groups. So it is more likely that you will experience a student-to-coach ratio of 2:1 or you may even receive one-on-one instruction. All our surf coaches are trained to give you individual attention and to find a drill and practice program to suit your needs. As surfing is a physically demanding sport, you're likely to find that your energy level is a greater limiting factor in your surf session, than the size of the group.

> What sort of waves do you have? Will they suit my level?

Our local beach is Playa Hermosa, which is a sandy-bottom beach break. At one end of the beach is a right-hand 'point break' (a wave that breaks off a rock rather than off a sandbank) and at the other end of the beach are some rocks only visible at low tide. As a beginner your surf instructor will take you to a part of the beach, in between these markers, where there are no hazards, rocks, or currents. Your surf instructor will teach you how to recognize different types of breaks, waves, and currents, and how to spot the best conditions for your surf level.

> What if the conditions are too small or too big?

On the west coast of Costa Rica, the Pacific Ocean, we rarely get conditions that preclude us from running surf classes. The waves here are some of the best in the world for surfing and each day we will assess the conditions when planning what's best for you and your lesson.

> Do surf classes ever get cancelled?

Rarely. There are a few reasons why we may decide to terminate a surf session early, or cancel it altogether. Specifically, we might be concerned if there are adverse weather conditions including thunderstorms, lightning, or excessive winds. Oceanic conditions which we look out for include strong currents, waves which are too big (or too small), or waves which are 'closing out' – when the whole wave breaks at once and there is no open wave face to surf. However, as mentioned above, the Pacific coast of Costa Rica provides us with some of the most consistent surf conditions throughout the year meaning that these events occur infrequently. If it does occur during your stay we will do our best to reschedule the class for another time, usually on the same day.

> Do we surf at any other beaches?

The vast majority of our coaching sessions occur at our local beach, Playa Hermosa, which is walking distance from Shaka. With its softer high tide waves and faster low tide waves, it is rare that we are unable to surf at 'our home break'. Depending on the tides and your own level of surf we may shift a surf session to a more suitable time in the day but it's most likely that it will still occur here at Playa Hermosa. There are other breaks near by, including those at the beaches of Santa Teresa, Playa Carmen, and Mal País.

> Can I surf outside the lessons?

Yes. You are welcome to surf as much as you want during your stay with us. In fact, students who practice their skills outside surf classes will observe faster progress – quite simply, the more waves you catch, the quicker you will acquire the skills needed. We only ask that, for beginner surfers with no prior experience with a surfboard, you don't take to the white water on your own, until you have had at least one surf lesson with us. In your first session we will teach you about water safety and board handling techniques as part of our responsibility to keeping our beaches safe for everyone. Surfers of any level should be aware of the etiquette of sharing the waves with others before paddling 'out the back' beyond the white water to catch green waves. Of course the more time spent in the water practicing your surfing the more quickly you will progress, however surfers also need to respect the power of the ocean, understand how currents work, and have the knowledge and skills to keep themselves, and others, safe in the water. You do not have to pay any extra for board hire as this is included in the price of your package.

> Do you coach intermediate and advanced surfers?

While the majority of our guests are complete beginners learning to surf for the first time, we also receive many new and return guests who are at an intermediate to advanced level and looking to fine-tune their skills. We'll discuss your surf level with you on arrival and plan our coaching schedule based on your needs. We never place students of different surf levels within the same group.

> Do I need to wear a wetsuit when I am surfing in Costa Rica?

No. The water temperature here is 27°C all year round (that's 80°F) so you won't need a wetsuit at any time of the year – you’ ’ll be comfortable surfing in board shorts or a surf bikini. Many people choose to wear a rash guard as well. This will help to prevent board rash from developing but also provides an additional level of protection from the sun. We have a small selection of rash guards here for people to use however, as we can't guarantee we will have exactly the right size for you, we recommend you bring your own.

> Can I surf wearing my glasses or contact lenses?

Many surfers wear contacts while surfing without any issue. People who wear glasses have often reported to us that, when they don't use contacts in the water, they experience difficulty seeing important things like beach reference points, the peak of the wave, or hazards like swimmers and other surfers. We recommend you wear contact lenses or check out the various surfer sunglasses, including prescription options, now available. We would not advise surfing with normal glasses.

> What can I do to prevent getting bruised hips/ribs/knees?

