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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Witch's Rock Surfing
Joe Walsh, Muir 00

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Only in his wildest dreams did Joe Walsh, Muir ’00,  imagine that his passion for surfing would one day lead to his current enterprise at Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

“I learned to surf at Torrey Pines when I was 16 and just fell in love with it,” says Walsh.

Ten years ago, with a film degree in his back pocket and $20,000 in the bank, Walsh decided a regular 9-to-5 wasn’t to his liking, so he bought a used school bus from the San Diego Unified School District and drove it with his wife, Holly, and his ­father, P.K., to Costa Rica.

When they arrived, they rented a loft apartment that backed up to Tamarindo Beach and began offering surf charters, using that old school bus to deliver groups of aspiring surfers to the best-known breaks throughout Costa Rica. Since then, Walsh, now 32, has turned that initial investment into a thriving business with 65-plus employees that includes the Witch Rock Surf Camp, an 18-room hotel and the Eat at Joes Restaurant & Bar.

With its warm water and rolling breaks, Central America is a haven for surfing. Aside from lessons, Witch’s Rock offers surf charters to some of the region’s top surf breaks, including several that lie in Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south.

And Walsh has his sights set on even bigger plans for the future. Besides hotel expansion and a second restaurant on the property, Walsh would like to bring his Witch Rock surf brand and surfboards to San Diego and open a shop in his native Tierrasanta.

“I really want to be able to bring Witch’s Rock back to San Diego so I can be closer to home and spend more time with my family and friends,” explains Walsh.

Scott Yoffe