Greg GordonSurf CR

25 Years Ago in Costa Rica

Surf CR logo25 Years Ago in Costa Rica – Greg Gordon

Happy 25th Birthday Quepolandia! Your magazine has been a part of my entire time living and visiting Dominical and has always been a bulletin of what was happening around Quepos and the entire southern zone.

I started my surf report in 1998, twenty five years ago. I had a tiny Canon printer and a chunky Toshiba laptop, and would print out the tides, a color model of the NOAA forecasts and text surf reports from friends around Costa Rica. I owned a cheap 50 mm telephoto lens and a worn Nikon for taking photos of the locals and tourists surfing. This was pre-digital, so I would have to take the bus to San Isidro, drop off the film at the photomat, and then take the trip again a few days later to pick up the prints.

Me, 25 years ago

I would get up predawn and be in the lineup at sunrise, hopefully with the rising tide as that is when Dominical has better shape. At low tide it can be sketchy—sand sucking death barrels, only ridden by the most experienced riders at the time like the Montoyas (Alan, Jose, Junior, Vinny on his boogieboard), Ronnie Obando, Brad Baron, or Mike McGuiness. After an hour or so I would paddle in to get some shots of these guys getting shacked or hucking spray.

It was hard to get out of town to surf, since most of the coastal highway was not paved. It would take up to two hours to get just from Dominical to Quepos. Every small bridge along the way was a life or death experience, with only some rusted train track leftovers used for the crossing. Sometimes it was easier to just drive across the riverbed. And from Quepos north it was a slalom course of potholes, where either lane could be the best one. My thoughts on each harrowing drive was, “The bus always wins”.

Ferry crossing

The drive south from Dominical to Uvita was only slightly better, and when you drove it at night you would witness thousands of purple and orange crabs race across the rutted road. When I headed to Pavones, it was easier to take the bus from San Isidro. It took about 7 hours, and you would have to take a very precarious two-car ferry across the Rio Coto, and then sometimes help the bus driver push the bus up the steeper muddy roads towards the end.

Site of the marina

Twenty-five years ago there was no marina, and no jetty, and although it does light up from time to time, it used to be more lined up at the Quepos Rivermouth. But who would want to surf it? That water used to look foul, from nearby cow and pig farms, plus gutters that were basically latrines. Now, even with more development, it appears to be less polluted.

Twenty-five years and over 1000 surf reports later, I am still amazed at how beautiful this country is, and how relatively uncrowded our corner of the country is. I can surf at beaches near Quepos and not see another surfer for miles. So Shhhhh. Let’s appreciate what we have for the next 25 years.