Getting bruises during surfing is commonplace, especially when new to surfing, using a bigger board, or falling off your board. In addition, some women get bruises on their hips, while for some men this occurs on the ribs. For hip and rib soreness, try applying rubbing alcohol to the area twice a day for a week prior to your surf trip. Also, ask your surf coach to look at your strategy for carrying or lying on your surfboard and provide some suggestions. Some people also experience sore or bruised knees. This is often a result of their technique for getting onto the board, or from using the knees to popup on the board. You can reduce and even eliminate both these problems. The first by placing your body and hips on the board first, rather than the knee, when getting onto your surfboard, and the second by correcting your popup and getting to your feet in one maneuver. Again, ask your surf coach for assistance during your surf session.

> Will I get board rash?

It depends. Board rash is very common in the first week of surfing although not everyone will get it. This is caused by the friction of your skin on the surface of the board or the wax. It occurs most frequently at the base of the ribcage. Some people are able to avoid this by wearing a rash guard while others will get it despite wearing one. In most cases the skin will heal and the rash will disappear after about the first week of surfing. In preparation, again, try applying rubbing alcohol to the area prior to your holiday. If you do have board rash applying Vaseline before putting on your rash guard can assist to reduce the friction.

> Can I bring my own board?

Yes. You are welcome to bring your own board although it is not necessary. For beginner and intermediate surfers you'll find that our range of boards will meet your needs. More experienced surfers prefer to bring their own board to work on specific skills. Regardless of your level we will find a board to suit you.

> What boards do you have at Shaka?

We have a range of fun boards and long boards from the brands – NSP, Torq, and Surf Factory. These vary in size from 7’2” to 10’2”. We also have various short boards for intermediate surfers.

> What are the internationally recognized surf coach awards?

Around the world there are many different governing bodies for surf coaching. For an award to be internationally recognized, the national governing body that awards it must be part of the International Surfing Association. All Shaka surf coaches hold this award.

Packing and Preparing

> What should I pack?

Not much! Costa Rica is warm all year round, as is the ocean water temperature, which means you can pack light. For surfing you'll need board shorts or a surf bikini (note, your standard beach bikini may not stay on in the surf!), and a Lycra rash guard. The rash guard will help provide some protection from both the sun and the rash caused when soft skin rubs against the board and wax. You'll also need plenty of broad-spectrum sunscreen. Playa Hermosa is a laid-back beach community with a simple surf lifestyle and this is reflected in the attire in and out of the water. During the day guys wear board shorts and a t-shirt or tank top and girls wear bikinis and a simple dress, sarong, or beach cover up. While it gets cooler in the evenings than it is during the day you're still not likely to need anything more than a t-shirt. You should also bring some clothes for our yoga classes and some simple eveningwear. People who are prone to mosquito bites should pack longer loose-fitting clothes. Don't forget your flip-flops! If you're coming in the rainy season you may want to bring a small umbrella.

> What can I do to get fit before I arrive?

You don't have to be fit to start surfing but in case you're extra keen, we've prepared a list of suggested activities that will help you feel feel prepared for your surf trip.

> What type of electrical adapter will I need for the plug outlets?

Costa Rican electrical sockets are the same as those in the U.S.

> What is the local currency in Costa Rica?

The local currency is Costa Rican colones however US dollars are also accepted everywhere in Costa Rica. If you pay for something in US dollars expect to receive colones in change.

> Do I need to bring much cash?

Yes! We'd recommend that you bring cash with you. While staying at Shaka itself you won’t need much money, except to purchase dinner on a Saturday night when we give our chef the night off. However, if you wish to try out the local cafes for lunch, buy a beach trinket or snack from the supermarket, or get a massage then you'll need cash with you for that as well. You'll also need cash for any other activities and tours you want to take and you should be aware that many restaurants and other services don't accept credit cards. Also, people often underestimate the cost of things in Costa Rica - it's useful to expect that you'll pay the same for goods and services here as you would back home. If you do decide to bring cash with you, then American dollars are accepted everywhere in Costa Rica, although we'd recommend that you avoid the larger denominations like the $100 bills. It is quite likely that you'll be given change in the local currency of colones.

** NOTE ** - there is no bank or ATM in Playa Hermosa. There is an ATM at the airport in San Jose, and there are two ATMs in the neighboring town of Santa Teresa (approximately 15 minutes away by taxi, costing roughly $15 each way) – there you will be able to withdraw both dollars and colones although at times the machines will only have one choice available.

> Will I be able to use my credit card?

Not widely. We strongly recommend that you bring US dollars. You can also withdraw the local currency colones out of the ATMs both at the airport and in nearby Santa Teresa. Many local restaurants and services accept cash only.

> Can I change money at the airport?

Yes you can although we don't recommend it, as the exchange rate is usually not that good. Everywhere accepts US dollars and if you need to exchange from another currency you can do this in one of the banks in Santa Teresa. You'll need to provide your passport or another form of accepted identification for this transaction.

