Surfing in Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is home to more than 300 sandy beaches, warm water, and some of the best surf breaks in the world—making surfing in Costa Rica one of the top activities to enjoy during your tropical beach vacation! Whether you’re staying on the Pacific Coast or the Caribbean Coast, there are plenty of Costa Rica surf spots to explore for both beginner and advanced surfers.

Discover the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica below, so you can begin planning your trip to one of the top surfing destinations in Central America!


North Pacific Coast

Costa Rica’s North Pacific Coast is the country’s most visited location and includes popular destinations like the Guanacaste Province and the Nicoya Peninsula. The North Pacific Coast is one of the best surfing locations in Costa Rica for beginners. There are lots of surfing schools where you can learn the basics of surfing, and generally speaking, this area of the country enjoys calmer waves.

The North Pacific Coast receives consistent swells and features tons of beach breaks, making it a great spot to surf year-round. However, you’ll find the best surfing conditions between May and November.

Playa Grande

Skill Level: All

Playa Grande, located just north of Tamarindo, a popular tourist destination, is a great destination to surf in Costa Rica. If you’re a beginner, you can take surf lessons at one of the many surf camps in the area, like Mojo Surf Adventures. However, intermediate and advanced surfers will be able to experience great beach breaks here that create plenty of barrels.

Playa Grande Surfing in Costa Rica

Playa Grande is easily accessible from our properties in Playa Flamingo and Playas del Coco, so if you plan to stay with us, we recommend checking out this Costa Rica surfing spot.

Playa Tamarindo

Skill Level: All

Playa Tamarindo is one of the best-known surfing spots in Costa Rica. It’s another great surfing location for all skill levels, but the waves are best for beginners from mid-tide to high-tide from December to April. Intermediate surfers may prefer surfing at Playa Tamarindo starting in May through November.

Playa Tamarindo Surfing in Costa Rica

Tamarindo is a popular tourist destination with restaurants, shops, and nightlife surrounding the beaches, so you should expect a crowd, especially if you’re surfing during the dry season. However, with tons of surf camps offering surf lessons, like Witch’s Rock Surf Camp, it’s a great place to learn how to surf, which is why it attracts so many tourists.

While at Playa Tamarindo, check out the Tamarindo River Mouth break—one of the best surf breaks in Costa Rica for intermediate surfers.

Playa Avellanas

Skill Level: Intermediate

Playa Avellanas is one of the least visited beaches in Costa Rica—but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to find some incredible waves! This beach is located just south of Tamarindo, and there aren’t many accommodations in the area, so you’ll likely need to drive if you’d like to catch some waves on this gorgeous beach.

Playa Avellanas Surfing in Costa Rica

Playa Avellanas is best-known for a point break called “Little Hawaii” at the north end of the beach, just past the river mouth. Little Hawaii is one of the most challenging waves in Costa Rica, so only experienced surfers should attempt this left-hand reef break at low tide.

Playa Avellanas also has its fair share of river mouths, like Playa Avellanas River Mouth, where you can find some additional challenging surf breaks.


Skill Level: All

Nosara is a famous surf town in Costa Rica known for two things: yoga and surfing. If you’re interested in health and wellness and want to learn how to surf while you’re in Costa Rica, this is the perfect spot for you to explore!

Surfing in Nosara Costa Rica
Playa Guiones is the main beach break for surfing in Nosara. It has shallow waters and a sandy floor, so it’s great for all skill levels, especially beginners.
Santa Rosa National Park

Skill Level: Difficult

If you’re looking for a location with world-class waves for skilled surfers, look no further than the remote point breaks accessed through Santa Rosa National Park.

Santa Rosa National Park Surfing
Witch’s Rock is one of the top surf spots in Costa Rica and can only be reached by taking a boat from the coast. This volcanic rock that rises out of the ocean creates some of the country’s best barrels and tubes! Ollie’s Point is another excellent surf break not too far from Witch’s Rock. It’s known for its fast, hollow waves and tall, green walls, and it should only be attempted by experienced surfers.

