Our adventure traveller and face-your-fears ambassador, Penny Lee Brown, finally faced her fears of the sea in gloriously relaxing Costa Rica. After many failed attempts at surfing in storm-battered Blighty, all it really took was one onsetting panic attack, a group of caring souls with good vibes, and a micro-dose of Pura Vida to get her up and smiling.  

Micro-dosing Pura Vida Helped Me Surf, by Penny Lee Brown.

Firstly, “Pura vida” is a Costa Rican saying that encapsulates the essence of a simple, positive, and care free life, literally translated to “pure life” or “simple life,” it embodies a philosophy of embracing joy, gratitude, and optimism.

A couple of years ago, lacking some of the above during a time when life felt like a series of one-day chapters, I wrote an article titled ‘Feel The Fear, Do The Things.’

In that piece, I delved into the importance of facing our fears head-on. However, one fear continued to elude my conquering… the fear of the sea. Not just sharks and faceless sea monsters, I’m referring to the overwhelming sensation of losing control, being battered by waves, and struggling for breath amid the chaos of the surf.

Feel The Fear, Do The Things

Reflecting on the way I’m able to vividly describe the fear, it’s no wonder I hesitated. Those daunting images flew around and around in my mind whenever I thought about trying again.

My fear of the sea doesn’t extend to messing around in the waves, swimming a fair bit out, but enough that if something were to graze my leg I could quickly swim, screaming, back to shore (unless the monster eats me, of course).

Well… if you’ve got this far, dear reader, I sense you’re invested in finding out if I did it or not.

So, here’s the great news, I eventually confronted that fear!

It wasn’t easy. Salty tears were shed into saltier sea, on the beach, and onto the shoulders of the beautiful empathetic souls that were with me, with an impending panic attack lurking. Already struggling to breathe I didn’t think I could. But, I did it!

Costa Rica deserves the credit, specifically the renowned Santa Teresa Beach. The tranquil ambiance of our address for the week, Nantipa- A Tico Beach Experience, and the infectious energy from my surf instructor, Pablo (legend) played pivotal roles in this triumphant moment.

Nestled on the captivating Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa emerges as the ultimate haven for wave enthusiasts, drawing surf aficionados from around the world. Maintaining a sweet little hippy vibe, this Pacific gem caters to both novices and seasoned pros, offering pristine sandy stretches at Playa Santa Teresa and Playa Carmen, ideal canvases for whatever your surf day looks like.

For the laid back maestros, the nearby breaks of Mal País and Mar Azul are your playgrounds, offering challenging waves that dance to their own mesmerising rhythm. Amidst the rhythmic crashes, Santa Teresa encapsulates the spirit of Pura Vida living, where every swell is the start of a good story, and every ride becomes a sun-soaked adventure.

If you’re going to do it, my advice would be to make sure your instructor knows you’re scared. Tell them what you’re scared of and they’ll make you feel at ease. Actually, I’m not even sure if all instructors would, but I wholeheartedly recommend that if you’re on a trip to Costa Rica in 2024, put your trust in the instructors organised by Nantipa.

In fact, go ahead and just book your stay at Nantipa to live the dream for a few days. The villas and bungalows are nothing short of stunning, providing a private oasis with stylish decor that seamlessly blends with the natural surroundings. It felt like living in a Pinterest board, complete with dreamy sunsets and the soothing melody of waves just outside the window.

Nantipa’s beachfront, a sandy strip right outside your door, invites you to relax on the beds with a book, test the cocktails (purely for research purposes, of course), or stroll along the shoreline looking beautiful. The beachfront service is impeccable, allowing you to chill in a hammock and soak in the Pura Vida vibes.

After a day of surfing, horse-riding, shopping, or pretending-not-to-be-scared-of-the-sea-for-a-casual-swim, Nantipa offers the ultimate Costa Rican beach luxury with the guilt-free environmentally friendly ethos.

And yes, my dreams came true when I stood up on that surfboard! After tears, panic, and a stern pep talk, I did it. At the wave’s end, I jumped off, threw my arms into the air, and screamed with a mix of laughter and tears—finally conquering that lingering fear.

Just like my tears, the fear was but a drop in the ocean compared to the pride and joy I felt (still feel) for doing that.

Thank you, Nantipa, you absolute babe.

Hotel Nantipa (prices approx, conversion rate as of Jan ’24)

  • Nanku Suite – from £312 per night including breakfast
  • Manti Bungalow – from £355 per night including breakfast
  • Ninta Beachfront Bungalow – from £411 per night including breakfast
  • 3-bedroom Beachfront Villa – from £1,263 per night 

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