For 15 years Shawn Thomas has traveled the world as an official BMW tour guide and off-road riding instructor. His daughter Hailey has always been in love with motorcycles and inspired Thomas to combine his passion for riding with the joys of parenting. Father and daughter have shared several motorcycle adventures throughout the US, Central and South America.

Here’s Part 4 of their latest adventure into the villages, beaches, and rain forests of Costa Rica.

Chris and Hailey surfing
Chris—our guide and tour architect—is truly a “live-in-the-moment” dude. Hailey instantly liked him.Shawn Thomas

Adventure Log Day 4: Not-So-Rest Day

Location: Rest day in Tamarindo.
Weather: Sunny and windy throughout.

I am so proud of Hailey! After spending most of last night’s dinner and part of this morning needling away, I finally convinced her to take surfing lessons with me.

We met with our instructor Fabian, who sized Hailey up with a surfboard. He took one look at me, left the area, and returned with a paddleboard.

“You’re too big for a normal board,” he said. No worries, anything to help me get up and ride a wave is welcome. He set us up on the beach and started giving lessons on standing and balance. When he was done, he led us along the beach to a spot. The wind was really howling and it was hard to hold the boards against the gusts. When we got to the water, things became tense.

“Dad, I’m scared,” Hailey said in almost a whisper. “I don’t think I want to do this.”

Up on the first try!Shawn Thomas

This is a tough place for any parent to be. We want our kids to know their fears, to explore them, and understand them. And we want them to act appropriately, sometimes by charging ahead, other times with pause. But we don’t want to push too hard. Hailey has often expressed a fear of the ocean, but for no reason in particular. Part of me wanted to suggest we head back to our hotel room. But this was an opportunity she might never have again, and I wanted her to take advantage of it. I knelt down to her and brought her close.

“I know, baby girl, this is a new experience and it’s normal to be a little scared. What is it you’re worried about?”

She looked out at the vast ocean. “The waves are really big. I’m scared of them.” I pointed out ahead, just off the shoreline.

“Don’t worry, sweetie, we are only going into the shallow water. It’s only waist deep there and the waves are really small. Let’s just get that far and see how you feel, okay?”

Hailey surfing
Hailey nailed surfing, as I expected. She would later wonder why she was so scared to try it.Shawn Thomas

She reluctantly agreed and we waded in. Fabian took position next to Hailey, rehearsing the plan with her. He beckoned and she climbed on her surfboard, adjusting position and beginning to paddle. He rotated her toward the shore and prepared her for the first go.

“Okay, Hailey, start paddling harder… good… Now stand up on 3, 2, 1… Go!” She leapt to her feet, fumbling to gain balance as Fabian thrust the board forward and the wave carried her. She stayed up for a solid five seconds, and I screamed and cheered myself hoarse.

“That was fun!” she said as she returned for another wave.

“You did so well, baby girl! I’m so proud of you!”

tour guide Jaunca
Our guide Jaunca is a consummate goofball. I mean, who wears plaid shorts anymore?Shawn Thomas

Now it was my turn. I had little desire to be anything but a cheerleader for Hailey as she tried surfing. But my guides convinced me that father/daughter surf lessons were in order. Soon Fabian had me on my über-board and was instructing me to paddle and stand. The wave caught me and I moved forward, employing my practiced standing technique. And just like Hailey, I was up on my first try! I rode the wave for 50 feet, hopping off triumphantly and hot to go again.

I left the beach feeling proud and accomplished. Hailey had conquered a fear, and my instincts to keep nudging her forward were right! Thank goodness she enjoyed herself. We ended the day with another trip to the beach, this time for a sunset horseback ride. Hailey was assigned to a horse with a newborn baby, who tagged along and was pretty damned adorable. My horse hated me. At every opportunity he pinned his ears back at me. He was very surly and I am certain he was plotting my death. Horses aren’t my thing. Nevertheless we made it safely to from A to B, and Hailey really enjoyed it.

Tomorrow we head inland again, toward a volcano. Looking forward to it!