Fly Me to the Surf

Macaw Air, Costa Rica

Dec 1, 2005
Outside Magazine
Costa Rica

Go to Swell: The South Caribbean's long-board dreamland    Photo: courtesy, Costa Rica Tourism

Every surfer worth his wax dreams of Costa Rica's tropical beaches, sun-glinted waves, and minimal crowds. But if the surf drops off at your favorite break—Tamarindo, for instance—you might be stuck thumbing through the latest le Carré novel while the waves crank away down south at the country's longest left, Pavones. After all, it's two days of jangling, potholed driving between the breaks.

Surfers now have an alternative. Launched in the fall of 2004, Macaw Air is the first coastal airline catering to the wave-chasing set. The brainchild of former Canadian mountain guide and charter pilot Chris Uniacke, Macaw neatly fills a hole: "No one was flying up and down the coast, and that's what surfers want to do," explains Uniacke, who partnered with tour operator Greg Rothermel to offer reasonably priced, swell-dictated surf adventures. Packages like the Pavones and Matapalo Surf Getaway include the spectacular flight from Tamarindo to Puerto Jiménez, an air-conditioned shuttle ride to Matapalo Point's wicked breaks, and accommodation at a jungle eco-lodge—all for less than $600. But if the surf's better elsewhere, Macaw will whisk you there.

You don't have to be a surfer to fly Macaw, either: Spend the morning deep-sea-fishing off the coast of Playa Flamingo, then sleep the night deep in the southern jungle amid the whoops of howler monkeys. Itineraries and prices vary; 011-506-653-1362,

Additional reporting by Shanti Sosienski