Summer's rolling. That means scorching, long days, and (hopefully) even later nights. Beating the heat is a must for us at UB, and we know everyone else is doing the same. That's why we've got Conor Monaghan on deck. Maybe it's the sea turtles, his Irish heritage, or the Costa Rican choice in beer. Conor Monaghan can cruise with the best of them. Simply put, the guy is just "cool" - we're glad to have him be our next Purveyor of Rad.
Where are you currently?
I am currently in Dirty (New) Jersey
Where are you from?
Born in NYC. My whole family is from Ireland, so I’m first generation American. Yes, even the parents were born there. But lived in Ireland for awhile before landing in NJ.
Tell me a little bit about yourself...
My name is Conor Monaghan. I’m 24, and I enjoy taking the road less traveled
What does taking the road less traveled mean to you?
For me, taking the road less traveled is each day trying to break out of the daily routine. Learn new things, meet people, listen to new stories. It could be as simple as trying a new route on your way to work. A favorite quote of mine by Alan Watts is "reality is only a Rorschach ink-blot". Each person perceives and sees things differently on a daily basis. But with certain things, you cannot change the way YOU see.
Favorite meal of the day?
I'd have to say that period between breakfast and lunch where I can make a breakfast burrito with lots of hot sauce. I literally put that shit on everything
Hot sauce is king of topping game, and everyone has their favorite. But of the Big 3 (Tabasco, there’s Cholula, or Sriracha) everyone has an allegiance. Conor chooses Chili Lime Cholula as his number one. All day, every day.
Can you remember the time you were hooked on surfing?
Oh yea, right from my first wave. It was a little thigh-high wave (which felt like XL pipe of course) for what could have been forever. The euphoric feeling that flooded my body is pretty indescribable, a person just has to experience the absolute raw stoke to understand.
Even now, I still get that same sort of tunnel vision. The split second I pop up, I go back to that first wave I caught. I almost feel frozen in the moment, then the wave starts to open up and I'm like... start pumping you kook
Is there anything you can't go without when you travel?
I would have to say headphones. They helps me zone out in the traveling process. and music opens my mind to a creative world while being trapped at 30,000 feet
What's the most breathtaking body of water you've visited?
I would have to say Niagara Falls. That emotion of feeling "little" gets you from time to time, especially when the raw power of Mother Nature is unfolding right before your eyes.
Drink of choice?
A post surf smoothie never tasted so good. But an ice cold Imperial is hard to beat...
Imperial is the national cerveza of Costa Rica. Best served ice cold with your toes in the sand, it’s the go to for the self proclaimed country of Pura Vida lifestyle. Conor calls the country his second home, and boy does he have some stories.
One time you wished you had brought your camera with you?
There's one surf day I don't think I will ever forget. I have it burned forever in my mind. I befriended a local who worked by my hostel in Bastimentos exchanged some words in Spanish he said he'd stop by in few days to take me to a spot. Long story short, that day came it was torrential downpouring. We entered the mouth of the jungle barefoot, board shorts, surfboard in hand. It took about a solid what felt like an hour trekking up and down the jungle in knee deep mud. The rainwater was creating little rivers rushing by through the mountain. We finally made it to a little protected cove with some overhead wedges coming through. I got to paddle with a total stranger and have an awesome little session. I made a friend out of the pure beauty of searching for the stoke.
As society becomes more and more visually driven, does that make you excited to be behind the lens, shaping the perception of so much of what the outdoors have to offer?
I would have to say yes and no at the same time. With most things, the pro's outweigh the cons and vice versa. Being blessed with the technology we have in contemporary society, plus the resources I have around me to capture raw and beautiful moments is absolutely amazing. Being able to share my eye with other people and allow them to interpret what it means is definitely one of the top pro's in social media expression.
Place you've been, but are already planning to go back to?
Costa Rica 1000%. I lived with a host family about 2 years to help my fluency in Spanish. I now see them as mis abuelos. I feel that the families I have met have accepted me as almost one of their own. That feeling is hard to express. It's crazy how immersing yourself into a new culture and overcoming a total language barrier helps you almost reset yourself to your roots when you're forced to.
But Costa Rica offers more than just language to journey into. Trekking up and down the pacific side, hunting for barrels hiding in the corners. 10 hour bus rides, battling, rainstorms and gnarly road conditions. The reward for fighting through were glorious jungle lined coasts and soaring macaws. Oh and some righteous wedges from isolated point breaks. Think Roca Bruja (Witch's Rock) up north, or Cabo Matapalo down south. Imagine a pod of whales breaching 200 yards from a dawn patrol session. Conor got to drink in Mother Nature firsthand. He admiring the jewel of a day unfolding with him in it. He had a reflex to get his camera. But after another second, he caught himself. Because well, a picture just wouldn't do the experience justice.
Where in Costa Rica did you spend most your time?
I stayed in a small little town just outside San Jose called Curridabat across the street from the little soccer stadium. I had a host family to brush up on my spanish fluency. They were great people, the Costa Rican grandparents I never had. Got to try and strum my ukulele late into the night while my abuelo, Don Jose taught me spanish songs on his guitar. They didn't speak a word of English and I think that really made my experience so pure because I had to take the time and effort to go back to the basics of communication to get by day to day, no shortcuts no easy way out.
What did you spend time doing outside of of your casa?
After awhile, I headed south towards Playa Blanca. I stayed there about a month and half studying marine sea turtles. Tagging them, tracking, researching, etc. A rewarding experience, for sure. Bing so far out, I unplugged from all the social media that could keep me attached to back home. The rest of my time was spent hopping surf spots all up the pacific coast from Cabo Matapalo to Roca Bruja (Witches Rock) which I scored on one of the best days they had all year.
First camera you ever owned?
Canon rebel that I technically "borrowed" for an extended period of time from a digital photography class in high school.
Any recommendations for those visiting Costa Rica?
Just to take one! The people there are just really one of a kind and I highly recommend a trip, just stay away from the "Westernization" aspects. Take public transportation and you will get to see the raw side of any country.
So this summer, just get out there and take a trip! Whether you're charging tropical breaks, or catching a few in the Dirty Jersey, like Conor - it'll refresh those long summer day... stay cool and stay barreled