Few places are more beautiful than sitting on a surf board outside the breaks at sunset waiting for that perfect wave. It may be the powerful hollow rights and lefts of Salsa Brava in Puerto Viejo, or a point break at Playa Hermosa near Jaco. It could be the low tide's crumbling whitewater, soft, smooth and made for beginners; either way you'll find your perfect wave waiting in Costa Rica.read more close
Drop-in on Costa Rica’s world renowned surf among the sunshine, tropical climate, warm waters (average 80 degrees) and countless surf breaks along the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines. Between them, you'll find 800 miles of shoreline with waves for both beginner and seasoned surfers.
Beach and point breaks, reefs and river mouth run – there's always fabulous surf somewhere in Costa Rica. Get out of San Jose and get to the beach in time to catch the day's high tide. Wet suits are unnecessary, and boards and other surfing gear are widely available to rent or buy. You'll find rentals on the beach for $20 a day, lessons for $40 to $50 and a number of local surf shops, camps and seasoned pros offering invaluable tips at every surf destination.
Start your surf adventure in the north Pacific province of Guanacaste along a stretch of sand known as the Gold Coast. Look to Tamarindo, Playa Grande, Playas Negra or Avellanas, for the best north Pacific surf breaks. For the advanced, don’t miss a surf tour to Ollie’s Point or Witch’s Rock.
Ollie’s Point at Portrero Grande offers a right point break with very fast and hollow waves. There is no road access so surfers must depart by rented boat or surf tour from Playa del Coco or Playa Ocotal. The right point break in Santa Rosa National Park is only accessible by boat from Playa del Coco. Witch’s Rock at Playa Naranjo, the surf spot forever immortalized by the film Endless Summer II, is home to some of the best breaks in Costa Rica. To get there, you'll have to leave from Playa del Coco by rented boat or with a surf tour.
Farther down near the Nicoya Peninsula, surfers will find the coastal towns of Samara and Nosara. For the best waves, visit in the dry season (Dec.-April) when offshore winds combine with intense Pacific swells to form perfect conditions.
Legendary surf breaks and broad stretches of rugged coastline have made Mal Pais one of the country’s most coveted surfing destinations. Located on the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, Mal Pais Beach town offers both seasoned and novice surfers consistent left and right breaks. A variety of surf schools give private and group lessons taught by the local pros. Multi-day surf camps include meals, transportation, daily classes and upscale lodging.
Just an hour drive from San Jose, Jaco is renowned for its year-round swells and happening party scene. The beach town is packed with surf schools and is a great spot for both novice and seasoned surfers. On the north-end of Jaco Beach, you'll find crumbling waves fit for surf lessons and beginners looking to practice while on the beach's south-end, intermediates and pros will find fast, hollow rights.
A few miles south of Jaco, Playa Hermosa offers some of the country's best surfing with huge hollow beach and point breaks and a laid-back surfer town to match.
There are often good waves along the pristine beaches of Manuel Antonio. Waves along Espadilla Beach break to the left and right and are ideal for beginners while Playa Playitas offers professionals a point break with hollow, powerful lefts and slow periods. Check out the river mouth break in Quepos when the surf gets bigger.
Dominical, the first stop on most adventures to the south Pacific, lures boarders with consistently big break. Less developed than Jaco and Tamarindo, Dominical has a laid-back vibe, affordable prices and a friendly surf culture.
The tiny village of Pavones, located on the Golfo Dulce, is known around the globe as having one of the longest left point breaks in the world. The record breaking wave lasts up to three minutes on a slow, south swell. You'll find the biggest waves from April through October during the wet season (May-Nov.) in Pavones.
Head deeper into the Osa Peninsula for a huge right among the isolated beaches of Cabo Matapalo, situated on the southern tip of the Osa Peninsula. Services and facilities are minimal in this undeveloped area, so surfers should bring their own boards. Playa Zancudo and Drake Bay also have some nice beach breaks. The south Pacific beaches are best from May to November.
Things are a bit quieter on the Caribbean coast, with the exception of Puerto Viejo's famed reef break known as Salsa Brava. Salsa Brava's huge hollow swells are formed by a reef underneath reserving these sets for the crazy, the audacious and the professional; check December through April for the best surf.
A little farther south, the beach break at Playa Cocles offers waves more suited to beginner and intermediate riders. Playa Negra in Cahuita has decent waves and the funky town is worth a visit even for non-surfers. Just off the Caribbean port of Limon lies Isla Uvita, an isolated island with adrenaline-pumping reef breaks. The Caribbean surf typically peaks from November through March.