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Catch a wave.

There's a wave of money flowing into Costa Rica from abroad these days. It's not coming just from coffee buyers or remittances from families in the United States. It's coming from foreign surfers--lots of them.

According to government data, more than 220,000 surfers spent US$273.3 million searching for that ultimate ride in Costa Rica in 2004. The number of surfers visiting the country should double within the coming three years. Traditional surfing hotspots like Indonesia have been ravaged by tsunamis and terrorist bombings, making Central American beaches more popular, says Costa Rica's Federation of Surf, an industry association. Meanwhile, the country is close to the United States, has no military and is relatively crime-free. Plus, it's cheap to get there.

"It's $450 to fly from Charleston to Liberia, which is in the northern part of Costa Rica," says Middleton Rutledge, a 35-year-old realtor from South Carolina. Rutledge has been to Costa Rica to surf nine times since 1998, as well as to Mexico and to Belize. Hotel rates start at $10 and range up to $200 along the shore in Costa Rica, but most surfers spend less than $40 a night. Rutledge still hopes to visit Indonesia, especially the Mentawai Islands. He had planned to go recently, when the devastating tsunamis of December 2004 disrupted plans.

Meanwhile, other breaks in Central America are popping up on surfers' maps: Nicaragua, for instance, is beginning to shine. It's not as well-known as Costa Rica, where prices have gotten steeper, and it's safer than in years past. "A lot of people say it's what Costa Rica was 10 years ago," Rutledge says.
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Title Annotation:forecast of surfers visiting Costa Rica
Comment:Catch a wave.(forecast of surfers visiting Costa Rica)
Author:Jones, Forrest
Publication:Latin Trade
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:2COST
Date:Mar 1, 2006
Words:272
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