Costa Rica Surf Spots and Information

Costa Rica, the “rich coast,” has an abundance of great breaks and stunning natural beauty, making it a top destination for surfers worldwide. Compared to some of her neighboring countries, Costa Rica is relatively safe and provides all the necessities for a great surf trip.

The popularity of the country brings crowds to the popular spots during peak seasons. But surf spots can be found up and down both sides of Costa Rica. And poor roads keep some breaks free of the masses. Costa Rica has shoreline both on the Caribbean (east side) and on the Pacific (west side).

  • Caribbean Coast. The east coast has a shorter, less reliable surfing season, but tropical storms can create killer swells. On the Caribbean, the surf is best during the hot and dry season from October until April.

  • North Pacific Coast. The waves on the west coast don’t hit the same heights seen during the storms on the Caribbean, but the waves are consistently good year-round. The rainy season provides the best swells on the Pacific side from March to mid- December. The dry season on the west coast, from late November until early March, isn’t too bad either. But again, the waves are good year round on the Pacific.

Water temperatures don’t change a whole lot on either side, hovering around 80 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. A rash guard and liberal amounts of sunscreen are a good call against the tropical sun.

Ollie’s Point and Playa Naranjo (Witches Rock) are a must-surf for anyone looking to catch great waves in a gorgeous and remote setting. Thankfully, Costa Rica is full of lightly traveled surf destinations awaiting your arrival. Get out there and explore!

Find a surf school in Costa Rica.

Read Our Nosara, Costa Rica Surf Travel Guide.

North Pacific Coast Costa Rica Surf Spots


Ollie’s Point

Surf Location North Pacific Coast near Nicarguan boarder. Only accessible by boat. Trips run from Playas del Coco.
Best Swell Direction Southwest
Best Tide Low to Medium
Best Wind Direction Northeast
Best Surf Season Late March - October
Wave Quality Right point break with fast, long and powerful waves. For the experienced surfer. Needs a strong swell from the southwest or northwest to break.
The Surfers Can get busy on weekends
Boards Shortboard, fish, funboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Advanced
Bottom Some rocks, mostly sand
Watch Out For… Rocks
Water Condition Clean

Ollie's Point, Costa Rica - Surf Video

 

 

Witches Rock (Playa Naranjo)

Surf Location Boat trips run from Playas del Coco. Very hard to access by car.
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest
Best Tide Medium high
Best Wind Direction Northeast
Best Surf Season Biggest and best swell in summer. Winter has steady offshore winds for clean conditions.
Wave Quality Fast, hollow rights and lefts. Best waves are in front of the rock.
The Surfers Its feature in the Endless Summer II keeps this place busy
Boards Shortboard, fish, funboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate, but can be a horrific paddle if the swell is maxing
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Poor road conditions, big crocs called Caymen from the estuary, the bugs and mosquitoes are thicker than the waves
Water Condition Clean
 

Playa Tamarindo

Surf Location North Pacific Coast
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest,West
Best Tide Medium High
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Consistent and good year round. Largest waves in summer. Smaller, cleaner waves in winter.
Wave Quality There are a variety of good surf spots in Tamarindo Bay. The Tamarindo Rivermouth is a solid right-hand wave. Other quality local waves: Pico Pequeno – mellow reef break; Old Man’s – good longooard wave; and Playa Langosta – fun outside reef and inside beachbreak.
The Surfers Huge surf destination, everyone surfs here from total beginners to talented locals and traveling surfers
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to easy
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand and rock
Watch Out For… Rocks and thieves, don’t leave valuables in car
Water Condition Clean, can get dirty during the rainy season
 

Playa Grande

Surf Location Moderate walk from Tamarindo, or drive and park at Hotel Las Tortugas
Best Swell Direction Southwest, West
Best Tide Mid
Best Wind Direction Northeast, East
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality Powerful beachbreak waves with steep hollow faces that tube in some sections. Very playful waves, good for high-performance surfing.
The Surfers A lot of foreigners keep competition stiff for the waves, especially on super crowded weekends with Americans on vacation
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Medium
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Freak set waves
Water Condition Clean
 

