Playa Hermosa Guanacaste Fishing and Surfing Vacation Strategy

Original article authored by Brian Farley and published by The Costa Rica Star on Tuesday, January 24, 2012. Brian Farley is the owner and operator of CR Surf Charters. CR Surf ChartersThere have been a lot of changes in travel lately. Airline fees tend to bring you to your knees in the past few years. I want to touch base with the traveling surfer and fisherman who are interested in traveling to Costa Rica. All of you “water sport junkies” have been hit really hard where it hurts the most, your wallet. I am on a mission to get the most out of my money, have the best time, and not go home saying, “I got screwed on that one!”

Let’s start off with the surfers. I know the first thing that comes to mind is “BOARD BAG”. You are correct! It sounds like it was the airlines first thing that came to mind as well. Truth be told, it was cheaper for me to fly my dog out here than it was for my 1 board bag! OUCH!! Here is an example of what 1 airline has to say. I will not mention what airline for a lot of reasons. *Airlines will accept one surfboard or one surfboard bag containing up to four boards per customer as checked baggage, weighing 50 pounds or less for a service charge fee of $100 (each way) for domestic travel, and $200 (each way) for international travel. This service charge is in addition to any excess and overweight baggage charges that may apply. The skeg/fin must be removed or well padded. The entire board must be encased in a suitable container to avoid scratching. *Airlines shall not be liable for damage to a surfboard. Excess valuation may not be purchased for a surfboard/wakeboard. Surfboard/wakeboard and surfboard bags over 70lbs (32 kg) will not be accepted as checked baggage. Note: Surfboards will not be accepted during an excess baggage embargo when no excess baggage is allowed. Exception: Surfboards will be accepted to Costa Rica during an embargo period.

I know some of us are married to our boards, but is it really worth $400 round trip?? Not for me!!! This is my traveling tip. Rent or buy. What I am getting at, is that you can buy a decent used surfboard here for around $200 or rent one for around $25 per day. I am big on buying one and then sell it to a local for half of what you bought it for. This is the reason why. I always end up finding someone in the water that ends up being pretty cool. I love finding out what it is like in the town and what the locals do before I visit any tourist crap err, I mean trap. I usually let the guy or girl know that I will be getting rid of my board for ½ of what I bought it for and I only rode it for a week or two. If they like the deal, 99% of the time I end up at a local bonfire on the beach, find some secret surf breaks, or just meet the family and friends. Then, I usually just give it to them and ask if I can use it when I come back. To me, this is worth its weight in gold! If you end up not finding anyone, you just go back to the surf shop you bought it from and they will gladly take it back for 1/2 or more of what they sold it to you for.

So a quick breakdown is, spend $100 with a good karma on helping a local, or spend $400 because you like your board. For me, the term ”No Brainer” comes to mind. Alright, now it’s time for all of you angler’s out there. I will start off with the flight rules and regulations of gear and dry ice and then we will get to what I recommend. Here is an example from the same airline and a new rule I just learned. *Airlines accept one item of fishing equipment per customer as checked baggage. An item of fishing equipment consists of the following: 2 rods 1 reel 1 landing net 1 pair of fishing boots 1 tackle box. All items must be properly encased in a suitable container not to exceed a total of 115 linear inches (L W H) and 50 pounds (23kg). Fishing equipment over 80 inches in length will not be accepted as checked baggage. If applicable, the first or second bag fee applies to fishing equipment. Fishing equipment carried in addition to the baggage allowance will be assessed at the current excess baggage charge for a single piece, whether or not it is presented as a single piece. *Airlines is not liable for damage to Fishing equipment. Excess valuation may not be purchased for fishing equipment.

Wow. You had better be in love with your fishing gear! I also checked the ice chest deal with dry ice in it. My jaw dropped to the floor. Just take my word for it. NOT WORTH IT. First, I will start out by saying the local fisherman have excellent gear. Just that alone will help you with your decision. I can say it is fun, and worth it, to just bring down your favorite reels alone. This is for the bragging stories of what your reel has caught in its life! I would never go through the nonsense of bringing rods. Understand that the local fishermen have the proper rods and reels for what fish you will be hunting down. If you end up bringing fantastic reels, and they don’t take up that much room in your suitcase, the Captain will have no problem using them. The new airline rule with reels is you can NOT have line on them if it is in your carry-on. Try to remember this so you don’t have to cut the line out of your reel at the airport trash can! Especially, if you have some of that expensive braided line on them. There really is no purpose of this rule. I guess there are angry fishermen strangling people on flights! Ha!

I am a big fan on going fishing, eating what you can, and giving the locals the leftovers that you don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars to bring back on your flight. This will get you a lot of respect with the locals. You will probably be asked to join them for a fish fry. Again, priceless! If you want to try to get some money back, it is very possible here. In our little town of Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste the local restaurants will pay you for any extra fish you might not have use for. This is great. They also will offer to cook the fish for you if they can keep some of the extra as well. Jackpot! Last, but not least, if you are not going to eat, donate, or sell your catch of the day, release it. Our oceans in Costa Rica are getting hammered by the commercial fisherman. Please make sure everyone is happy at the end of your epic day of sport fishing. Sometimes, it is even the fish who are happy, as they get released and are able to fight on for another day. These little tips help me travel and sleep well at night.

Just picture it in your mind: You are on the plane, heading home thinking… I surfed some great waves, caught some great fish, met some great people, and I have no overpaid special bags that I am worried about when I arrive. To me, that is having a Pura Vida moment.


  • The coolest thing you could do is help out the locals when you go to their country and enjoy their surf. Props to you. That’s the way to keep dem positive vibes in the ocean. Sweet!

    March 28, 2012
  • Chris

    If there were only more people like you running businesses we would all be doing better…keep it up my brotha!

    March 31, 2012
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