Stretching 200 kilometers along Costa Rica's northern Pacific coast
is a surfing hotspot. The beaches are blessed with a tropical climate, and the breakers are no stranger to beginner and expert shredders. Whether you're looking for a remote getaway or a crowd favorite, this area has truly top-tier waves. Dive into the best spots to surf in this region:
Map of Guanacaste
Locals will tell you Tamarindo
is a surf zoo. Packing beachfront hotels, a hip nightlife and a variety of waves, this beach is hailed as a one of the best surf destinations on the country's northern pacific coast. The real reason for this title, though, is its central location, which makes for an excellent jumping-off point to get to Witch's Rock
in the north and Playa Negra
to the south. If you don't mind the crowds, the 2-kilometer stretch of brownish shoreline offers wondrous breakers. Consistent rides keep both Ticos and travelers coming back throughout the year.
With hollow sand bottom breaks along a 3 kilometer beach, Witches Rock is another great destination for catching knockout waves. Strong offshore winds fly in between December and March, creating long lefts and rights. Witches Rock is in the Santa Rosa National Park and by law there are no hotels within the park. So, if you're serious about surfing spend the time and extra money to take a boat trip here.
As a top spot in Costa Rica, Playa Negra
offers ideal right-hand barrels with a rocky bottom. The break has become famous worldwide since its appearance in the movie Endless Summer II. Because of its good exposure to swells from both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, the waves roll in consistently year-round. Playa Negra provides a much more remote experience than neighboring Tamarindo. Expert riders find the best challenge with the overhead breakers here.
Recently emerging from its status as a hidden gem, Playa Junquillal
has become a main drag for progressive surfers. Paddle out during high tide for mid-size swells that attract novices and experienced surfers alike. The only drawback is its limited parking, a frequent complaint from local surfers. It is recommended that you get there early to find a spot. Situated at the southern end of Playa Junquillal is another bright spot for surfing called Sketchy's. Bringing in big swells off the rocks in front of the old Hotel Antumallal, this point is not for the faint of heart.
If you're looking for a family beach, Avellana is right for you. White sand and day-long breakers come with the package. Because of the reef and giant swells, this playa has earned the nickname "Little Hawaii." You might even meet "Lolita," a 400-kilogram pig and local celebrity who bathes in the Costa Rican sun throughout the day. Toward the river mouth you can find a little swell that is worth the walk. Playa Avellana caters to intermediate and expert riders, with the best waves rolling in during low tide.