Considered a mecca for the serious surfer, especially with consistent waves year round, Costa Rica is the place to go for surfing whether you are a beginner or advanced wave rider no matter the season. So you want to hit the waves, where should you go based on your skill level? When should you go, during the summer (May-October) or winter (November-March)? Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and more!
1. Samara, First time surfers. If you have never been on a board before and want to really learn how to balance on the board before hitting slightly larger waves, Samara should be your first stop. Because of an earthquake a couple of years ago, the barrier reef was raised about a half a foot, stopping the surf and causing waves to break really close to shore. Because of the gentle nature of the waves, this makes Samara the perfect place to get on a board for the first time as you can ride through the whitewash straight onto shore.
2. Playa Tamarindo, Beginners and above. One of the more famous surf spots in Costa Rica, Tamarindo boasts lots of surf spots especially in the bay and close access to other spots such as Witch’s Rock, Playa Langosta, and Playa Negra. With lots of surf schools and surf shops in Tamarindo new surfers who don’t have the proper gear will be able to get all they need to ride the waves. While waves are fairly consistent year round, the winter usually brings in smaller waves, while the summer brings in larger waves.
3. Jacó, Beginners and above. A fairly busy beach town, Jacó is known for their nightlife and surf. It’s also the closest surf spot to San Jose International Airport. With a fun beach break, it’s a great spot for beginners, or really any skill level. Like Playa Tamarindo, there are lots of surf schools, camps, and shops for newbies to get the gear needed to surf. For beginners, the best times to go to Jacó would be during the winter. For intermediate and above, the summer brings larger swells.
4. Nosara, Beginners and above. Nosara consists of two main surf spots, Playa Guinoes and Playa Pelada. For beginners, Playa Guinoes is the place to be, with an easy beach break and plenty of room to spread out in the large bay. Playa Pelada, on the other hand, has three reef breaks that is good for those with some experience. Best times to visit Nosara are the summer for Playa Guinoes and the winter for Playa Pelada.
5. Witch’s Rock, Intermediate to Advanced. One of the harder surf spots to get to as you really can’t just drive there; rather, the best way to get to Witch’s Rock is to take a boat from Playas del Coco. Since being featured in the movie “The Endless Summer II” it’s become a very popular surf spot. With both right and left breaks, and the best waves in front of the rock, it’s not a place for beginners. Best time to hit the waves for the biggest and best swells at Witch’s Rock is in the summer.
6. Hermosa, Intermediate to Advanced. About 5 minutes south of Jaco, Hermosa is one of the most consistent surf spots in Costa Rica, and usually isn’t overcrowded. With powerful beach break waves, and larger swells, a lot of surfboards have broken here so watch out. Best time to hit the waves at Hermosa depends on if you’re looking for larger swells or cleaner conditions. For larger swells the summer is best, but for cleaner conditions come in the winter.
7. Boca Barranca, Intermediate to Advanced. With the second longest peeling wave in Costa Rica after Pavones, Boca Barranca delivers a left point break the peels for a half a mile. The long rides on these waves are worth the spot’s tendency to get crowded. Best time to go though is in the summer.
8. Pavones, Intermediate to Advanced. Boasting one of the largest left-hand point break waves in the world with fast waves and long walls, surfing in Pavones is no joke. Getting here is as difficult as the waves here as the area is very remote. The best time to make your way down to Pavones is during the summer which brings a large swell from the southwest.
9. Ollie’s Point. Experienced. Close to the Nicaraguan border, and only accessible by boat from Playas del Coco, Ollie’s Point is the place for only surfers with serious skills. With a right point break that can only break if there’s a strong swell from the southwest or northwest, the waves can get fast, long, and powerful. The best time to hit the waves here is from late March to October.
10. Pan Dulce. Experienced. Pan Dulce is in a very remote location where many people don’t tend to venture. The waves can be fickle and need a large swell to even start breaking, but on a great day Pan Dulce offers a right-hand break that peels and tubes for 500 yards. Best time to make your way here is during the summer.
There you have it folks! Ten awesome places in Costa Rica to hit the waves, and surf to your heart’s content. So grab your board, surf’s up! Pura Vida!