Spot photos by Dan Cates, wildlife shots by Zac
Etnies footwear have started 2011 with a decent eco pledge, their mission is to plant a tree for every pair of Jameson 2 shoes that are purchased and create the etnies rainforest in an area that has seen much deforestation over the last 80 years. The latest ecological promise from Soletech founder Pierre-André Senizergues derived from a trip to Costa Rica in 2007 where he met with government leaders and learned about their commitment to making the country carbon neutral by 2021- one of the first developing countries to make this pledge. The result of that visit was a catalyst for his current mission that starts this month working alongside native tribes in Costa Rica called the Maleku and a reforestation organization, La Reserva Forest Foundation, to make it happen.
If you have ever visited this beautiful country found between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America you will know just how special this place is. I have personally had the pleasure of flying in to this wonderful land three times now and have seen it develop hugely since 1996. Hotels have sprung up all over the place with trees chopped down to accommodate the demand for tourism and tarmac roads connecting towns that used to be pot holed pathways are now common place. The country is dedicated to its fauna. Trees grow out of trees, flowers and shrubs grow everywhere and different rainforests harbor thousands of known life forms across across all of the various regions; all contributing something different that is vital to their environment so it’s great to see a skateboard company getting involved to help the cause.
Skateboarding has become popular in Costa Rica over the last 10 years. The Tony Hawk video game era of the early 2000’s helped to push skateboarding to many countries opening more avenues for skate teams to hit the road and add more countries to their touring schedules. Arenas indoor skatepark in San Jose is the capital’s biggest park to host demos. Last month four Volcom riders arrived in the capital and were mobbed by the locals eager to see a pro team skate their park. Arenas is an air conditioned indoor wood park and has a street course and a mini ramp but worth noting that you will need a helmet to skate it.
Costa Rica’s most famous concrete skate park at Hotel Tilawa in Tileran is situated on the edge of a picturesque lake nearby the Arenal Volcano which is still fully active. You can drive around the lake during the day and see Coati’s (raccoons with razor sharp claws) and Armadillos crossing the roads, in the evening on a clear night, you can also witness molten red hot Lava spitting from Arenal if you are sat below drinking cocktails in its natural hot springs. The mix of relaxing mud baths, mineral pools, and thermal hot springs after skating the Tileran park (below) is highly recommended. Take that in for a few seconds and try to resist the urge to book a flight.
Death Skateboards‘ most traveled pro Dan Cates phoned me back in 2009 for info on the country and came back with nothing but praise for Central American culture so I’m going to hand over the reigns to Dan from his own experience of visiting these shores.
“Costa Rica has year round sunshine, good surfing, natural volcanic hot springs and some strange one-off skate spots dotted around the country if you know where to look. It is a kind of paradise for many and indeed is the only country in the world to not have an army. One thing I would say however, if you are thinking of visiting this weird and wonderful place be sure to rent a 4×4! It has the worst roads and its tropical climate means lots of rain storms and lots of mud for you to get stuck in. Take heed.
Most of your street skating needs will be taken care of in San Jose, which also has an indoor skatepark and a skate shop. Find a local to show you the spots, because San Jose is notoriously bad for traffic, lawless driving and gangs.
Next stop is the surf town of Tamarindo, that has a fun concrete snake run (above) leading into a 7 foot deep vert bowl. This thing is a lot of fun. If you are in the know there is a guy who has a clover leaf bowl in his back yard nearby, but like I said you definitely need to know someone if you wanna see this spot, it is strictly private.
As mentioned above Hotel Tilawa on the shore of lake Arenal is a must see for any visiting skaters, a quaint old hotel on the edge of the jungle with a large concrete park in the grounds! I stayed here off season and was the only person in the hotel. It was kind of like visiting Dracula’s castle, but with a skatepark in the garden. If you are feeling brave and fancy a trek through a howler monkey infested jungle there is also a rather perfect concrete spillway pipe that Salba once skated, it’s Costa Rica’s answer to Mount Baldy. Search and you shall find.”
Truer words were never spoken. Costa Rica’s magical landscape hosts many hidden gems. The country is composed of seven provinces, all with variable climate’s. Within 45 minutes from the airport in Alajuela (San Jose) you can be overlooking the turquoise blue sulphur lakes of the Poas Volcano. 3 hours drive from there you can be surfing on the party beaches of Jaco Beach and driving the hillsides of the beautiful town of Manuel Antonio. The latter has one of the best National Parks you will ever see where cappuccino monkeys bounce off every branch, sloths frequent the trees and the beaches are on par with the luxurious settings of any of the James Bond movies. An hour spent on the ferry with the jeep from Punteranas to Paquera is necessary for you to find the ultimate paradise also known as Montezuma and 10 minutes from here you will find the tiny village of Mal Pias which is simply heaven. Zorlac caught his first ever wave on a surfboard here with myself alongside for the ride as the sun set. I personally didn’t want to leave here and many don’t.
If you visit the North East on the Caribbean side you can travel by boat or plane to the swampy land strips of Tortugeuro and see Caiman and Crocodiles ruling the inland waters. In the North West, the Rincon de la Vieja National Park is home to the most active geysers in Costa Rica and amazing waterfalls, sights that are so beautiful that you can never revisit it in photos. The national parks are generally mind blowing. It’s best to take a guide on these missions with you as you will be surprised just how many living creatures are watching you walk through the rainforests without you even noticing they are there.
So with all this in mind, get yourself a ticket to Costa Rica this year and experience this stunning country first hand and if you want to help the cause get yourself some new kicks and Soletech will plant a tree in exchange. Click here to find out more about them.