Where to Find the Best Costa Rica Surf

Costa Rica surf is coveted for its year-round, varied waves on all its coasts.


The small country of Costa Rica in Central America is a fascinating place to visit. With 25% of the territory being protected by an extensive national parks system, it creates paradisaic views and a ton of activities for nature-lovers, adventurers and more.


But Costa Rica is also famous for its surf, and if you're reading this article, we know that's what you're here for.


Whether you're a rad surfer hunting monster waves, or a beginner looking for ankle-busters, prepare to get amped about your next surf adventure in Costa Rica!


Costa Rica Surf


Let's dive right into our top 5 spots for the best Costa Rica surf.


1. Experience Costa Rica Surf at Playa Tamarindo

Situated on the North Pacific coast, Playa Tamarindo is like a surfing 'course', with a variety of surf spots to choose from.


For beginners, the Tamarindo beach break is the one to try. Waves are usually smaller and great for the inexperienced, or those taking surfing lessons.


El Estero is more of an advanced surf spot, and with strong rip-tides a distinct possibility, you need to know what time high tide is that day, and how to avoid it.


Casitas is across the river from Tamarindo. It has waves that are great for beginners, as well as larger ones for those trying to learn how to ride bigger waves.


Pico Grande and Pico Peque O (Big Peak and Little Peak) are two breaks near a rock formation. Pico Grande breaks by the rocks, and Pico Peque O breaks closer in towards the shore.


While both of these breaks are best for intermediate surfers, beginners can ride the smaller waves near Little Peak, to gain some valuable surf experience.


If you're just breaking out of being a beginner surfer, and want to try something more challenging, then Langosta is the perfect next step. There are lefts and rights to be found here, but just be aware that it can get rather crowded, so mind your manners and remember your surfing etiquette for the best Costa Rica surf experience.


2. All Skill Levels Love Playa Hermosa and Jaco Beach

The stunning black sand at Playa Hermosa on the Central Pacific coast will astound you, but not as much as the surf will!


Just 1 hours 30 minutes away from San Jose, Playa Hermosa and Jaco beach are easily accessible. The town of Jaco has a great vibe. With heaps of restaurants, and everything else close by, it's a great place to stay to be near the surf.


The International Surfing Association love Playa Hermosa and Jaco as much as we do; they hosted the ISA World Surfing Games there in 2016!


With the giant waves that Hermosa offers, it's definitely for the more experienced surfer.


To find one of the best swells where the waves break, drive along the Playa Hermosa gravel road until you see a big almond tree (known as El Almendro to the locals). There will probably be some cars parked beneath it. El Almendro marks the spot where waves break beautifully and with a bigger swell. Many waves reach between 7 to 9 feet (2-3 meters), though some have been known to get as high as 13 feet (4 meters) tall!


Jaco Beach

While Hermosa is better for hardened surfers, Jaco is perfect for the beginners and more inexperienced seeking great Costa Rica surf.


With gentler waves and lessons available all around town, Jaco is great if you want to learn some surfing skills.


3. Use Your Skills at Playa Grande

Playa Grande is great for its consistency, and with it's steady, cranking waves, it's a popular Costa Rica surf spot.


Waves can reach to a few feet overhead and are great for intermediate to advanced surfers. Low tide isn't great though, due to coral reefs that can wipe out any surfer and chew up your board pretty bad.


Playa Grande is on the North Pacific coast. Head out there in December or January and you'll get smaller, perfect waves. February through November and the swells will be big, beautiful, and plentiful.


Because it is such a popular spot, the beach can get fairly crowded, and with so many surfers there, surfing etiquette can go out the window. Be prepared, stick to the rules, and you'll have a great surf experience riding these A-class waves.


4. Ride the Longest Left in the World at Playa Pavones

Known as the 'Longest Left in the World', Playa Pavones generates major waves that can carry you for over a half a mile (1km) in just 3 minutes!


Due to its remote location, this Costa Rica surf spot isn't overrun with tourists. If it didn't take 8 hours to get here from San Jose, though, it would be; this truly is the best surf in southern Costa Rica.


When the swell hits, the waves are constant and plenty.


The best waves come during the months of April to November. Be prepared for some of the best breaks of your life.


5. Find Monster Waves at Salsa Brava (Puerto Viejo)

Located on the Caribbean coast, Salsa Brava is the biggest wave in Costa Rica. It's famous and dangerous, and you should only attempt it if you're a pro.


The nearby Playa Cocles is just a 10-minute walk away. It has also got some great breaks, though these waves are only slightly smaller than the monster that is Salsa Brava.


The town of Puerto Viejo, where Salsa Brava is situated, is pretty popular with surfer tourists, so be prepared to share the waves.


Be careful when the seas are choppy, though; the current's pretty strong so make sure you're in the right state to ride it out.


The Takeaway

Whether you're a thrill-seeker looking for that giant wave, a long ride, or those smaller waves for when you're just starting out, look no further than the surfer's paradise of Costa Rica.


With so many Costa Rica surf destinations to choose from, it was hard to pick just 5. But these swells and perfect waves are so varied that, whatever your skill level, you'll find just the break for you.


Liked this article? Why not check out our 1-day tours in San Jose and see some more of the country before you hit the water.

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