BEST SURFING IN COSTA RICA
Excellent surfing is accessible in Costa Rica, and there are numerous alternatives for surfers of all abilities. For experienced surfers, there are beaches with large waves like Santa Teresa and Playa Dominical. There are beaches with small waves, like Playa Samara or Manuel Antonio, that are ideal for learning to surf.
THE BEST SURFING BEACHES IN COSTA RICA
GUANACASTE AND THE NICOYA PENINSULA
This region has excellent surfing all year long. The greatest months for the weather are December through April, however it remains pleasant for the most part through the end of August. The wettest months are September and October. You can experience the largest waves from May through November.
Playa Grande: One of Costa Rica’s huge wave beaches with the best accessibility is Playa Grande. It is conveniently situated about 15 minutes from Tamarindo and 45 minutes from Liberia Airport by car. Actually, the beach is inside of Las Baulas National Park, which was established to safeguard the enormous leatherback turtles that lay their eggs there.
Tamarindo: One of Costa Rica’s most well-known surf towns is Tamarindo. Additionally, it is among the most Americanized. The towns Playa Tamarindo and Playa Langosta both have sizable beaches. The most well-known beach is Playa Tamarindo, which has lovely white sand and waves that vary in size depending on where you are. There are numerous rock outcroppings on Playa Grande, but the waves are HUGE. Experienced surfers only should use this beach.
Despite Tamarindo’s popularity, the beach is lengthy and the parking lots are dispersed. Almost always, you can claim your own space. In the centre of town, there are numerous surf businesses offering rentals and instruction. There are many different hotel alternatives available.
Playa Avellanas: Playa Avellanas is one of Costa Rica’s least frequented beaches, yet it is one of the greatest for large wave surfing. There are only farmland, mangroves, and beach vegetation; there are no large hotels or a town centre. The lone establishment on the beach is Lola’s Beach Bar. They have excellent views of the surf and are well known for their pizza.
Nosara: Nosara has a hippie-surfer ambiance and is a laid-back town. There are a number of beaches nearby, but Playa Guiones is where most tourists stay. A long stretch of undeveloped white sand beach offers wonderful shoulder-high to above surf almost every day. The town of Nosara is not actually located on the beach, but is within walking distance. There are several surf shops for board rentals or lessons. There are also a handful of small hotels to choose from. While Nosara is nice, it is difficult to access with poorly maintained roads and frequent bridge washouts on the way. When the weather is nice, the dirt roads become powdery. Due to the road conditions, many people use ATVs as their primary mode of transportation, turning the town into a dust bowl in the summer.
Samara and Carrillo: Samara is a cute, genuine surfside community in Costa Rica. When the tide is high, the waves, which are typically waist to chest high, are ideal for beginners. Playa Carrillo, located just south of Samara, is an excellent place for skilled surfers to catch head-high waves at the southern end of the beach during high tide.
On Samara’s beach, there are a few surf shops, although none are located on Playa Carrillo. Although there are a few fancier hotels nearby, the majority of accommodations in this region are modest, budget-friendly hotels or hostels.
The area’s largest and fastest waves can be seen at Playa Santa Teresa. Due to the big swells, point breaks, and beach breakers, it is best for experienced surfers. Low tide is when surfing is most enjoyable because of the faster waves. This location also contains Playa Hermosa, which is more appropriate for novices.
In between Santa Teresa and Mal Pais sits Playa Carmen. The waves have a left and right break over sand, making them better for novices.
Sunset Reef and Punta Barrigona are two other beaches in Mal Pais. Both reef breaks are left-handed. In both areas, it might be perilous to surf on the reef.
The majority of the surf schools and rental facilities are found close to Playa Carmen. Although there are several hotels in the neighbourhood, the most are modest boutique hotels with a limited number of rooms.
CENTRAL PACIFIC SURFING IN COSTA RICA
The Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica offers several great surfing locations. The weather is best from late December through April. May through August is also a nice time to visit, though you should expect some rain. October through mid-November can be very rainy. The best waves are experienced from May through November.
Boca Barranca: This is mostly surfed and boogey boarded by locals, just south of Puntarenas. When conditions are right with a southwest swell, this turns into one of the longest lefts in the world. The water in this area is not the cleanest and you will have to keep your valuables close. This is not a tourist destination and therefore there is only one decent hotel in the area.
Jaco Beach: Jaco is a great surfing destination if you are looking for shoulder to head high waves close to San Jose (1.5 hours away). High tide is best for experienced surfers, while low tide is better for beginners. There are several peaks on the three kilometer beach, which can become crowded on weekends.
There are many surf shops in Jaco for rentals or lessons. Visitors can choose from a variety of accommodations including the heaviest concentration of condominiums in Costa Rica. The night life can become pretty wild in Jaco with many bars to choose from. Tourists should be careful in Jaco as this is a higher crime area.
Playa Hermosa de Jaco: The waves in Playa Hermosa de Jaco, which range in height from head high to double head high, are among the largest in all of Costa Rica. The beach has a number of great places, but it can get busy.
There are a number of surf shops in the little coastal town. Rentals and lessons are freely accessible. Hermosa hotels come in all different forms and sizes, but they all have a love of surfing.
Esterillos: There are three main beach in Esterillos; Esterillos Oeste, Esterillos Central and Esterillos Este.
Esterillos Oeste is the most popular with the best waves from January – March and June – August. There are a few barrels during high tide. Waves break far out during low tide.
Esterillos Central has river mouths at both ends of the beach and is best surfed when the waves are chest to head high.
Esterillos Este is the most remote of the beaches in Esterillos. The beach is best surfed when waves are chest to head high.
There are several hotels in the Esterillos area, but there is not a town center or much to do unless you drive up to Jaco or south to Manuel Antonio.
Palo Seco: Playa Palo Seco is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Central Pacific. The beach is long and has many breaks of varying height. There are few visitors to this beach due to its location near Parrita, but it is well worth the trip from Manuel Antonio. There are no surf shops in the area, but there are a couple small hotels.
Damas Island: This is a great alternative to surf lessons on Playa Espadilla from Manuel Antonio. The island is only accessible by boat. The beach offers varying breaks providing good surfing for beginners and experienced surfers. There are no hotels on the island, most visitors come from Manuel Antonio with a tour operator.