Is there anything that screams ‘paradise!’ more than that perfect combination of sun, heat, cool water spray, and all your favorite people enjoying life side by side? If you ask us, then the answer is no, definitely not.
For that reason alone, wakesurfing is one of our all-time favorite watersports – and we just so happen to have set up shop at one of the best wakesurfing lakes in the world: Lake Arenal, Costa Rica, the ultimate destination for anyone looking to try wakesurfing for the 1st, 10th, or 100th time.
Here is everything you need to know – and a few insider tips for good measure.
WHAT IS WAKESURFING?
Wakesurfing is surfing on a special board in a boat’s wake – or, in other words, the waves it creates as it speeds through the water.
Not to be confused with windsurfing – which, as you can probably guess, uses the wind to propel the board along the water – wakesurfing shares some similarities with the very popular pastime, wakeboarding. It can, however, be a little more challenging, thanks to the fact that surfers are not attached to the wakesurf board (or connected to the boat)!
Wakesurfing is pretty different to regular surfing, but there are enough similarities that surfers tend to pick it up pretty fast.
The best part about wakesurfing is that the wave is always perfect. There’s no waiting around on the shore for good conditions; the boat makes the wave, and we configure it for you.
IS WAKESURFING HARD TO LEARN?
There is a learning curve, and that learning curve will be steeper if you don’t have any prior experience in watersport, but we’ve seen plenty of beginners get a handle on the basics – and, most importantly, have fun – within a single session.
For newcomers, it’s often seen as the trickier sport to master compared with wakeboarding, which is probably the best ‘starter experience’ for getting those first-time nerves out of the way. Wakeboarding means maintaining balance as you move between the waves and get dragged through the water by a rope.
When you’re wakesurfing, however, you’ve got to maintain balance, stay on the board, and control your speed as you surf the waves and tail the boat without the help of a rope.
Sound hard? It’s definitely a challenge, but there are ways of making it simpler for beginners – and it’s definitely a whole lot of fun.
FOR FIRST-TIME WAKESURFERS
If you can’t wait until you get face-to-face with our instructors, here are some insider tips to get you started…
1.Don’t let go of the rope too soon
Wakesurfing is all about moving freely behind the boat – taking advantage of all those waves it creates and having full control over the way you surf them. That’s why a lot of people feel the temptation to drop the rope as soon as possible, but there’s no rush – and no competition to see who can let go the fastest.
Find your footing, get your balance, figure everything out with yourself and your board, and wait until you feel some slack in the rope before you think about letting go.
2.Rise – don’t drag
Nobody gets on their feet perfectly the first few times and, more often than not, beginners will flop down into the water – a friendly kiss on the cheek from Lake Arenal to you.
You can go through the theory as much as you want but, once the boat kicks into gear, your mind and body will probably go into overdrive as you scramble to get on your board.
One of the biggest mistakes newbies make is trying to use the rope to drag themselves up onto the board. You definitely don’t need to do this and, even if it works out – which it probably won’t – you’re making things a lot harder for yourself.
Let the growing tension in the rope allow you to gradually rise out of the water. Use your heels to flip the board up to your feet, and resist the urge to do the opposite.
3.Posture is important
We’re not going to make you walk up and down the shoreline balancing a book on the top of your head, but, if you’re new to wakesurfing, we are going to remind you to keep one eye on your posture at all times.
Balance is everything, but it’s not as easy as it looks. To stay balanced, a lot of people will feel the urge to bend forward and off-set the weight on their heels by sticking their shoulders out further than their toes. It’s a common stance among beginners, but it’s actually going to do more harm than good.
Standing up straight means engaging your core. It will also make it a lot easier for you to transfer weight between your front and back foot – and your heels and toes – which will make surfing the waves a lot easier.
4.Don’t panic if you start catching up to the boat
Wakesurfers are constantly altering their stance to control their speed and direction, and knowing how to slow down and put a little distance between yourself and the boat is just as important as knowing how to speed up and catch the wave at the perfect moment.