> What is the exchange rate?

It has been relatively steady for the past 5 years at around 500 colones for 1 US dollar.

> Do I need to bring a beach towel?

No. We will provide you with beach towels and bath towels.

Staying at Shaka

> Do you get cell phone reception at Shaka?

No. There is no cell reception at the surf camp nor in most of Playa Hermosa. Some people get a signal near the local supermarket, down by the beach, and there is good reception in the neighboring town of Santa Teresa. At Shaka, we have a landline to make and receive local calls and we have wifi.

> Is there wifi at Shaka?

Yes. We have wifi in the villas as well as in the communal rancho.

> Where is the closest ATM?

The closest ATM is in the nearby town of Santa Teresa where there are two ATMs and a bank. If for some reason you have difficulty obtaining money from the ATM you are able to withdraw cash from a bank teller with your card, provided you have appropriate identification with you, such as a passport. Most local businesses only accept cash (US dollars or colones) not credit card. Santa Teresa is approximately 15 minutes away by taxi and costs roughly $15 each way.

> Is tipping expected at Shaka?

If at the end of your stay, you feel that we have provided you with the holiday you were looking for and that we have made your stay comfortable, enjoyable, and relaxed then, rather than tipping, we would really appreciate it if you left us a review online instead (see here for our TripAdvisor and Facebook pages). These reviews assist us to grow our business, providing a widespread form of 'word of mouth', which in turn benefits the entire team in a more long lasting way than does tipping. You can be assured that all the Shaka team are well paid professionals and are not reliant on, or expecting to be tipped. If at the end of your stay you feel that your surf coach or any other member of the team has provided you with an exceptional service, then any tip you offer will be humbly accepted.

> What can I expect a typical day at Shaka to look like?

We typically deliver our surf classes in the morning as we've found this to be the best part of the day - this is usually when the waves are at their best and often before other surf schools have started. At times we'll adjust the time of the class to suit the conditions, however on the whole, a typical Shaka day involves – 7am sunrise snack, 7.30am surf class, 9.30am well-deserved brunch, 12.30pm yoga then chill time until 6.30pm dinner. You can also check out our schedule here.

> What does the weekly schedule look like?

Guests often arrive at Shaka on the weekend but there are no hard and fast rules for this. Arrive on whichever day suits your schedule. We deliver surf classes every day except Sundays and we provide dinner every night except Saturday. Guests do their own thing for lunch although most find that the snack and brunch is satisfying enough to tide them over until dinner. There are a couple of eating options just a short walk away.

Many guests use their free time to free surf, or ask us to organize another activity for you. Some of the other options available to you include – zip-lining, horseback riding, ATV touring, standup paddle boarding, hiking, or having a massage.

> What happens at meal times?

Our volunteers prepare the early morning snack, and the daily brunch and nightly dinners are prepared by our chef, José. Most evenings the guests and staff eat together in the communal dining rancho. On Saturday night, guests take the opportunity to explore one of the local restaurants, either in Playa Hermosa or Santa Teresa. We take pride in our meal times and aim to provide you with delicious meals and friendly service so sit back and enjoy your holiday.

> Do you provide lunch?

No, we provide a 3-meal program specifically designed for our surfing and yoga schedule. It includes a light early breakfast of granola, yogurt, and fruit before surfing, then a breakfast around 9.30–10.00am after surf classes. Costa Rican coffee is served with the snack and brunch. You can see here for more details of our meals and menu.

> What type of food do you serve?

Our cuisine is largely traditional Costa Rican dishes including fresh local fruits and vegetables, fish and chicken, breakfast burritos, pancakes, rice and beans, fried plantains (a type of banana), quesadillas, and homemade pizzas. You can see more details of our meals here.

> Will I find some nightlife in Playa Hermosa?

Playa Hermosa is a small beachside town with just a few restaurants. Most people come here for the stunning sunsets and consistent surf, rather than the nightlife. If you are looking to explore a bar or two, you'll need to head into the nearby town of Santa Teresa, just a 15-minute cab-ride away. Thursday night tends to be the most popular night of the week however, after a full day of surf and yoga our guests usually opt for an early night after dinner so that they are fresh for the next morning’s surf session.

> Do you have a safe where I can store my valuables?

Yes. Each villa/room has its own private safe.

> What is the full capacity of Shaka?

Depending on bedding, we can fit up to 12 guests at Shaka. An average week is about 6-8 guests.

> Do you have air conditioning and hot water?

Yes. Each villa/room is air-conditioned and all showers and sinks have hot water.

> Is the local water safe to drink?

