Puerto Viejo is a prime spot for Costa Rican surfers

Salsa Brava Surfer Barreled
Salsa Brava Surfer Barreled

Amateur and professional surfing enthusiasts from around the world flock to Costa Rica and they do so for good reason. Bordered by the Pacific on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other, this Central American country has just the right type of wave for novices and pros alike. If you're planning to surf in Costa Rica, you can't skip Puerto Viejo.

Where You’ll Find It

A coastal town, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is located in southeast Costa Rica's Limon province. It should be noted that a similarly named town, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, is in northeast Costa Rica and is known for white water rafting. If you're visiting the surfing town from another part of the country, it is important to double-check that you're on the right bus. Even if it labeled correctly, you may want to confirm with the driver.

The Two Peaks

Whether you're new to surfing or you were practically born on a wave, Puerto Viejo has plenty of spots to explore. Most surfers choose to hit the waves at one of two separate peaks. The first one is just south of town and is close to Salsa Brava. This spot is popular and often crowded during the day. If you are a less experienced surfer or simply prefer a quieter atmosphere to enjoy the water, the second peak is located just a bit north. It is less crowded during the day but still offers challenging launch points for surfers of all skill levels.

Legendary Surfing

While surfing is excellent throughout the town's beaches, many surfers visit Puerto Viejo for the sole purpose of riding the surf break known as Salsa Brava. In fact, it’s considered the most intense wave in Costa Rica. The area is known to have some of the best waves in Costa Rica. Less experienced surfers can check out some of the smaller breaks or simply watch the more experienced take on the powerful waves. Many international surfers enjoy Salsa Brave because its waves are consistently powerful. People who have ridden the waves describe it as a combination of Baby Backdoor and Laniakea, two popular surfing destinations in Oahu, Hawaii. The super-fast wave is known as a reef break and includes two peaks, lefts and rights and best to surf when it’s barreling. Because the wave is speedy and steep, it is only recommended for advanced surfers.

Other Places to Surf in Puerto Viejo

One of the main spots to surf in Puerto Viejo is Playa Cocles. Just a 15-minute walk from the center of town, this spot offers strong waves for intermediate and advanced surfers. Beginners can surf here with the help of an instructor. The current is strong, but there are lifeguards on duty. The clear water and surrounding jungle make for a gorgeous view as you ride the waves. The crowd at Playa Cocles is usually comprised of locals and experienced tourists and typically remains laid-back and spread out. The best time to check out the waves is at high tide.

Another popular surfing spot is Punta Uva. Just a 30-minute bike ride from Puerto Viejo, the beach offers a right reef break on clear waters surrounded by gorgeous scenery. If you are new to surfing, this beach is the perfect spot to gain experience. Its waves aren't so large that they become overwhelming but are still fun to surf.

Finally, be sure to check out Playa Grande. Just a bit further from the center of town than Punta Uva, this left-and-right wave is the choice for surfers when waves at Playa Cocles aren't good. The beach break has a lot of current but that makes it a fun wave for advanced surfers.

Whether you decide to try one break or all of them, be sure to practice safe surfing. If you are a beginner, take lessons from someone more experienced and always surf with a buddy. Besides, checking out all that Puerto Viejo offers is more fun when you’re with friends!