Pura Vida Living At Its Finest

Pura Vida Living At Its Finest

Alyssa Spencer, Leah Thompson and Leilani McGonagle find point break perfection in a distant Costa Rican paradise.

There are very few places in the world that one could truly call paradise...

That word is reserved for the best of the best, those rare gems that have it all – perfect waves, a stunning natural landscape, welcoming locals, a rich culture, the list goes on. So when someone says they live in paradise, it’s easy to dismiss as an exaggeration.

Over the past few years, Leilani McGonagle has spent every Rip Curl Women’s trip telling the team about her hometown in the south of Costa Rica. By all accounts it sounded like where she lived was nothing short of that rare gem we call paradise. Pura vida living at its finest.

But after years of hearing tales of this lush, tropical, wave-rich jungle from Leilani, good friends and fellow Rip Curl team riders Alyssa Spencer and Leah Thompson decided it was time to go and see it for themselves. And as it turns out, Leilani’s description of her home was no exaggeration.

After a full 24 hours of travel, including a jet, a small twin-engine plane and a bumpy drive, Alyssa and Leilani were greeted by Leilani at her home… nestled directly in front of one of the world’s best left-hand point break.

“I had been wanting to go visit Leilani for so long,” says Alyssa Spencer, who gave us the low-down on the trip. “I saw a south swell headed that direction, I messaged Leilani, called Leah, and next thing I know I’m on plane!

“Leilani’s hometown is a very small little surf town, and Lei lives right on the river at the entrance to the break. Every day we would wake up, go check the waves and head straight out. While we were there the waves were perfect, they were about 6-8 feet and they never stopped. Even when it got a little crowded, the wave is so long that you don’t really notice – there are so many different spots to sit and catch waves from. I would surf a wave from out the back and if I fell, I’d just pick up another wave coming through right after. I think I got a wave that lasted 57 seconds, or something crazy like that."

“There were leg burners coming through all day every day, and I’d say that this wave is probably one of the best waves I’ve ever surfed.”

“One of the days we decided to take a boat over to a nearby right-hander. Leah is a natural-footer so she was really excited to surf on her forehand, and Lei and I took it as an opportunity to work on our backhands. It was such a beautiful boat ride, everywhere you looked was gorgeous. When we got to the wave it wasn’t firing, but it was still fun and playful and the journey made it worth the trip! It was amazing to see the full setup down where Leilani lives – she has the perfect left on her doorstep, and the perfect right just a boat ride away.”

Between perfect lefts, fresh fruit from backyard trees, delicious local cuisine and good friends, Leilani’s Costa Rican paradise was Pura Vida – and a trip to remember for Leah and Alyssa. Those hidden gems might be difficult to find, but when you do, almost nothing compares.

So, when is your next trip to point break paradise?

Stills, filming and directing by Justin Jung.