Catching up to the boat isn’t a big deal, and the type of surfboard used for wakesurfing isn’t long enough to start butting up against the stern.
5.Whatever you do, don’t just drop the rope
Until you’re a confident surfer, you don’t want to give into the temptation to just drop the rope and go for it. That early rush of confidence beginners get when they’re staying upright and feeling the breeze on their cheeks – when the blood is pumping harder and faster and the world around them is soaring by.
Enjoy the feeling, but don’t let it talk you into just dropping the rope. You’ve got to wait for the slack to become constant – and a signal from your instructor that you’re ready to try letting go.
Even then, don’t just drop it. You can throw your rope to the other side of the wave, or straight back to your instructor, but dropping it anywhere in front of you is a recipe for trouble.
THE HEALTH AND FITNESS
BENEFITS OF WAKESURFING
Wakesurfing is a full mind-body sport. It’s demanding, and there’s a pretty steep learning
curve for beginners to confront, but it’s totally worth it.
Wakesurfing is an awesome cardiovascular workout
If you ask us, getting out on a board and surfing the wake beats a run in the park any day.
From building strength in your arms and legs to keeping your core constantly engaged, wakesurfing is excellent cardio. Even just standing up and maintaining that strong posture keeps your entire body working hard – but the pay-off is totally worth a little pain.
You’ll get back to dry land with more confidence and energy
Getting active is always a great way to give you a rush of endorphins – those feel-good hormones that give you such a boost after a run, hike, or round of tennis. But getting active while learning an entirely new skill – and one that can be a little daunting the first few attempts – is ideal for changing your perspective and helping you to feel good about yourselves.
It boosts hand-eye coordination
It’s not often that we have to learn a totally new way of standing, of using our weight, of judging speed and distance and making loads of very small (but important) corrections and adjustments to our stance. It’s not our fault – it’s just that regular, day-to-day life doesn’t present many opportunities.
Wakesurfing is like a total mind-body reset. You’ve got to lean into your hand-eye coordination a lot more than usual, which makes for a great physical and mental workout.
A blast of fresh air never did anyone any harm
Everything else aside, just getting a good dose of fresh air and fun is awesome for your health. Couple that with spending time with your favorite people (us included!) and letting go of everything you left on Lake Arenal’s shore for a while, and you’re bound to feel better – even if you’re a little sore in the morning.
If you’ve got any unanswered questions after reading this page, then feel free to drop us a message.
Is wakesurfing harder than surfing?
Nope! Most people agree that wakesurfing is the easier of the two. This mainly comes down to the fact that, when you’re wakesurfing, there’s no lull between one good wave and the next. A good wakesurfing boat (like ours) allows the driver to configure the wave to the surfer, which means you’re constantly riding the type of wave surfers will sometimes wait hours to see.
Obviously, location still makes a difference, but Lake Arenal is one of the best wakesurfing lakes you could hope to visit. This makes things easier – and a lot more enjoyable – for total beginners.
Can you get hurt wakesurfing?
Yes, wakesurfers can walk away with a few injuries but, for the most part, these injuries are minor. If you’re not used to it, you can expect to wake up the next day feeling a little sore, but nothing that can’t be worked out of your system with a dip in one of Arenal’s many hot springs – or a well-earned massage.
But it’s important to remember that wakesurfing can lead to a few injuries, like ankle sprains or abrasions. We take all the necessary safety precautions on our trips out onto Lake Arenal, and will make sure you’re properly briefed on the safety stuff before you’re in the water.
What speed do you wakesurf at?
Most people tend to feel comfortable around the 10mph range (give or take). Some people will be able to work up to speeds around 14-15mph, but only when they’re comfortable on the board. You’ll always be able to keep up.
Is Lake Arenal good for wakesurfing?
Absolutely. Call us biased, but Lake Arenal is one of the best wakesurfing destinations. While some parts are better for windsurfing, there are some great spots with the smooth, buttery water wakesurfers would travel halfway across the world for.
As the biggest lake in Costa Rica – and easily reachable from La Fortuna – it’s the perfect place for wakesurfing.