Central Pacific Coast

Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast offers some of the country’s most accessible surf breaks since this region is just a short drive away from San Jose—the capital city.

Many of the best surf spots on the Central Pacific Coast are located near surfing towns, teeming with nightlife, dining, and shopping, so you’ll be able to stay busy when you’re not riding the waves. The best months for experienced surfers to visit this region are May to November, but December to April are still great times for surfing, especially for beginners.

Santa Teresa

Skill Level: All

Filled with world-class surf breaks for all skill levels, Santa Teresa is one of the top places to surf in Costa Rica. While this lively beach town is located in the Puntarenas Province, it’s situated at the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, so it’s not far from the North Pacific Coast.

Santa Teresa Costa Rica

Santa Teresa is well-known for its consistent surf, which is equally impressive in the dry and green seasons! Playa Hermosa is one of the top beach breaks in Santa Teresa and experiences consistently strong waves year-round. Playa Hermosa is actually the location of the Quicksilver Championship—an international surfing competition hosted each August. The waves here are best enjoyed between April and November.

Playa Santa Teresa is one of the top surf spots in Santa Teresa for advanced surfers. If you’re looking for a point break or beach break with fast waves, visit this popular spot at low tide. On the other hand, Playa Carmen, located just south, is a better spot for beginners.

Playa Mal Pais is located south of the beaches listed above. It’s filled with fabulous beach breaks and big swells. It’s also lesser-known than the beaches listed above, so it’s a great spot to visit if you’re looking for a quieter surfing destination in Costa Rica’s Central Pacific region.

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Jaco Beach

Skill Level: All

Jaco is the destination for surfing in Costa Rica and is arguably the country’s party capital too. Since the drive to Jaco is just under two hours from San Jose, it’s easy to reach, and there are plenty of restaurants, nightclubs, and accommodations in this beach town, making it a desirable place to stay.

Jaco Beach

Playa Jaco is a great place to surf in Costa Rica because it truly caters to all skill levels. Beginners can enjoy calm waves that are easy to navigate at low tide, but experienced surfers will love the larger swells at high tide. Though Jaco Beach is the main beach for surfing in Jaco, experienced surfers may also enjoy the powerful beach break at Playa Hermosa, a black-sand beach located just south of Playa Jaco. 

Manuel Antonio National Park

Skill Level: Beginner

Manuel Antonio is one of the most visited national parks in Costa Rica because of its gorgeous beaches, turquoise waters, and diverse wildlife. Manuel Antonio may not be one of the most well-known surf spots in Costa Rica, but there are still tons of beaches here that are great for beginners!

Manuel Antonio National Park Surfing

Playa Manuel Antonio is a popular surfing spot at the national park’s center, with calm, gentle waves that are perfect for beginners. Playa Espadilla, located at the park’s northern end, is another excellent Costa Rica surf spot. The southern part of this beach is a great place for beginner surfers at high tide, and the northern part offers more powerful waves for experienced riders. Playa El Ray, located at the park’s southern end, is another great place to surf for all skill levels.


South Pacific Coast

Costa Rica’s South Pacific Coast is slightly more difficult to reach than the north or central parts of the country, so it’s less frequently visited. However, the lush rainforests and beautiful beaches found on the South Pacific side make it absolutely worth the visit.

Although you’ll experience plenty of rain, the months of May through November are the best for surfing in this region of the country. Here are a few of the top surf spots you’ll find here:

Playa Dominical

Skill Level: All

Despite the fact you can find some of the biggest and fastest waves in Costa Rica at Playa Dominical, this long stretch of beach offers something for all skill levels. Tourists don’t frequent this stunning beach, so you may be able to enjoy the waves to yourself!

