Steve’s Surfin’ Safari to Costa Rica

After all the travel we did last year, 2024 was supposed to be “The Year We Stay Home”. But then, last December, we learned that one of our dearest friends, Steve, wanted to celebrate his 60th birthday with a trip to Costa Rica, so he could get some surf lessons, and they wanted us to come along. After much deliberation (seriously- it might have been 2 whole seconds!), we said we wouldn’t miss it. We just returned from that trip, and it was definitely worthy of a blog post!

Steve and his wife, Challen, lived four houses away in our neighborhood in Indianapolis. We met them when Maddie and Bennett were about 8 and 5, and it wasn’t long before Bennett became best buds with their youngest son, also named Bennett! (They’re still very close friends, and are both living in Brooklyn, figuring out the adult world.) When Fran and I started brewing beer at home, Steve would come over in the evenings and we’d drink good beer and talk about boats – before we met Steve, we didn’t know what a trawler was! In 2015, we partnered with Steve and Challen and bought our first trawler, the Turtle E. Awesome, which they still own. After we bought Smartini, we all had Christmas in the Bahamas together in 2016. They now live in Lakeland, Florida – a short 2-hour hop in our little airplane – so we hope to see them regularly from now on, after too many years of not seeing them very much.

A particularly cold day at Disney World with Steve and Challen and all the kids, a long time ago!

The main reason for choosing Costa Rica was so that Steve could do some surfing, so he chose a little community called Nosara, on the Pacific coast, with several surf schools. We flew into Liberia, where we hooked up with Steve and Challen, and three other couples – Erin and Doug, Connie and Scott, and Denise and Chris. Erin is Challen’s sister, and we’ve had a lot of fun with her and Doug over the past 20 years. Connie and Denise are great friends of Challen since forever, but we had met them only a time or two, and never spent any time together. We rented a 5-bedroom house in Nosara, with a pool and a huge backyard that ended at the jungle, and it was a perfect place to base the birthday shenanigans.

This giant guanacaste tree was part of the pool deck behind the house. L-to-R: Chris, Scott, Denise, Connie, Challen, Steve, Erin, Doug, Fran, me.

Over the next five days, there was fishing, surfing, hiking, bird watching, monkey watching, coati watching, eating, drinking, and lounging by the pool. And after we all returned to Liberia for our flights home, Connie, Scott, Fran, and I stayed an extra day and experienced 3-toed sloths, venomous snakes, more birds, coffee, and chocolate. I’m still too tired from all of that to write about it, so I’ll just show you the pictures.

The Birthday Boy with the first of six yellowfin tuna we caught our first day (the only day we fished).
Five of the six. That’s First Mate Johnny (16 yrs old) doing the photobomb.
One of four dinners based on tuna the rest of the week. (Plus two lunches, and lots of snacking.) Thanks mostly to Scott and Doug, we ate very, very well!
Some of the coatis that visited our back yard a couple times each day. Scott called them “racoon monkeys”, a pretty accurate description!
Doug and Erin dragged Fran and Steve on one of their infamous all-day hikes. Based on the smiles, this must have been early in the hike, ’cause they were pretty bedraggled by the end.
Typical Nosara sunset, with everyone but Erin and Doug. (They were probably off hiking.)
Howler monkeys lazing about. Part of a troop of more than a dozen, within an easy walk from our house, and no more than two minutes away from the nearest house.
Howler monkey checking us out.
The last afternoon in Nosara, we did a cruise on a catamaran, which included this unusually red sunset, and a stop on a pink sand island…
… and some amazing “snacks”! Sashimi, ceviche, pico de gallo, charcuterie, hummus, guacamole – all freshly made, and delicious!
Back in Liberia, we found surprisingly good beer just a short walk from our hotel! (Which was nice, because most of the beer in Costa Rica is, to be kind, not so Pura Vida.)
Most of the crew left on Saturday, but Connie, Scott, Fran, and I stayed another day, and got to see some of the rainforest creatures, like this giant tree frog, who would have mostly filled the palm of my hand.
And sloths! This picture was taken with Fran’s phone, and no zoom – he was that close! He raised his head from a long nap for the photo, then went right back to the nap.
An eyelash viper. He sat still the whole time we were taking pictures, even when our guide moved the branch a little for a better photo. Very calm, non- aggressive, and although poisonous, they rarely bite humans, and their bite is rarely fatal to humans.

We would definitely go back to Costa Rica, but I’m not sure we’d return to Nosara. It’s fun, and funky, and has most of what you might want or need on a vacation like this, but it was surprisingly expensive – like, Florida Keys expensive. I think it’s been discovered by too many people with too much money – expensive new homes are being built all over the place.

Steve shredding the tasty waves at Nosara to celebrate officially being OLD!

It was a great week in a beautiful place. We made new friends, renewed old friendships, and celebrated the birthday of one of our best friends. I can’t say that any of us are likely to join the pro surfing circuit, but we sure had fun!

I’ll leave you with a joke and a cocktail. First, the joke: A grasshopper walks into a bar and the bartender says “Hey, we have a drink named after you!”. The grasshopper replies “You have a drink named Steve?”

Now the cocktail, called Steve, that I made up for our trip:

  • 1 part dark rum
  • 1 part Fireball cinammon whiskey
  • 1 part Grand Marnier (or Cointreau, or even triple sec)
  • 4 parts pineapple juice
  • 1 part mango juice
  • Shake or stir with ice, serve in a tall glass, garnish with a slice of pineapple

Cheers, and Happy Birthday, Steve!!!

8 thoughts on “Steve’s Surfin’ Safari to Costa Rica”

  1. Looks like another fabulous trip. Thanks for sharing. All those great pictures and your great writing makes me feel like I am there with everyone.

  2. Missed you at the gym but you can ask Cara or Liz…I kept up with abs! Sounds like a fabulous trip! Love the photos! See you soon…I’ll be in Disney next week!

    1. Cara told us yesterday – you were there doing the work every day! See you next week, Marie.

    1. Bob, I see your FB posts occasionally – you don’t need to live vicariously through anyone! (Happy Anniversary, by the way.) I hope you enjoy the “Steve”!

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