Pura vida - the best life in paradise

Alyssa Spencer, Leah Thompson and Leilani McGonagle found the perfect point break in a remote Costa Rican paradise.

There are very few places in the world that can truly be called paradise...

``Paradise'' is a word that can only be applied to a place that is like a rare gem, a perfect place that has it all: perfect waves, stunning natural scenery, warmly welcoming locals, and a rich culture. So when someone says they live in paradise, it is often dismissed as an exaggeration.

For the past few years, Leilani McGonagle has talked to the team about her hometown in the south of Costa Rica on every Rip Curl Women's Trip. To anyone listening, it sounded like her place was nothing short of a rare gem that we call paradise. Pura vida living at its finest.

After years of hearing stories of lush tropical jungles and bountiful waves from Leilani, close friends and Rip Curl team riders Alyssa Spencer and Leah Thompson finally decided it was time for them to go. I decided. And Leilani's depiction of her hometown was no exaggeration.

After 24 hours of travel that included jet planes, small twin-engine planes, and bumpy drives, Alyssa and Leah were picked up by Leilani in front of her home, which is located directly in front of one of the world's best left-handed point breaks.

"I've always wanted to go see Leilani," Alyssa Spencer said of her trip. “When I saw the south swell heading towards Costa Rica, I texted Leilani, called Leah, and before I knew it I was on a plane.”

"Leilani's hometown was a very small surf town, and her home was a house on the river at the entrance to the break. We woke up every morning, checked the waves, and headed out. During my stay there were waves of about 6 to 8 feet breaking nonstop, and even though it was a little crowded, it didn't bother me too much because there were plenty of long wave spots.I rode it from the outside and wiped out . Well, I just have to catch another wave that's coming soon. I rode a wave that lasted 57 seconds, which was crazy."

"It was a leg burner all day every day and I think it's one of the best waves I've ever surfed."

“One day we decided to go boating to a nearby righthander. Leah is a regular footer so she was really excited to surf forehand and it gave Ray and I a chance to work on our backhands. The ride was so beautiful, gorgeous everywhere you looked. Even though the waves weren't breaking when we got there, it was still fun and really worth the trip. Where Leilani lives, it's a perfect place. A long left was right in front of me, and a perfect righthander was just a boat ride away.”

The perfect long left, fresh fruit from our backyard trees, delicious local food, and great friends. Leilani's Costa Rican paradise is truly Pura Vida.
It was an unforgettable trip for Leah and Alyssa. It may be difficult to find such a hidden gem, but if you can find it, there's no substitute for it.

So, when is your next trip to paradise?

Cinematography/Director: Justin Jung.