Playa Negra – Avellanes

Surf Location Just south of Tamarindo
Best Swell Direction South, West
Best Tide All
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality Fun beachbreak waves good for all ability levels. Find larger waves on the northern section of the bay.
The Surfers All ability levels surf here. It can get fairly crowded. The experienced surfers keep north usually.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Beginner to Intermediate
Bottom Sand, rock towards the south
Watch Out For… Freak set waves that roll through during larger swells
Water Condition Clean
 

Playa Negra, Costa Rica - Surf Video

 

Read Our Destination Guide for Nosara, Costa Rica.

Nosara – Playa Guinoes and Playa Pelada

Surf Location South of Tamarindo
Best Swell Direction Southwest, Northwest
Best Tide Low tide at Playa Guinoes, High tide at Playa Pelada
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Summer for Playa Guinoes, Winter for Playa Pelada
Wave Quality The main spots in this region are: Playa Guinoes, a really fun beach break that is good for all ability levels; and Playa Pelada, which features 3 reef breaks that are good for more experienced surfers
The Surfers Playa Guinoes does get crowded, but it’s a very big bay, so there is plenty of room to spread out. Playa Pelada is very localized, so beware if surfing here.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate, can be tough during large swells
Skill Level Beginner to Experienced
Bottom Sand at Playa Guinoes. Rocks and reef at Playa Pelada.
Watch Out For… Rocks and thieves at Playa Pelada. Petty theft at Playa Guinoes.
Water Condition Clean
 

Mal Pais

Surf Location On the Southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula
Best Swell Direction Northwest, West, Southwest
Best Tide Low and mid rising
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Clean, offshore winds blow during the winter months. Bigger swells hit consistently during the summer months.
Wave Quality Mal Pais can get big. Playa Carmen and Play Santa Teresa are the main beach breaks in this area. Punta Barrigona is a short and weak left-hand point break at Mar Azul Hotel & Bar. Los Suecos is a powerful reefbreak near the Sunset Reef Hotel.
The Surfers A decent number of surfers spread out over a fairly large area, not too crowded
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Medium
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand, some rocks
Watch Out For… Stingrays on the ocean floor, and rocks at the ocean's edge
Water Condition Clean, can get dirty during the rainy season

Mal Pais, Costa Rica - Surf Video

 

 

Central Pacific Coast Costa Rica Surf Spots


Boca Barranca

Surf Location Central Pacific coast: north of Puerto Caldera and south of Punteranes
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest
Best Tide Low and mid
Best Wind Direction Northeast, East
Best Surf Season Summer, from May to October
Wave Quality Boca Barranca is a fun left point break that peels for a half mile. Boca Baranca is the second longest peeling wave in Costa Rica. Pavones is the longest, and should not be missed. If surfing here, be sure to check the tides, as wave quality can change drastically with tide.
The Surfers Lots of surfers can keep this place crowded, but the long rides are worth it. Get up early.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Flat rocks and sand
Watch Out For… This is one of the worst crime areas in Costa Rica. I wouldn’t stay in this area overnight.
Water Condition Dirty
 

Playa Escondido

Surf Location Central Pacific Coast – near the Marriott Los Suenos Marina. Accessible only by boat.
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest
Best Tide Mid
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Summer, May - October
Wave Quality This place goes OFF!! Right and left peeling reef break that produces thick, speedy walls that can get hollow. Best for more experienced surfers.
The Surfers This place does get crowded with locals and traveling surfers. The takeoff zone is very narrow at Playa Escondido, so it does get competitive in the lineup.
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Coral and sharp rocks in the reef, undertow and riptides
Water Condition Clean
 

Jaco

Surf Location Closest surf town from San Jose International Airport
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest
Best Tide All
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Summer (May–October) for larger swells. Winter (November–March) for cleaner surfing conditions.
Wave Quality Fun beach break where many beginners ride their first wave in Costa Rica
The Surfers This is one of the busiest areas in Costa Rica, but it’s a pretty relaxed atmosphere in the water. Good for all ability levels.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Easy to difficult
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sandy
Watch Out For… Thieves
Water Condition Clean to dirty, depending on the rain
 

