Costa Rica is an incredible surf destination for a multitude of reasons. It’s tropical weather and warm waters. Yup, no wetsuit is needed when surfing in Costa Rica. It’s beautiful, palm tree lined, white sandy beaches. Finally, its vast array of super-cool surf camps. In this Costa Rica Surf Camp Guide we explore some of the best surf camps that span the entire length of the country.
Surfing can be done all year round in Costa Rica, but the rainy season between May and November produces larger swells and bigger waves. Choosing the right Costa Rica Surf Camp is therefore less dependent on seasonality and more around your own availability.
The entire pacific coast of Costa Rica is peppered with a wide array of different surf spots. Moreover, there also some decent surf spots on the Caribbean coast. However, this Costa Rica Surf Camp Guide will focus on the 6 major surfing destinations in the country. These are Tamarindo, Nosara, Santa Teresa, Jaco, Dominical and Pavones.
The Best Places To Surf
Costa Rica is well known for having incredible diversity when it comes to surf spots. Reef breaks, point breaks and beach breaks, it has it all. Whether you’re looking to ride the iconic right-hand point break of Ollies Point or get pitted at Witches Rock (Roca Bruja) – both made famous by the epic surf movie The Endless Summer – there’ll be a Costa Rica Surf Camp just right for you.
In this Costa Rica Surf Camp Guide we focus on the 6 main surfing areas on the Costa Rican Pacific coastline. All of these 6 areas offer surf spots for beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers.
Places like Tamarindo, Santa Teresa, and Playa Hermosa in Jaco are particularly renowned as excellent beaches to learn to surf at. Follow the links below to explore these surf areas where we provide all the key facts on each area. Furthermore, we’ll let you in on best surf camps in each area.
They say that there is a wave for everyone in Costa Rica, and having a spent a month surfing all along the pacific coastline we can vouch for this. Some beginner oriented spots like Tamarindo Beach get crowded during certain times of the year.
At the other end of the spectrum you can surf spots only accessible by boat where there’ll sometimes only be a few others out in the lineup. In this section we look at some of the best waves in Costa Rica for beginner and intermediate surfers.
Ollies Point, made famous be the legendary surf film, The Endless Summer, is an intermediate to advanced level wave. By most accounts Ollie’s is a pretty epic right-hand point break. It’s got lovely wide open sections for cutbacks as well as barrel sections as the picture above indicates.
It’s swell window isn’t that large and it works best in the spring and summer months on a low to mid tide. Ollie’s Point is only accessible by boat from Tamarindo, so be sure to follow the surf report before booking a boat trip to surf this amazing wave.
There is a Costa Rica surf camp called Ollie’s Point and they specialize in taking surfers to both Ollie’s Point and the more advanced Witches Rock (Roca Bruja).
Located just north of Tamarindo next to a river mouth, Playa Grande is a must visit if you’re staying in Tamarindo. It’s a lovely A-frame beach break that is uncrowded compared to Tamarindo. The break is more suited to intermediate than beginner surfers.
Tamarindo beach is an excellent beach for those learning to surf with many surf being in close proximity to the beach. It’s a fairly mellow beach break which can get very crowded in season. Although it’s well suited to beginner and intermediate surfers, be aware of the currents, as from time to time they can be very strong.
This is a really cool beach break in Nosara which lies south of Tamarindo, but still in the Guanacaste province. The surf at Guiones beach is ostensibly what started bringing American surfers to Costa Rica in the 1970’s. It’s wave for all levels, and many who have learnt to surf on this wave have ended up falling in love with surfing.
Playa Hermosa (Santa Teresa)
This sandy bottom beach with it’s long rolling waves is an excellent spot for beginner and intermediate surfers. It lies just north of Playa Santa Teresa and tends to be less crowded with a less punchy wave.
Another great little beach beach just south of Playa Santa Teresa. It marks the divide between Santa Teresa and Malpais. They host a lot of surf contests here because of the consistency of the wave. You can also surf here at night as there are spotlights shining out into the ocean.
Although not the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica, Jaco beach is one of the best beginner surf waves in Costa Rica. It’s a super mellow beach break and many first time surfers in central America have learnt to surf on this beach.
Playa Hermosa (Jaco)
Playa Hermosa offers some of the best and most consistent surf breaks in Costa Rica. It’s a very long beach with multiple peaks on offer. It’s better suited to an intermediate rather than beginner surfer due to the strongish currents that pervade the break.
Located 15 mins south of Dominical in a marine park which carries an entry fee of $6. Playa Uvita offers a lovely little break for beginners and intermediates. With no crowds and no major rip currents to speak of this beach is one of the best places to learn to surf in Costa Rica.
Another superb beach in the Dominical area that is perfect for beginner surfers. The wave breaks over a sandy bottom in both directions. The beach break is mostly secluded with no potential dangers relating to currents.
About 2 km’s up the Pavon Bay is El Higo. Essentially a replica of Pavones, but on a slightly smaller scale. This left hand point break runs for almost as long as Pavones, but is far less crowded and ideal for intermediate surfers. The swell window for the Pavone bay is rather small and swell needs to be coming from a south-westerly direction. Most surfers that venture to this south western tip of Costa Rica book trips on a whim when the surf forecasts indicate that there is swell hitting the bay.
Despite Costa Rica being a small country in terms of area its climate is diverse and varied. Though generally classified as a tropical country because of its close proximity to the equator, Costa Rica does not have a winter season, but instead it has a rainy season or green season.
The rainy season is from May to November and during this time the waves will be at their largest. The dry or summer season is from December to April, and swell size is generally smaller during this time.
When it rains in Costa Rica, it rains hard and over short periods. This means that certain areas can end up becoming flooded which may hinder accessibility in certain parts of the country where there are dirt roads.
Being so close to the equator means that the sun rises and sets at about the same time all year round. It rises at 0545 and sets at 1745.
The air temperature throughout the year is between 22 and 30 degrees celsius (71-86 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day. At night temperatures can drop down to as low at 14 degrees celsius (57 degrees Fahrenheit), most notably in San Jose where there is a micro climate of sorts.