Costa Rica attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year due to its lush rainforests, unspoilt beaches and exotic wildlife, including a certain species of adorable tree frog! The country is also one of the best places to surf in the world, and travelers from across the globe come here to ride the huge waves and enjoy the spectacular scenic beauty of Costa Rica's two coastlines. Unfortunately, some people can only stay here for a short while before they have to go back home, but what if you're planning a surfing vacation in Costa Rica that will last a little longer? If the idea of spending a week or two riding the best waves in the world appeals to you, take a surfing vacation on Costa Rica's southern Pacific Coast.
Jaco and Playa Hermosa
If you're keen to hit the waves after a long flight, Jaco should be your first stop. Just one and a half hour's drive from San Jose International Airport, Jaco offers some great waves. If you're an experienced surfer, head straight to Playa Hermosa, which is south of Jaco. Boasting more than three miles of beach, Hermosa offers several breaks including Caldera, a rivermouth break with great lefts. Conditions at this break are best at high tide, but if you're riding the waves in front of the Tulin Wildlife Refuge, wait for a low tide. The peaks can get pretty tough during strong swells, but they're not too difficult for intermediate surfers.
The next stop on your Costa Rica surfing vacation to the southern Pacific Coast should be Dominical in South Puntarenas. Easily accessible by the newly paved Costanera road from nearby San Isidro, this beach break offers surfers strong lefts and rights, with fairly consistent conditions depending on swells.
Just across the Dulce Gulf from Matapalo, Pavones boasts some of the best surf in the country. During strong swells, you can ride the waves for up to three minutes at a time! Pavones is quite remote compared to other surf spots, but the conditions here make the trip well worth it. Pavones is a point break characterized by its awesome lefts, which are considered to be the second-longest in the world.
Located at the mouth of the Dulce Gulf, Matapalo is nestled at the southernmost tip of the Osa Peninsula. Conditions here can vary, ranging from mild to strong depending on the swells. Matapalo has three distinct breaks: Pan Dulce, Backwash Bay and the main break of Playa Matapalo. If you know the difference between a carve and a cutback, head straight to the main break - during swells, the waves here can be incredible, offering some great barrels and awesome rights.
Check out my Surfers Guide to Costa Rica for more surfing breaks in Costa Rica!
Surfing in Costa Rica
Learning to surf in Costa Rica
The best hiking trails on Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast