10 Best Surf Spots In Costa Rica

surf spots in costa rica
Sowmya
Sowmya  
Updated

An outstanding surfing destination, Costa Rica offers a great range of surf spots, constant warm weather and plenty of beach towns with a vibrant atmosphere. You’ll find beaches that suit your level of surfing, that offer consistent, reliable breaks, and waves that will thrill you, often throughout the year. Surfing beaches can be found both on its coastline on the Pacific Ocean side as well as on the Caribbean side. The country’s most popular surfing spots are primarily spread across its three provinces - Guanacaste, Limón and Puntarenas. Read below to find out about the 10 best surf spots in Costa Rica that offer great opportunities to ride the waves.

1. Playa Dominical

Playa Dominical (Pazifik)
Source: Photo by user Peter Stiegmaier used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Located in the southern pacific coast of Costa Rica, in Puntarenas province, Dominical, with its laidback atmosphere, has been a favorite destination for surfers for years now. More suited for intermediate and expert surfers, the beach offers a consistent surf with a sand bottom. The exposed beach break offers great waves at mid-tide and high tide, that breaks both lefts and rights, well-suited for experienced surfers. Surfers must, however, be on alert for dangerous rips. As a popular beach, it can get crowded at times.

2. Playa Jacó

Playa Jacó
Source: Photo by user Pantar used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Known for its nightlife, Playa Jacó in Golfo de Nicoya attracts both locals as well as tourists from across the world in droves. Playa Jaco has an exposed beach break that has very reliable surf all through the year. You will find here both lefthanders and right-handers. The beach is suitable for surfers of all levels, though the dangerous rip tides require caution. Beginners will find tons of surf camps and stores to get started. As a popular beach town, you will find it crowded all through the seasons.

3. Salsa Brava

Beach in Puerto Viejo
Source: Photo by user Joi Ito used under CC BY 2.0

The infamous Salsa Brava has a reputation for its spectacular waves that thrill expert surfers! Located on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, the beach offers a consistent surf with righthand reef breaks that are said to be the most powerful in the country. Waves are deep, hollow going up to 12ft (4m) and beyond, so this is not for beginners! The beach’s coral reef break is the primary reason for its fearsome waves that can leave even experienced surfers awestruck. The beach is surfable all through the year, but the months between December and March are the most fun. Located in Limon, Puerto Viejo is a buzzing beach town with a vibrant nightlife, so expect a lot of crowds.

4. Witch's Rock

Surfing-Roca Bruja-Guanacaste-Costa Rica
Source: Photo by user dog4aday used under CC BY 2.0

Located in Costa Rica’s southern province of Guanacaste along Playa Naranjo, Witch’s Rock or Roca Bruja is named after a large rock formation. The surf spot is hard to access as it is situated within Santa Rosa National Park - you will need to get on a boat to reach here! Naturally, there are no surf camps, stores or restaurants/accommodation, though you’ll find camping grounds nearby. The beach offers a consistent surf wth both right and lefthanded breaks. Waves are of a unique shape thanks to the sandbar that’s created by the river mouth at the beach. The best time to surf is during high tides and from December through to March.

5. Playa Tamarindo

Tamarindo beach-Guanacaste-Costa Rica
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jarle Naustvik used under CC BY 2.0

Perfect for beginners, Playa Tamarindo in Guanacaste offers a beach break with both lefts and rights and consistent surf. The beach features a river mouth that leads to incredible waves. There is a flat sandy bottom and the best time to surf is usually during the mid-high tide. Tamarindo is the second largest beach in Costa Rica, so you’ll find heavy crowds all through the year. September through December are the best months to be here.

6. Pavones

View from above
Source: Photo by user Arturo Sotillo used under CC BY-SA 2.0

One of the most remote surf spots, the legendary Pavones beach attracts serious surfers as it is said to have the longest left in the region. Located in Golfo Dulce, a couple of hours’ drive from Golfito, Pavones is a sheltered beach break with a rather inconsistent surf. However, when waves do come, they can go on for nearly 400 to 900 meters (0.3 - 0.6 mi). The beach break has a sandy bottom with rocks, therefore, you need to be careful. Not surprisingly, the beach is recommended for intermediate to expert surfers. April to November is the best time to try your luck.

7. Playa Negra

Playa Negra
Source: Photo by user dog4aday used under CC BY 2.0

Guanacaste province’s most popular surfing town, Playa Negra is favored by surfers of all expertise levels. The beach break offers a consistent surf with mostly righthand barrels. The beach has a rocky bottom and can be tricky during low tides, so mid to high tides are the best time. Suitable particularly for beginners, the beach can often get crowded through the year, though the ideal months to be here are between December and April. Playa Negra offers little facilities but Tamarindo, a major beach town is close by.

8. Playa Avellanas

Playa Avellanas Surfers at Lola's
Source: Photo by user BirdsEyePix used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Shaped like a crescent, Playa Avellanas in Guanacaste province is a sandy beach break that offers consistent surf all through the year, and at all tides. Lesser known than other surfing spots you will find seven different breakpoints created by a sandbar, offering both lefthanded and righthanded breaks. The breaks by the river mouth offer the best waves for all surfers, while the reef break, named Little Hawaii, within a rocky cave is for expert surfers. The best time to go is from November to April, though the beach remains mostly crowded. Beware of dangerous rips.

9. Playa Grande

Playa Grande
Source: Photo by user jipe7 used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Located inside a national reserve, Playa Grande is often known more for being the famous nesting spot for the endangered leatherback turtles. However, it is actually also a fantastic surfing spot. The beach offers very reliable surf that makes it ideal for surfing at all times of the year, by surfers of all levels.

10. Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa
Source: Photo by user Thomas Duesing used under CC BY 2.0

Located in Golfo de Nicoya, Playa Hermosa is a beach break with highly consistent surf and great hollow barrels that make it ideal for experienced surfers. Featuring unique black sand, the beach is around 7 km (4.3 mi) long with a sandy bottom and it offers three breaks, with waves going both left and right. The beach hosts professional surfing championships and the best time to visit is between the months of May and November. The heavy waves make the beach unsuitable for beginners.

Experience the best surf spots in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Playa Tamarindo and Grande 2007 aerial photograph tamarindowiki
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tamarindowiki used under CC BY-SA 3.0

As one of the safest countries in South America, Costa Rica has been seeing a dramatic increase in tourism, which naturally makes the major beaches quite crowded. These best surf spots In Costa Rica can be counted among the most exciting surfing destinations of, not only the country but also the world, so you are sure to have a surfing vacation of a lifetime.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Writing and travelling both bring joy to Sowmya's life. Her favourite destination so far is Bhutan. A land of incredible beauty! And her favourite style of travelling is solo backpacking!...Read more

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