Hermosa

Surf Location Just 5 minutes south from Jaco
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest
Best Tide High, Low
Best Wind Direction East, Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer (May–October) for larger swells. Winter (November–March) for cleaner surfing conditions.
Wave Quality The most consistent surf spot in Costa Rica. Very powerful beachbreak waves that tend to close out on larger swells. Lots of surfboard break here, so come prepared.
The Surfers Generally, it’s not too crowded. There is plenty of room to spread out. Under great conditions the experts come out, but it’s only crowded when school’s out (June –August).
Boards Big wave gun, shortboard, tow equipment
Paddle Out Moderately difficult
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Crocs, closeouts on double overhead waves, riptides and car break-ins. Watch out for the “Tree.”
Water Condition Clean
 

Esterillos

Surf Location South of Hermosa. This area has two different breaks: Oeste (West) and Este (East).
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest
Best Tide Medium high
Best Wind Direction Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer (May–October) for larger swells. Winter (November–March) for cleaner surfing conditions.
Wave Quality Normal-size but somewhat weak waves are fun and break both left and right. Similar to Hermosa but less surfers.
The Surfers Not that busy
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderately difficult
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand and rocks
Watch Out For… Crocs, rip currents
Water Condition Clean

Playa Bejuco, Costa Rica - Surf Video

 

 

South Pacific Coast Costa Rica Surf Spots


Dominical

Surf Location Dominical is the first major beach destination heading south along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast.
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest
Best Tide All
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Summer (May–October) for larger swells. Winter (November–March) for cleaner surfing conditions.
Wave Quality Head high to double overhead waves are surefire year round for fast surfing on hollow and powerful waves. When too big, head to the point. Good chance of breaking a board here.
The Surfers Not too many people out at any one time (moderate to crowded on good swells)
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to difficult depending on the swell
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced. Beginners need to learn closer to shore.
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Stingrays, serious riptides, jellyfish
Water Condition Clean
 

Matapalo

Surf Location South of Puerto Jimenez, on the tip of the Osa Peninsula. Drop dead gorgeous location!
Best Swell Direction West, Southwest
Best Tide Mid
Best Wind Direction South, East
Best Surf Season Summer (May – October) consistently brings larger swells from the southwest
Wave Quality Awesome right-hand point-break that peels for over 200 yards. There are plenty of fast, hollow sections on this wave.
The Surfers Not many out in remote and pristine Matapalo
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to difficult
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Reef and sand
Watch Out For… Rocks, riptides, sharks (or ex-pat locals trying to scare you with shark tales!)
Water Condition Varies, but mostly clean
 

Pan Dulce

Surf Location South of Matapalo
Best Swell Direction Needs a large south swell
Best Tide Mid
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Summer (May – October)
Wave Quality Right-hand point break that peels and tubes for 500 yards on a great day. It is a very fickle wave, and needs a large swell to start breaking.
The Surfers Not many people in this remote area
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate, you can walk out to the point
Skill Level Experienced
Bottom Reef, rocks, and sharks
Watch Out For… Rocks
Water Condition Clean and clear
 

Pavones

Surf Location Across the Gulfo Dulce from the Osa Peninsula. Very difficult to access.
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest, West
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction East, Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer (May – October) brings large southwest swells that make the waves at Pavones fire
Wave Quality This is one of the longest left-hand point break waves in the world. Very fast waves, with long walls that require high-performance surfing.
The Surfers Large crowds when a swell arrives. This area is very remote, and the locals do not like obnoxious traveling surfers. Be on your best behavior.
Boards Shortboard, fish, funshape, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to difficult depending on the swell size, but you can walk to the point
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced. Beginners should find another wave because this place does get crowded.
Bottom Sand and rocks
Watch Out For… Crowds, mosquitoes and potholes
Water Condition Clean

Pavones, Costa Rica - Surf Video

 

 

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