Cuba & Costa Rica Blog
About this blog
Written by Cuba and Costa Rica expert Christopher P. Baker, this blog will update readers on life in these two diverse and exciting countries.
- Last blog post on Costa Rica and Cuba
- First-ever group motorcycle tours of Cuba successful
- Cuba’s Mariel port readying for Panama Canal expansion
- Musings on wildlife encounters on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula
- Cuba’s Steam Trains puffing their last gasp
- My top five thrilling activities in Costa Rica
- Cuba’s fun February festivals include Harleys, Books, Cigars
- Five top volcano viewing experiences in Costa Rica
- New road along Costa Rica / Nicaraguan border mired
- Cuba’s Hotel Campoamor at Cojímar to be restored?
- Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez honored in new book
- Christmas challenge for Costa Rica’s sexually abused girls
- Costa Rica opens Chinatown in downtown San José
- David Soul films Hemingway’s car restoration in Cuba
- National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
New Costa Rica surf camp caters to handicapped
I recently received an email from a new surf camp and hotel in Costa Rica that left me inspired.
The Shaka Beach Retreat, at the popular surfing beach of Santa Teresa, at the southwest tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, specializes in surf camps for handicapped travelers. I did a double-take when I first looked at Shaka’s superb website. Surfing for wheelchair-bound people! How so?
The story begins in 2006 when Shaka co-founder Christiaan Bailey, a surfer from Santa Cruz, California, suffered a spinal cord injury while skateboarding. Remarkably, Christiaan learned to adapt. He continues to surf, and has worked with Surftech to developed specialized boards for disabled surfers.
Christiaan partnered with Floridian surfer Frank Bauer to create Shaka Beach Retreat, a beautiful beachfront surf camp/hotel made of hardwoods . The duo set out to build a fully ADA compliant and wheelchair accessible retreat.
One of the most notable and admirable efforts at Shaka is their commitment to providing unique opportunities for wheelchair bound kids and their families, few of whom might otherwise have a chance to travel. Shaka’s coaches teach disabled kids (and adults) to swim and, yes, surf.
Shaka’s staff is trained to work with individuals with disabilities ranging from autism and amputations to muscular dystrophy and spina bifida.
And as the website says: “The parents on the other hand, can relax, unwind and enjoy themselves, without having to worry about constantly supervising their child or taking care of the day to day routines associated with their special needs...This way, both the kids and the parents get to have a blast and enjoy all of the many great things Costa Rica has to offer!”
This is a tremendous development, not least because Costa Rica has traditionally lacked infrastructure catering to people with physical challenges. There are few wheelchair ramps on sidewalks, for example. And only the most recently built hotels have been designed to accommodate wheelchairs, including in bedrooms for handicapped travelers.
Meanwhile, Vaya con Silla de Ruedas (Go with Wheelchairs) is a specialized transport service for the ambulatory disabled. It operates a specially outfitted vehicle with three wheelchair stations, has 24-hour service, and offers overnight and multi-day tours.
And The Association of Costa Rican Special Taxis (tel. 506/2296-6443) operates taxis and vans equipped for the disabled.
For further information about travel in Costa Rica, buy Moon Costa Rica
If you're traveling only to San José and the Caribbean, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast pocket guide.
If you're traveling only to the beaches of Nicoya, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula pocket guide.
If you're traveling only to Arenal and/or Monteverde, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Arenal & Monteverde pocket guide.
Disclosure: I occasionally accept free or discounted travel when it coincides with my editorial goals. However, my opinion is never for sale. The opinions you see in Cuba & Costa Rica Journal are my unbiased reflection of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Copyright © Christopher P. Baker