Yes, although it is very high in calcium. We provide filtered drinking water for guests at all times. Bring a water bottle from home, or buy a water bottle from the local supermarket, and you'll be able to refill this in the rancho and keep it chilled in the guest fridge.

> Is Shaka located on the beach?

No, but the beach is only a 3-4 minute walk from the property. Although you can't see the beach from where we are, you will easily hear the sound of the waves.

> Can I get a massage while I'm there?

Absolutely. Massages are not included in your Shaka package, however, we can arrange one for you from one of the many local masseurs. This can be done from the convenience of your own villa, in our private yoga studio, or you can walk 15 minutes on the beach to a nearby resort for a massage on the beach.

> What type of yoga can I do?

We provide a mix of Vinyasa, flow, and restorative yoga. All sessions cater for beginners through to more experienced yogis. Classes are held in our private yoga studio at the bottom of the property where you'll hear the sounds of the jungle and the ocean during your class.

> Is Shaka non-smoking?

Yes, the Shaka villas, rooms and communal dining area are all non-smoking.

> What about pets?

We regret to say that pets are not allowed at Shaka as we already have a resident dog, named Vida.

Non-Surfing Tours and Activities

> What other tours or activities are there to do near Shaka?

There are many other things to do in and around Playa Hermosa. Activities which might interest you include – zip-lining through the jungle tree tops, horse riding at low tide on the beach, hiring an ATV to visit local sights and waterfalls, standup paddle boarding, mountain bike riding, hiking through the protected Cabo Blanco reserve, snorkeling, getting a massage, or going on a half-day fishing adventure. Amongst many others!

> Should I book ahead for any of these activities or is it better to wait?

It is not necessary to schedule any tours ahead of time. The Shaka staff will be available during your stay to give you details of any outside activities that interest you. They can help you choose the best time and day for this, and make any bookings required.

> Can I go sports fishing at Playa Hermosa?

Sports fishing is a popular activity on the Nicoya Peninsula and tours depart from the nearby town of Mal País. The best fishing occurs during the cooler hours of the day, before it gets too hot and while the fish are still active. If you would like to go on a fishing tour during your stay simply let us know and we can arrange that. Bear in mind that this would require forgoing a morning surf class or scheduling this for Sunday morning when there are no surf classes.

> Can I also do standup paddle boarding at Playa Hermosa?

There isn't much flat water at Playa Hermosa so it isn't the best location to learn standup paddle boarding. However, approximately half an hour away there are suitable beaches so if this is an activity that you'd like to try simply let us know and we can arrange a tour for you. No previous experience is necessary.

Health and Safety

> Do I need to get any shots or vaccinations before travelling to Costa Rica?

There are no official vaccination requirements for entry into Costa Rica and most people do not get any shots before arriving here. You can read the latest US governmental advice here.

> Should I take out travel insurance?

Yes. You should always have travel insurance whenever you travel. This covers you in the unfortunate event that you have to miss some, or all, of your trip but are ineligible for a refund from us under our cancelation policy. Our cancelation policy is as follows: We refund 100% if more than 1 month from arrival, 75% if more than 1 week from arrival, 50% if less than 1 week from arrival. You can also change your reservation, pending availability, without any fees or loss of money.

> Do I need medical insurance?

Yes. You should always have medical insurance whenever you travel outside of your own country. Ensure that your policy covers you for surfing as some policies may classify this as an 'excluded event'. Your medical insurance should also cover you in the unfortunate event that you require emergency evacuation or repatriation.

> How common is petty theft at Playa Hermosa?

We have never had any incidents of theft at Shaka. Even so, we strongly advise that you do not leave any valuables, particularly electronic goods such cameras, mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and e-readers, on display and/or unguarded – either when staying at Shaka, or when travelling around Costa Rica in general. At Playa Hermosa, particularly during peak times such as Christmas, Easter, and Spring break, it is not uncommon for cars to be broken into, or flip flops to go missing from the beach, so leaving valuables unattended is unadvisable.

> Do you have somewhere I can lock my valuables?

Yes. There is a safe in each of the villas/rooms.

> Is it safe for women to travel by themselves in Costa Rica?

Many of our guests at Shaka are solo travellers and, of those, about half are female. None of our guests have ever reported feeling uncomfortable travelling on their own, feeling targeted as a woman, or feeling unsafe at any point during their trip. Naturally, you should remain aware of your belongings at all times while using services such as public transport, in airports, and at ATMs where common sense prevails. Be sure to use official taxis as marked by a yellow taxi symbol on the side of the vehicle.

> Is there somewhere nearby where I can buy toiletries and other goods?

