If you are looking to ride your first tropical wave or want to catch airtime on a reef break, the appeal of surfing in Costa Rica is very strong. With approximately 800 miles (1200 kilometers) of coastline and a heavenly 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) every day, on a tropical backdrop second to none, it’s easy to see why so many surfers and wannabe surfers land here for the surf experience.
Costa Rica is positioned between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, only a six-hour drive apart, which helps make it the third largest surfing destination on the globe, after Hawaii and Indonesia. This unique position provides a vast array of well known and hidden big breaks to discover on your Costa Rican vacation.
The Gold Coast in the northwest is an ideal place for those in North Americans to visit when escaping the winter — summer in Costa Rica is December to April. The northwest region of Costa Rica has offshore winds that provide nice swells from December to March. The Caribbean coast is a great bet from November to March and you can count on the central and southern Pacific coasts from May to November for some amazing surfing. While December to April is the hottest and driest time of year in Costa Rica, it’s also the busiest. The rain season actually has very good weather as well with a few hour of rain per day on average, except for September and October which sees a great deal more rain.
Tamarindo on the northwest Pacific coast is a very good place to start if you’re looking for your first wave experience. It’s a tourist beach and decent breaks are within walking distance from hotels. It also has plenty of surf shops, surf schools and camps to provide you with lessons and rent you equipment. Ollie’s Point and Witches Rock, close to Tamarindo, are also well-known surfing spots, but these beaks have dangerous rocks and are tide-dependent, definitely for more experienced surfers.
Jaco on the central Pacific is also good for beginners with many schools, camps, and private instructor to get you going. Playa Hermosa just minutes south of Jaco is where they hosted the 2009 World Surf Championships, and is for more experience surfers with great waves that close hard at the shoreline. The central Pacific region alone has over 40 listed surf spots and many hidden ones as well.
Pavones in the far south Pacific and is one of Costa Rica’s most famous surf breaks offering one of the world’s longest lefts, which can deliver 2 to 3 minute rides on good days. This region of Costa Rica is very remote and it’s a long journey, but that’s just part of the adventure!
On the Caribbean side, Puerto Viejo is the place for experts and is very challenging. Salsa Brava has gigantic waves that can reach heights of 16 feet (4.8 meters).
There is definitely something for everyone in Costa Rica no matter what your skill level is. Whether surfing is a way of life for you or you just like fun on the ocean, in Costa Rica, the surf is always up.