Costa Rica is a natural paradise, home to beautiful sandy beaches, rain-forest landscapes, and friendly locals. It’s also one of the world’s top surfing destinations. It has over 210 kilometers of shoreline on the Caribbean, and a whopping 1,016 kilometers along the Pacific. The main surf regions are Puntarenas and Guanacaste on the west coast and Limón on the east. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or still learning to balance, here are the best surfing spots in Costa Rica.
Playa Tamarindo is one of the best-known surf resorts on the Pacific coast. It has offshore winds, reefs, and constant swells to help you perfect your art. This popular surfing destination caters to both beginner and intermediate levels. It gives you the option to surf 3 different destinations within a few miles, including Playas Grande and Langosta. Tamarindo is a nature lovers paradise. Nearby, you’ll find Las Baulas National Marine Park – home to mangroves, leatherback sea turtles and colourful birdlife. The lively resort also offers a wide range of shopping, outdoor activities, and unique culinary experiences.
Best Time to Surf Playa Tamarindo – March to November
This beach is located a few kilometers from the bustling resort of Jaco. Playa Hermosa boasts a vast stretch of black sand beach with strong swells, breaks, and barrels even at low tide! It’s truly a surf paradise where experienced swell hunters flock to participate in contests held throughout the year. Beginners will enjoy surfing at nearby Jaco Beach, with its tamer waves and several surf schools. Jaco is a buzzing surf and party town with a mix of budget and luxury accommodations, and great shopping. It’s also full of adventure parks and activities such as ziplining, ATV tours, and canyoning. There’s also a lively nightlife scene, with plenty of options to kick back after a thrilling day riding the waves.
Best Time to Surf Playa Hermosa –April to November
Pavones is a small beach town in southwestern Costa Rica dedicated to surfers. It’s slightly off the beaten track and not easily accessible, but well-known by professionals for having one of the world’s longest left-hand surf breaks. Other outdoor activities in the area include nature hikes, horseback riding, yoga, and Spanish classes, plus there are several bars, cafes, and restaurants in which to meet like-minded adventurers. Truly one of the best surfing spots in Costa Rica!
Best Time to Surf Pavones – March to November
Nestled on the Nicoya Peninsula, the region of Malpaís is made up of 3 resorts – Santa Teresa, Playa Carmen, and Malpaís. This remote rainforest-covered destination is an excellent choice for novice surfers. At Playa Carmen, the break keeps waves below 3 feet, making it a great place for beginners. If you’re more experienced, Santa Teresa offers high swells, point breaks and beach breaks. There are several surf shops offering lessons and board rentals if you don’t wish to bring your own. In addition to surfing, Malpaís is abundant with yoga retreats, nature reserves, waterfall hikes, and laid-back bars where you can marvel at the glorious sunsets.
Best Time to Surf Malpaís – April to October
With over 300 days of surfable waves annually, Playa Guiones on the Nicoya Peninsula is one of the most consistent surf spots in Costa Rica! A sand bottom beach break makes it easy for surf beginners and intermediates, but it’s appealing for skilled surfers as well, with sizeable swells coming in. Set amidst a peaceful location renowned for incredible sunsets and pristine beaches flanked by palm trees and rainforests, Playa Guiones is a tranquil paradise where you can completely relax and be at one with nature.
Best Time to Surf Playa Guiones – March to November
If you’re up for the challenge, Salsa Brava has some of the biggest waves in Costa Rica. Located on the Caribbean coast, close to the laid-back tourist town of Puerto Viejo, this is a destination suited for expert surfers. Salsa Brava is known for its large hollow waves and coral reef breaks, with rides consistently ranging between 50 to 150 meters. The waves drop quickly into a right-hand barrel, so you’ll need to be fast on your feet. It’s challenging, but if you manage to ride the tube, you can count yourself as one of the few to conquer it.
Best Time to Surf Salsa Brava – December to February.
The silky sands of Playa Naranjo stretch out along the shoreline of Santa Rosa National Park on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. With fast, hollow, and commanding waves breaking to the left and right, you should only surf here if you’re a seasoned pro. Most surfers take a boat out to Witch’s Rock to ride world-class waves, however, stay alert, as a few sharks occasionally patrol the waters. There are no luxury accommodations around Playa Naranjo, but adventurers can camp with other surf enthusiasts inside the beautiful national park. Now grab a board and head to one, or all, of the best surfing spots in Costa Rica!
Best Time to Surf Playa Naranjo – December to March