Costa Rica has long been recognized as one of the world’s best surfing destinations. While it doesn’t boast the biggest waves, the “pura vida” lifestyle and variety of beach and surf conditions have earned Costa Rica a place on the surfer’s map. There are white, pink, tan, brown, and black beaches to choose from and a selection of surf breaks – point breaks, reef breaks, beach breaks, and river mouths. Costa Rica is also an affordable surf destination – the warm water temperatures are free, and the cheap flights, great restaurants, and varied accommodation options won’t put a dent in your wallet either. Here you have some of the best surfing in Costa Rica.
When it comes to surfing in Costa Rica the biggest decision you’ll have to make is which breaks to try out. Here’s a rundown of some of the top surf trips in Costa Rica.
Making the trek between towns is always an adventure. The cheapest way is to take the bus, however, there is not much regularity with the schedules. Another option is renting a car, but the roads are not well-developed and keep in mind that it’s not always a good idea to stop on the side of the road.
Related Read: Renting a Car and Driving in Costa Rica
Best Surfing in Costa Rica
In the North Pacific, you’ll find Ollie’s Point, a fast and hollow right point break. This break was made famous by the movie ‘Endless Summer II’. Like most breaks in the area, it’s best at high tide (try to avoid it at low tide). Ollie’s point can only be accessed by boat. The best way to get there is to take a boat in from Playa del Coco for the day.
Witches’ Rock is one of Costa Rica’s most famous and popular surf breaks. Witches is beautiful and remote and well known for its fast hollow rights. Smaller conditions also produce good lefts. It’s not always possible to get to Witches by land, so your best bet is to get a boat trip out from Playa del Coco. You can also stay at the Witches Rock Surf camp and catch their boat out to the break (a good idea if you’re traveling as a single).
What draws so many to Playa Guiones is its consistency, providing the chance to hit the surf on over 300 days of the year. Another feature of this surf spot is that it caters to all abilities, The waves on the east side of the beach crash into a sandy bottom beach break which provides smaller waves for those starting out, as you approach the western side of the beach the swells can start to rise and there are times when only the very experienced should be hitting the water. Here you can surf at both low and high tide, the average water temperature is 83F and it is also the cleanest water in the country, the perfect surf spot.
Playa Grande is a beach break that has consistent fun, ride-able waves. It often has the perfect right and left peaks and can hold waves up to almost double-overhead. There are a number of accommodation options in Playa Grande.
Tamarindo is one of Costa Rica’s biggest surf towns with a buzzing nightlife and many accommodation options. There are two fun breaks here – El Estero (a river mouth break) and Pico Pequeno (a reef break).
Tamarindo is a great starting point if you want a challenging break and guaranteed juicy waves. You will find the best and most difficult section in the beach called Langosta, surfing here is for advanced adventure seekers only. There is no chance that you will not have to deal with any random standers or highway surfers as they just can’t make it out here without getting pounded. All in all this a good spot to rip it up, but be prepared to be noodled by the end of the day, the waves here have an untamed power.
Avellanas and Playa Negra
10 km south of Tamarindo, Avellanas offers 5 different reefs and sand breaks off a stunning 2 mile stretch of beach. Avellanas is easily accessed from Tamarindo, or there are a few accommodation options close by. 5 km south of Avellanas is Playa Negra, often referred to as one of the best surf destinations in Costa Rica. It’s a consistent and powerful right-hand reef break.
If you are an experienced surfer with strong abilities then this is the perfect spot for you, challenging, dangerous and sure to get the adrenaline flowing. Swells here have been reported as being up to 18 feet high and if you head out at low tide you can enjoy these monster swells. Just off Little Hawaii you’ll find a place called El Parqueo which has waves that are shorter in height but far bigger in length, a great spot to ride these smooth breaks to their completion. This is a spot for pure surfers, the location isn’t a tourist hotspot, and accommodation is limited to some small hotels and surfer rentals, here in Little Hawaii, the surf is very much life.
There are a number of different breaks in and near Malpais, including a long right and shorter left beach break at El Carmen and Santa Teresa. Hurry to this area – it’s one of the last uncrowded surf spots in the country!
In the Caribbean, Playa Bonita offers a powerful left reef break/point. It’s a shallow break that can be dangerous for inexperienced surfers. Playa Bonita is only 5 km north of Limon.
Puerto Viejo/Salsa Brava
The Salsa Brava break near Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast offers the biggest surf in Costa Rica when there’s a swell. The only way to get to the break is to paddle out through a small channel in the reef. If you want to surf big waves in Costa Rica, this is the place! But beware; it’s not suitable for beginners. There are a number of food, entertainment, and accommodation options in nearby Puerto Viejo.
Next, go south to get to Junquilla. It will possibly provide you with the grandest, and untouched waves you will ever experience. On a good day you will be looking at waves going from left to right to left, ranging anywhere from 150 to 300 m long. It will just be you, your bros, and the ocean out there. The best surf is brought into the beach during a northwest wind, and when the swells are coming from a southwest direction. With these conditions, you will be looking at a solid 10-footer all day.
The last highly recommended destination for crackin’ world-class surf is Santa Teresa. In a way, this place is not describable by words and the only way you will be able to know what it is like is to come here. There is immediate access to a nectar beach that makes way to glorious brakes coming from the right to create a ricked break. Luckily this place does not attract a lot of tourists and there will only be a few others ripping it up even on weekends. Good swells will come in from the west, northwest, and southwest and on premium days 6 footers can be assured.
Above is but a small selection of surf breaks in Costa Rica. To discover all the surfing that the country has to offer, hop on cheap flights to Costa Rica and let the surfing begin!
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