Over 730 miles of white, tan, dark brown and black sanded beaches and warm water temperatures all year long are a couple of reasons why Costa Rica is considered a surfers paradise. It's not tremendous sized waves that draw people in from all over the world. Its because of it's consistent head high surf at any time of the year that make Costa Rica one of vacationers favorite surf spots.
Most people think that the best way to find the surf is to follow it. Here's a tip for you: It's not. You will spend a lot of unnecessary time in your car and miss the waves. Surf areas are mainly defined by location and by season, which makes surfing in Costa Rica very surfer friendly!
Northern Pacific Coast
Surfing the Northern Pacific Coast is pretty much the most consistent location from December through April. During this season, strong offshore winds combine with ideal swell directions, making for some amazing riding conditions. Here are some of our favorite spots:
- Bahia de los Piratas/Playa Real - With just over a mile of pink tinted sand, this beach is perhaps Costa Rica's best-kept secret. This tropical dry forest surrounds this virgin paradise which has only a few homes and hotels.
- Playas Carmen/Santa Teresa/MalPais - This isolated destination features surf breaks all year long. Located on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, these towns are only accessible by dirt road. Hotel and restaurant accommodations are available.
- Ollies Point - Only accessible by boat, Ollies Point is for the more experienced surfer who can handle the fast, long and powerful waves. Its world class surf break was made famous in the movie Endless Summer 2.
- Witches Point/Playa Naranjo - The most famous break in all of Costa Rica. Remote location accessible by boat or 4x4. Witches Point's surf adventures are amazing, with fast, hollow waves. You'll get a ride like no other here. The waves are smooth, big and glassy. Expect a clean, fast ride here as well as easy paddle outs. Accommodations are nearby.
- Playa Tamarindo - Tamarindo is the most popular and well known "surf mecca" on the Northern Pacific Coast. This is a great place to centralize yourself, there are lots of great surf spots nearby including Witches Point, Ollies Point and Langosta. Accommodations are plentiful in this popular beach town.
- Playa Grande - Just north of Tamarindo is Playa Grande, a part of the Guanacaste Region. Playa Grande draws surfers of all levels from beginner to advanced. Breaks are moderate in size and very consistent making it one of the most popular surfing destinations.
- Playa Avellana - The Tico's refer to this spot as "little Hawaii" because of it's remarkable waves that can reach up to 18 feet high. Also located in Guanacaste, Playa Avellana is easily accessible and offers accommodations.
Central Pacific Coast
If you're going to surf the Central and Southern Pacific Coast, is generally the best from May through November as the south swell sneaks in. Some places to consider:
- Jaco Beach Home to several surfing competitions each year, the 2.5 mile stretch of Jaco Beach is one of the more popular surf spots on the Central Pacific Coast and draws surfers from all over the globe. Its the closest surf town from the San Jose airport making it a prominent destination.
- Playa Hermosa Just 6 miles down the beach is one of the most hard-core surfer destinations in the country. Its consistently large waves and challenging surf make it the perfect place for the experienced rider. Nearby accommodations are available.
- Manuel Antonio This beautiful town is located about 45 minutes south of Playa Hermosa and is an excellent destination to beginning surfers, although it's not a prime location for the not so beginners. Vendors selling food, drinks and souvenirs line the sidewalks and you can also rent boogie and surf boards. Accommodations are available.
- Playa Bejuco Somehow, this place has managed to stay under the radar, but it is a fantastic location with no accommodations. Playa Bejuco is a wonderfully secluded beach that offers surf lovers excellent surfing conditions surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery.
South Pacific Coast
- Cabo Matapalo - At the tip of the Osa Peninsula on the South Pacific Coast lies the town of Cabo Matapalo, Matapalo to the tico's. Large waves roll into point break over a rocky bottom floor creating conditions only experienced riders should attempt. There is also an area nearby called Pan Dulce that welcomes beginning riders hoping to catch their first wave.
- Dominical - This 2.5 mile strip of beach is one of the best in the South Pacific. With the consistent waves, Playa Dominical is a surfers haven. Accessible by dirt roads, this beach is a good option for those looking to surf conditions similar to those of Playa Hermosa. Accommodations are available.
- Pavones - Pavones offers one of the worlds longest lefts. On a good day, that can make for a good 2-3 minute ride. Due to it's location in the Golfo Dulce, it can go for weeks without surf because it is blocked from swells so make sure you do your research before you head out. Its extremely remote location can make for a difficult journey here, but it is definitely worth it.
Surf season here doesn't last too long, but it's best November - April. You will notice that the Caribbean Coast is more laid back than the Pacific Coast, it's not nearly as built up.
- Puerto Viejo - Has some of the best riding conditions on the caribbean coast. It is known for being home to the heaviest wave in Costa Rica: Salsa Brava. The wave breaks over a shallow reef and should only be surfed by the more skilled rider.
- Playa Cocles - This beach break offers a more consistent break with lefts and rights breaking close to the beach. Surfers are attracted to this location from April to July and again from September to December. The surf here is constant making it a great place to learn how to surf.
Its always best to do your research ahead of time so you know what types of weather and water conditions you are up against.