Caribbean Coast Places

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Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Surfing

Surfing is the name of the game in Puerto Viejo, for everyone from newbies to Kelly Slaters. The best conditions are late December through March, but there's action all year. Longtime surfers compare the south Caribbean to Hawaii, but without the "who-do-you-think-you-are?" attitude. There are a number of breaks here, most famously Salsa Brava, which translates to "wild sauce." It breaks fairly far offshore and requires maneuvering past some tricky currents and a shallow reef. Hollow and primarily right breaking, Salsa Brava is one gnarly wave when it gets big. If it gets too big, or not big enough, check out the breaks at Punta Uva, Punta Cocles, or Playa Chiquita. Boogie boarders and bodysurfers can also dig the beach-break waves at various points along this tantalizingly beautiful coast.

Aventuras Bravas. If you've always wanted to try surfing, consider the friendly, two-hour $50 surf school at Aventuras Bravas. You start out with a small wave near the bus stop, and get a money-back guarantee that you'll be standing by the end of the lesson. (A two-hour private lesson will run you $60.) You can also rent equipment here. Inside Rockin' J's hostel, 1 km (½ mile) southeast of Stanford's, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, 70403. 2750–0626. www.braveadventure.net.

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