Surfing in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has been one of the world’s top surfing destinations for many years. This happened because of its consistent, high-quality waves, and a variety of breaks. It is famous for breaks like Witch’s Rock, Salsa Brava (site of many national surf contests), Ollie’s Point, and Little Hawaii.
From pro level to beginner-friendly, you will find waves for all surfers here. Costa Rica has a lot to offer out of the water too such as low costs, a great climate- with highs in the mid-80s F to mid-90s F during the day year-round and cooling off at night, and good-value real estate.
Costa Rica’s people are very warm and friendly. There is a saying in Costa Rica “Pura Vida”. The translation will be “Pure Life”. But it’s more like “life is good”, and it’s an attitude visitors and locals alike share. There are some world-class surfing beaches up and down the 800 miles of Pacific coastline and the Caribbean. The waters in Costa Rica are warm throughout the year, so you can leave your wetsuit at home. Let’s look at six of the best surf towns in Costa Rica.
Southern Pacific coast is one of the most beautiful regions in Costa Rica. You will see top mountains drop to the coastline. Rainforests abound with wildlife like howler monkeys and capuchin, coatimundis, and sloths. Dominical is known for its powerful breaks. It’s calmer just to
the south in Dominicalito. It’s a funky beach town with a few handicraft vendors and open-air eateries in the shade of palm trees. You can buy fresh seafood and you will need to pay $10 a kilo for sushi quality tuna or red snapper. Don’t forget to check out the roadside stands for ceviche (fish marinated in lime juice, with coriander, onions, and peppers).
About 1.5 hours by car, to the north of Dominical, is the central Pacific coast beach town of Jaco. In terms of distance, it is the closest major beach destination to Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose. The large beach and fun off-beach activities have made it popular with travelers, “Gringo” tourists and expats. It has a long pedestrian-friendly avenue lined with bars, restaurants, and shops. Once it was known as party hotspot but it has become more family friendly in recent years.
This place has all the things you need like gyms, health club, outdoor mall, hotel, and condo project. The waves are good here throughout the year. A beach break is best during high tide. It has a miles long beach that curves gracefully along a wide bay. It is a great place to learn surfing and for beginners to practice as well. You will find some surf schools here. You can also make a surf trip from here to Playa Esterillos and Playa Hermosa.
Tamarindo features several breaks along its gracefully, long curving beach, lying on the country’s north Pacific coast. You will find gentler, beginner friendly waves more to the south and more powerful waves are near the river mouth. Just across the river, it is an ideal jumping-off point to Playa Grande, Playa Negra, and Playa Avellanas. You can improve your skills quickly with the many surf schools.
In Tamarindo, there are beach bars and restaurants lining the beach sand. They offer sunset viewing. You will also find spas, restaurants, chic boutiques in the town. You will see Witch’s Rock Surf Camp which is altogether a restaurant, beach bar, microbrewery, hotel, tour company, surf shop, and surf school. They can take you to the famed breaks of Ollie’s Point and from there you will go to Witch’s Rock, an hour to the south by Panga (small boat with a motor) only.
Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is the country’s least developed area and most bohemian. Here you won’t find tall condos, big resorts or hotels, or gated communities cluttering the environment. It is mostly beach and jungle, with open-air restaurants, small shops, small villages, yoga studios, and boutique hotels. You must try the spicy and savory local Caribbean dishes in the nearby town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
Playa Cocles is just one of many beaches in this town. You will see a cluster of small hotels and restaurants and that is why it is considered one of the best surf spots in the country. There is a break called Salsa Brava and some other powerful breaks as well but not for beginners. Some of Costa Rica’s biggest surf tournaments each year take place here. If you are not surfing then you can go for scuba diving and snorkeling at tropical fish-filled reefs right of the beach. English is widely spoken because many of the locals are descendants of Jamaican immigrants. You will also hear ragged music and Latin tunes from dance clubs, speakers, and car stereos.
Little Nosara is located in the Nicoya Peninsula. It is a well-known surf spot for many years and it’s a charming town. Sandy roads snaking between the trees and restaurants, shops, and homes are spread out in the forest along the coast. Nicoya town is a center for yoga and healthy living. Playa Guiones is the main surfing beach and has a surfable beach break at all tides. Actually, it is undeveloped but large wildlife refuge protects nesting sea turtles. It is one of the favorite beaches for many locals because of grass-covered dunes, beach, and water. Don’t forget to pack your own drinks and sunshade as there are no stores nearby and also no loungers and umbrellas for rent.
This town entirely exists for surfing population. This is a spot you don’t want to miss out on because it is known that this place has the second longest left-hand surf break. You can enjoy most in the rainy season and it is located far off the beaten path. This place is best for intermediate to advanced surfers only. The wave is consistent and you will see there is enough for everyone as long as they follow the rules. You might just get the wave of your life with a little patience. It can get very busy on big swells. Waves can last up to two minutes and Pavones is for the surfer who will travel to the farthest ends of the country to ride an epic wave.
It is known that Costa Rica has one of the safest social environments in Central America. You can go there to surf and you don’t need to worry at all. You can go to these above-given surfing spots if you love surfing. You won’t be disappointed. Remember, don’t throw waste in the water or on the beach because it can pollute water and environment both