Surfing in Playa Grande
Surfing in Playa Grande

One of the most common things that I see during my exploration of my home country, Costa Rica, is surfers. I see people from all over the world gathering on the beaches with their most valued possession – their surfboard. There are people that look like they came straight from California – with their long blonde hair and blue eyes – and people from all different races and cultures. I see males and females, adults and children. All of them descend upon Costa Rica with a common goal to find their perfect wave. While I do admire the beaches here, I usually do it from afar. Being a tree frog, I haven’t quite ventured out onto the sand, but maybe one day I’ll try my legs at surfing, which happens to be one of the most popular things to do for tourists, and locals, in Costa Rica!

Surfing at Playita in Manuel Antonio
Surfing at Playita in Manuel Antonio

1. When Surfers Should Visit Costa Rica

Costa Rica is blessed with great weather and an amazing ecosystem, but it only really has two season – the wet season or green and the dry season. Each surfer has their own personal preference about when to visit for their surfing adventure, but I have noticed that most surfers choose to come between the months of December and April. These months are the dry season, so the warm weather heats up the water and there is a slim chance of rain. One reason that surfers might choose to come to the waters during the months of May through November instead is because it will be less crowded. The dry season is the most popular time for tourists to visit, so the beaches are crowded with other surfers and with those just looking for a little fun in the sun. Surfers that don’t like to share their waves with others might be better off coming during the wet season to avoid the crowds.

Looking south at Playa Guiones - Nosara Beach
Looking south at Playa Guiones - Nosara Beach

2. Where Beginner Surfers Should Visit in Costa Rica

For those that are just getting their feet wet with surfing, Nosara is a great place to go. You can practice your skills in a casual atmosphere that is welcoming and perfect for beginners. The gentle coastal winds and consistent swells here make it a very popular spot for long-boarders.

Blown out surf in Santa Teresa
Blown out surf in Santa Teresa

3. Where Intermediate Surfers Should Visit in Costa Rica

For surfers just looking for the best waves year­-round, I hope I’ll see you in the tiny beach village of Playa Santa Teresa. I’ve heard from many of my surfing friends that this area is ideal for intermediate and expert surfers because of its miles of coastline, steep beaches, consistent off­-shore winds, and swells from almost all directions. The area neighbors Mal Pais, which is also a great spot for intermediate, or expert, surfers from all over the world. The waves in Playa Santa Teresa bring in waters from the Pacific, and their strength is sometimes moderate and sometimes strong. The waves are at their peak, and biggest, from May to December, but surfing here really is good year-­round. Visitors will discover that the communities nearby are laid-­back, friendly with plenty of short or long term accommodation options. There are also lots of surf shops right along the beach where visitors that didn’t haul their own board with them can rent a board and other gear for the day. Though the village is small, it has blossomed into a booming travel destination thanks to its world-­class surfing on white sand beaches.

Ollies Point Right Point Break Surf
Ollies Point Right Point Break Surf

4. Where Experienced Surfers Should Visit in Costa Rica

Those experts that are very serious about their surfing should definitely hop over to the North Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It’s no surprise that this area, including Playas del Coco, is one of the most popular places to surf in the country; it featuring miles of pristine beaches, crystal ­clear water, and some truly impressive waves. If you want to impress surfer from anywhere in the world, take your board to Playas del Coco and head to Witch’s Rock or Ollie’s Point – two spots that can visited and surfed all in a day’s work! The beaches of Playas del Coco are easy to access, thanks to the addition of roads into the area. As the area became popular, accommodations had to be made for all the visitors. Today, the area is accessible, and there are lots of hotels, casinos, restaurants, and shops open daily. The beaches and surfing here are top-­notch, but this is also an area that is very popular and crowded. If you’re into more social surfing, this is the place for you’ however, if you prefer to surf as solo as possible, you’ll want to head somewhere else.

Surfers walking back from great surf in Santa Teresa
Surfers walking back from great surf in Santa Teresa

The beaches offer amazing opportunities – besides just the great waves and tropical waters that are warm, you also get views of the surrounding hills, and easy access to close ­by islands where you can watch nature, like sharks and turtles, in their natural habitats. If the casual atmosphere of Santa Teresa sounded great, but the crowds didn’t, there is a place in Costa Rica where you can get the atmosphere without the crowds. Dominical is located on the Central Pacific coastline, and the waves and conditions here are challenging while the region is usually a little quieter than other resorts with similar swells and beaches. Here, the waves can reach as high as 10 feet, which is why this surfer’s paradise isn’t for the new people. The area is not as popular as other areas, but that doesn’t stop it from attracting some of the world’s best, and most passionate, surfers. There is enough tourism here that visitors can expect to have plenty of choices when it comes to accommodations and restaurants (especially seafood!). Those travelers that are a little bit more adventurous can take advantage of the consistently gorgeous year ­round weather and just sleep under the stars. The days are nice and warm, and the ocean breeze cools things down at night. Some surfers only need the waves and the stars to get by, and Costa Rica certainly offers those!

Surfing in Marbella
Surfing in Marbella