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Our Story

Real Experiences Costa Rica is the combined dream of a small-town American girl, Danielle and a native Costa Rican, Brayan. Ironically enough, we first met during a surf session and again the following day in a (much needed) subsequent surf lesson for Danielle. A shared love for surfing, the ocean and Costa Rica is what brought the idea of Real Experiences to light. We're looking to make you feel less like a tourist and more like a local. 

Pura Vida

Brayan Valerin

Co-owner / Head Instructor

Brayan, better known as 'Chico' (an endearing nickname after his grandfather), was born and raised in the small beach-side town of Brasilito. It is no surprise that Brayan started surfing at the young age of 6, but with no means to purchase a board, his first attempts were on a boogy board. A bit of a natural, he succeeded and began to borrow real surf boards from his friends. Surfing quickly took precedence over everything else. With so much time in the water, Brayan has become an aggressive, power surfer; ask around and local surfers will agree. On top of his own surfing know-how he brings 8 years of teaching experience to the table. Brayan's passion for the sport and pure joy of seeing others up riding waves shines through in each lesson. He has the patience of a saint paired with an infectious smile that helps pass his confidence in the water on to those he teaches. Beginners can be at ease and more seasoned surfers can be sure to pick up new techniques and tricks. On the off chance you find him outside the ocean, chances are he'll still be at the beach with friends or family, fishing or playing with his Great Dane, Malo.

Danielle Babler

Co-owner / Manager

Danielle grew up in the rural farmlands of Wisconsin. It was a study aboard experience in college that took Danielle to Russia which ignited a passion for travel and culture. Thinking an international career would fill that void, she found a decade long career in importing and exporting for marine engine and boat manufacturers. She found her American dream with a job transfer to Knoxville, Tennessee; perfect career, car and home. However, the more she travelled the globe the more the corporate world lost its appeal. Her first trip to Costa Rica was in 2013 and an immediate bond with surfing, the culture and country was formed. Although she continued to explore other destinations she still managed 8 return visits to Costa Rica over the course of the next 3 years. In Fall of 2016, she took the blind leap, sold what little belongings she had, quit her job and bought a one way ticket to paradise. Now, she finds herself immersed in a new culture, trying to pick up on Spanish, honing in on surfing techniques and learning the ropes of running a business.

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