Costa Rica is the most popular surfing destination in Central America due to it’s peaceful history and the large number of consistent, high quality waves that can be found here. This is the land of the “Endless Summer” and a great place for a first surf trip. It is a safe place to travel and the locals are usually quite friendly and happy to see other surfers. The down side is that it is getting expensive and crowded.
Costa Rica is home to some incredible waves like Witch’s Rock, Ollies Point, Pavones, Playa Negra, Playa Hermosa, Salsa Brava and tons of lesser known world class waves.
Costa Rica surf spots can be broken down into four basic regions: The North Pacific Region, The Central Pacific Region, The South Pacific Region and The Caribbean Region.
The North Pacific Region
Best during the dry season when Papagayo winds blow offshore all day long from December – April. This is where you’ll find Witch’s Rock and Ollies Point, both of which are best accessed by boat, departing from Playa Coco.
Tamarindo is the most popular beach town in the area and a good place to base your surf trips to the area. There are good waves in Tamarindo, but its usually quite weak. Playa Grande is just across the mouth of the Tamarindo Estuary and is an incredibly consistent beach break. Playa Langosta is located just south of Tamarindo and is another good beach break with some surfable reefs.
Playa Avellanas is a good beach break with a rivermouth and several reef breaks nearby, Little Hawaii being the best. South of Avellanas is Playa Negra, which is an incredibly consistent reef break and the place to go anytime there is swell.
Further south is Nosara, which has become a favorite spot for traveling surfers with a family. When speaking of Nosara, one is actually referring to Playa Guiones, a mellow beach break that is good for longboarders and beginners.
Mal Pais / Santa Teresa has some good beaches for surfing and several reefs that get world class like Suck Rock. Mal Pais is popular with the hippie set.
The Central Pacific Region
Jaco is by far the most popular and developed beach in Costa Rica. It has a reputation for illicit activities (drugs and prostitution) and is the playground for surfers looking for trouble and girls.
Playa Hermosa is only a few miles south, but a world apart. The waves in Playa Hermosa are heavy barreling beach break. When it gets big, expect a pounding. South of Playa Hermosa is Esterillos, a sleepy little town with some good beach break peaks and an incredible right-hand reef break.
The South Pacific Region
Dominical is a heavy barreling beach break that will beat you down on most swells. It will also give you a chance to catch the barrel that will make your surf trip to Costa Rica worthwhile. There are some unknown reefs nearby and the town is a magnate for European girls.
Pavones is the jewel of southern Costa Rica. Pavones is considered the second longest wave in the world. It is the best wave in Costa Rica, hands down. Where else in Costa Rica can you ride a wave, for nearly a mile that barrels and is good on most tides.
The Caribbean Region
Salsa Brava is the reason to go to the Caribbean region of Costa Rica if you are a surfer, though its not the only wave around. The Caribbean is fickle and the winds are not always favorable, but when its on there are several world-class reef breaks and lots of punchy uncrowded beach breaks.
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