There is a supermarket in Playa Hermosa just a few minutes walk away from Shaka. Here you can buy items such as toiletries, sunblock, and other basic necessities. A greater range of products can be purchased in the nearby town of Santa Teresa, about a 15-minute taxi ride away. Be aware that goods in Costa Rica are likely to cost the same as they would if purchased at home.

> Can I surf if I am pregnant?

Unfortunately no. We are unable to offer surf classes to guests who are pregnant. If you become pregnant after making your reservation then our standard cancellation policy applies. Pregnant guests are of course welcome to join us as non-surfers!

A bit about Costa RicA

> Should I be worried about sharks?

No. There have never been any reports of shark attacks in Playa Hermosa.

> Should I bring bug or mosquito spray?

It depends – bugs and mosquitos are not a big problem although it depends on the time of year, and how susceptible you are to being bitten. Some guests report getting bitten by mosquitos - this is more common in the wet season when the larvae are able to breed in the various water reservoirs and puddles created by the regular rains. If you're prone to being bitten then we recommend you bring some bug spray with you.

> How dangerous are the scorpions?

According to this source none of the 12 species of scorpions found in Costa Rica are dangerous to humans. All but one of the species is likely to give you nothing more painful than the sting of a bee or a wasp.

> What wildlife will I see around Shaka and the beach?

On most days Howler monkeys, squirrels, and monitor lizards can be seen around the property and on the brief walk to the beach. Other local wildlife such as coatis, armadillos, raccoons, and 'white face monkeys' are also seen quite frequently. If you're down by the beach early enough you might also catch a glimpse of a mother turtle heading back to the water after laying her eggs, or see her babies make their first journey to the water after hatching. Just remember not to get too close or to provide any assistance – this journey is a critical part of their development. If you wish to see more local wildlife ask us to book a hiking tour through the Cabo Blanco Reserve for you. Don't forget to look up while you're walking around!

> Will I see sloths?

Unfortunately not. During the dry season there are months without rain on the Nicoya Peninsula and sloths prefer the more-moist conditions found in other parts of the country.

> What about turtles?

It’s not uncommon to see turtles returning to the sea after laying their eggs on the beach overnight. They lay in the soft sand where the beach meets the jungle. If you see them at night keep a distance as they're easily scared off from their mission – definitely no torches! Likewise baby turtles can be seen heading for the water in the first few hours of the day. There are dangers for them in this journey with the risk of being prey for predatory birds or dogs. By all means keep dogs away from them but leave them to complete the journey on their own.

> When is the 'wet season' and what is it like?

The months of May, June, July, and August will typically see afternoon showers, and during these months overnight thunderstorms become more frequent. The rain has the effect of washing away the dust that has accumulated on the trees and shrubs during the dry season, returning the jungle to its rich, vibrant, and lush appearance. During these months, trees that lost their leaves during the dry season regrow their foliage and many flowering plants come into bloom again. Costa Rica is at its most beautiful during the wet season! In terms of the surf conditions, it's usually only in October that the rain can be cumbersome but even then the waves are more consistent than in most other countries, even at their best times of year. Occasionally there will be a high-pressure weather system that causes rain across the whole of Central America for a few days – this can happen any time between May and October but doesn't happen every year consistently. Even if that was to occur during your stay, it’s only likely to be for a few days out of a week, affecting only the sun tanning conditions, rather than the surf. During the wet season the swell is very consistent – typically we have sunny mornings and glassy surf sessions followed by just an hour or two of rain in the early afternoon. When it does rain during the day this can have the effect of cooling the land, which reduces the midday winds – resulting in an afternoon 'glass off' (meaning ideal clean and smooth surf conditions).

Other Stuff...

> Do you ever offer discount prices?

Rarely. We don't have a low season except for during the months of September and October when we are closed for maintenance. We do offer a cheaper rate for guests on our Chill Package and because we love it when people come back to Shaka we offer a 15% discount for all our return guests. From time to time, our newsletter subscribers will receive an exclusive promo code.

> I am interested in volunteering at Shaka. How can I apply?

We have a great volunteer program mostly involving serving meals to our guests, preparing and putting away surfboards, and generally keeping the communal area clean and tidy – in exchange for food and accommodation. If you're interested in volunteering with us you can see more details on our Volunteer page.

> Do Shaka staff speak English or Spanish?

At Shaka we have both English and Spanish speaking staff. Some of our 'back of house' staff speak only limited English while most of the 'front of house' staff speak fluent English. All your coaching will be in English although we also have Spanish-speaking surf coaches. Around Playa Hermosa most people do speak at least a few words of English although Spanish is the dominant language.

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