Costa Rica has become one of the favourite destinations for surfing worldwide thanks to the wide variety of beaches and waves, different from the Ocean to the Caribbean sea and from the beach to the beach. Furthermore, going from one coast to the other will take you just a few hours of travel since less than 200 miles separate them. So definitively, the Costa Rica surf is one of the best in the world.
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When to surf in Costa Rica
To experience the best Costa Rica surf, you should choose the best time of year to visit this country, considering both weather and high season periods when tourists from around the world visit Costa Rica.
During the summer months in Costa Rica (from December to April), the temperatures are very high, and precipitation is low. However, in this period, especially at Christmas, New Year and Easter, the beaches are crowded, so to practice surfing in Costa Rica is trickier.
Furthermore, the excellent weather brings a flat and calm sea, not the best to surf in Costa Rica. The best surfing beaches are found in the northern peninsula (Nicoya) or the Caribbean Sea.
On the contrary, the rainy season in Costa Rica goes from May till the end of November. During May, June, July and August, temperatures remain high and heavy rains persist until the end of autumn. The typical weather conditions are sunny and clear sky with rain in the early morning or late evening.
The times of heavy rain begins in September and lasts until the end of November. During this period, the waves are more frequent and attractive than the summer season, and the beaches are less crowded.
Where to surf in Costa Rica
There are four different main areas for Costa Rica surf: the Caribbean and North coasts, South Central and Pacific. Naturally, the Pacific coast has more spots to practice, most of them located in Guanacaste, in the country’s northwest. Still, there are also excellent beaches in the Central Pacific and the southern Pacific and the Caribbean area.
Surf in Costa Rica North Pacific
You’ll find three of the best beaches for surfing in the whole of Costa Rica and maybe of Central America.
Costa Rica Surf – Potrero Beach
- Potrero Grande (Ollie’s Point), which offers excellent waves and winds for this sport, is located in a very isolated and difficult to reach area. To get to Potrero Grande, you should take a boat from Playas del Coco. In Potrero Grande, there is no accommodation nor food provides.
- Playa Negra is also difficult to reach the beach, but not so much: you can get there by car, crossing the bridge on Tempisque river (better if with 4×4). Here you can also find hotels, cabañas and camping areas as well as restaurants and bars.
- Roca Bruja, located in Santa Rosa National Park, is preferred in the Northern Pacific thanks to its quick wave with perfect tubes. However, take care if you surf near Naranjo River because sometimes there can be crocodiles. It is possible to access by sea or land; if done by land, make sure to drive a 4×4.
Other beaches for surfing in Costa Rica Noth Pacific are: Playa Naranjo, Playa Grande, Tamarindo, Playa Langosta, Avellanas, Junquillal and Nosara.
Surf in Costa Rica Central Pacific
The main access point to the Central Pacific Coast for surfers is Jaco, which offers a wide variety of hotels and accommodations and restaurants, bars, entertainment and shopping centres. It is also a good beach for surfing in Costa Rica. The most recommended surfing beaches in the Central Pacific are:
Costa Rica Surf – boca barranco
- Playa Escondida, located 30 minutes by car from Jaco or 20 minutes by boat, is a beach for experienced surfers, with high-quality fast waves coming from right to left. It’s a famous beach, so it is crowded, especially during the weekends.
- Boca Barranco, the favourite beach for its longwave from the left with a length of more than half a mile (950 metres), is simple to reach just 5 minutes north of Puerto Caldera, crossing the Barranca river.
- Playa Hermosa is one of the beaches with the most consistent waves in the world (more than 150 days per year). Playa Hermosa hosted the World Surfing Championship in 2009. It is located just 5 minutes by foot from Jaco and just half an hour by car from San José. It is about 8 kilometres long, and the whole beach is excellent for surfing in Costa Rica, although you should be cautious as it has strong currents and waves coming from right to left.
Other beaches which attract many surfers in Central Pacific are Bocaquepo, Esterillos, Gully’s, Bejuco and more.
Surf in Costa Rica South Pacific
South Pacific Coast is located in Corcovado National park and offers a wide range of good beaches for surfers.
Costa Rica Surf – Matapalo Beach
- Matapalo has located about 20 km from the Corcovado National Park, in the Cabo Matapalo area. This is a beach that offers world-class waves. Matapalos is famous thanks to its right long wave and one of the more consistent beaches in Costa Rica with more than 150 waves days per year.
- Golfito Pavones, a little more south, has one of the best waves in the world, with more than 1 km long.
- Punta Banco: if you follow the road along the coast to the south from Golfito Pavones, you reach Punta Banco, a series of rights and lefts beaches along 4 km what makes it very popular with surfers, although it is not very suitable for swimming.
Other beaches that attract surfers in South Pacific are Playa Blanca (for beginners), Perro Fino, Roca Loca, Turtle Farms and more.
Surf in Costa Rica Caribbean coast
There are indeed fewer good beaches for surfers on the Caribbean coast than on the other coast due to the characteristics. However, all 12 beaches suitable for surf offers good quality and more accommodations than Pacific Coast beaches.
Costa Rica Surf – Manzanillo Beach
- Puerto Viejo, also known as Salsa Brava, is one of the most visited beaches by surfers, thanks to its waves and tubes of great size and strength. It is recommended for very experienced and daring surfers.
- Manzanillo is one of the best beaches on the Caribbean Coast. To reach Manzanillo, you should drive to Gandoca National Park in Manzanillo. Park your car there and traverse the path for 1.5 kilometres. The trail end, and you will have to hike through the jungle next to the beach. You’ll find there a very fast and powerful right wave.
Other good beaches for surf in Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast are Playa Bonita, Isla Uvita, Playa Grande, and Los tumbos.