I find great joy in photographing and documenting the beautiful places God created in the world. Travel photography is one of my favorite creative outlets. I find a lot of peace creating this kind of art. This winter, I went to Costa Rica to explore the coast, expand my spanish speaking and learn how to surf. Years ago, I read an article in Entrepreneur magazine about a woman from England who traveled to Costa Rica to go to a surf camp and I loved her story. It inspired me to dream of surfing—the article and all those fantastic surf movies like Blue Crush, Soul Surfer & Chasing Mavericks, of course.
I woke up at dawn nearly every day to photograph the blue hour and the sunrise and then went off to my surf class.
I love the Blue Hour. The night sky begins to awaken as blues and violets take away the darkness. One hour before the sunrises, the waves roll gently in. A sleepy beach town begins to awaken as surfers wax their boards and stretch out on the beach before attacking the waves. The sun slowly creeps over the mountains and brings warmth to the sand. Runners speed across the beach as part of their morning routine. The birds fly in perfect unison to descend upon the waves to hopes of catching their breakfast. This is the hour before sunrise. An hour often missed by sleepy travelers. But, if you ever want to experience a place in perfect peace, it is an hour you do not want to miss. In stillness and silence, you can enjoy the untouched beauty of a place. Whether in a metropolitan city or in a natural paradise: it’s a time to be treasured. To do so, I recommend simply exploring your destination about 30 minutes before dawn. And remember, on vacation, there’s always time for a siesta.
One of my favorite parts of the day was watching the sun set. It was a nightly ritual for many of the residents of Playa Hermosa and one of my favorite parts of their paradise. By the time the sun hit the water, it would disappear under the blue ocean beyond within two minutes. After that, many nights, the sky would illuminate with different colors giving a show for all on the coast to see.
Dawn and sunset created the rhythm of my day. In both moments, I soaked in the calm and the colors of this coastal paradise. I feel like I captured the heart of this place through my photography and I’m so happy to share some of my favorite scenes with you.
(The first two photos are of me: I set up the shots and the scenes and had a friend push the shutter – I’m so happy to have a few photos of me in this beautiful place to remember the first time I popped up in a wave, the first time I rode a wave and the day I rode 12 out of 15 waves! Such an accomplishment: one I will never forget. And this is what I believe the power of a photograph can do: instill & cement a memory.)
I will say that learning to surf was one of the most difficult things I have ever attempted. I’m athletic, love being outside, I love the ocean and thanks to Ismael, now I can surf! The waves were strong the first week of school and I had to learn everything from popping up, to paddling, to surf etiquette and how to read waves. It was a quick education. Each day of surf class, we’d paddle and work in the ocean for 1-3 hours — it was dependent upon how much I could handle each day. Learning to surf was definitely something I had to fight for, but I’m so thankful I did. I learned a lot from being in the waves and being fully present in the ocean. I glean a lot about life from nature and am thankful God gave me eyes to see things in His creation.
I learned not to fight the ocean: for me this meant, not fighting so hard or working so much when things are rough and just being at peace with what is instead of working my way out of the pain or the trials. | I learned to take what is given to me each day: Every day there are waves to surf. Some days are bigger and more exciting than others. But every day we can practice and put in the work to improve for when the big waves come. | I learned that not every wave is my wave: You can always chase after waves, but sometimes someone else is in the perfect position to catch it. Instead of stealing their wave and dropping in on them, you have to be patient for your wave. Seems so much like life to me: not everyone’s experience is meant to be my experience—God has the perfect experiences for me. | I learned that I don’t need to doubt myself: I can’t rely on other people’s opinions of me change who I am or change my view of myself. If I know something about myself, I should trust that. | I learned to breath: Without breathing and relaxing, you won’t be powerful enough to pop up and catch that wave. Surfing has a lot to do with being chill and breathing. You can’t get worked up and anxious out there, or you’ll be too weak to transition into the wave. So I’m learning to breath… learning to be chill… and learning to be OK waiting for my waves.
So for me, surfing was more than just another sport to try—it was another beautiful way to experience the world and the beauty of nature God created.
I huge shoutout to the amazing and kind team at The Perfect Sunset School: Gustavo for helping me coordinate my time in Costa Rica | Ismael for teaching me to surf with great patience and encouragement | Danya for teaching me and improving my Spanish | Augusto for your kindness, encouragement and helpful spirit | and to all of my fellow Perfect Sunset School friends from around the world: I learned so much from you and enjoyed spending time with you as we all learned new things and enjoyed this beautiful place God made. You can also read my review of the school here at Trip Advisor and visit The Perfect Sunset School on Facebook here.