Playa Dominical Surfing in Costa Rica

There are two popular surf breaks at Playa Dominical—Bar River and Dominicalito. Bar River is a river mouth that offers bigger waves well-suited for experienced surfers. Dominicalito, on the other hand, is a smaller beach break that’s a better place to surf in Costa Rica for beginners.

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Costa Rica Vacation
Ready to experience the beauty and adventure of Costa Rica? Book your vacation now and discover all that this stunning destination has to offer!
Playa Pavones

Skill Level: Difficult

If you’re looking for a Costa Rica surf spot that’s really off the beaten path, you shouldn’t miss the chance to check out Playa Pavones in the Osa Peninsula. Since this beach is nearly a ten-hour drive from the nearest airport, you won’t find many tourists here, so it’s a great place for avid surfers to escape the hustle and bustle found in many other Costa Rican surfing towns.

Playa Pavones Surfing in Costa Rica

Playa Pavones is considered to have one of the world’s longest left breaks. When the southwest swell pushes into the Golfo Dulce from the Pacific Ocean and collides with a rocky point, it creates a ride nearly 1,000 yards long. Needless to say, this ride should only be attempted by experienced or advanced surfers. While you’re here, don’t miss the chance to look for some sea life in the Golfo Dulce, like whales and sea turtles.


Caribbean Coast

Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast is undoubtedly one of the top places to surf in Costa Rica, despite the fact it offers fewer waves than the Pacific Coast. Most of the surfing on this side of the country is concentrated on the southern half of the coast. Surfing on the Caribbean Coast tends to be more challenging, and it’s home to the country’s largest wave—Salsa Brava.

The Caribbean Coast’s waves come from tropical storms off the coast of Mexico. Unlike the Pacific side of the country, which experiences the best surfing conditions between May to November, this coast enjoys the best surfing conditions from December to March.

Puerto Viejo

Skill Level: Difficult

Puerto Viejo is home to tons of coral reefs, which is why it’s also the location of the largest wave in the country—Salsa Brava. This reef break produces a huge right-hand barrel wave that dozens of surfers can ride simultaneously. Salsa Brava tends to have enormous barrels between January and March.

Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica

However, it’s important to note that Salsa Brava, while the biggest wave in Costa Rica, is also the most dangerous. You should only attempt to ride this wave if you are a professional surfer or a surfer with years of experience. The coral reef is sharp and can seriously injure those who aren’t prepared for the intensity of its waves.

Playa Cocles is a lively seaside village just south of Puerto Viejo that also offers great surfing opportunities. Compared to Salsa Brava, Playa Cocles is a much better location for beginners due to the swell the beach receives year-round.


Skill Level: Intermediate

Cahuita is located just south of Limón, the largest city on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast. Cahuita National Park is known for having the largest coral reef in Costa Rica, so this area experiences many reef breaks, like the waves you would find in Hawaii, and some great beach breaks, too.

Cahuita Surfing in Costa Rica

Playa Negra is one of the top surf spots in Cahuita and is best enjoyed during the dry season, from December to April. However, this spot can get busy with locals from Limón during the best surfing season, so don’t be surprised if you find large crowds at this spot.


Catch Some Waves at the Best Spots for Surfing in Costa Rica

As you can see, finding great places to surf in Costa Rica isn’t challenging. You may even feel overwhelmed by the wide variety of excellent Costa Rica surf spots to choose from!

To make your decision easier, we recommend selecting the perfect place to stay, then finding the best surfing breaks near your accommodations. Our beautiful vacation rentals near Playa Flamingo and Playas del Coco in the Guanacaste Province are near some of the best surfing destinations in Costa Rica, like Playa Grande and Playa Tamarindo. When you stay with Special Places of Costa Rica, you won’t have to travel far to enjoy some of the country’s most exhilarating waves.

Surf’s up! See you in the water during your adventurous vacation to Costa Rica.


Choose Your Next Adventure

Costa Rica is the perfect opportunity for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike to explore the beauty and diversity of this tropical paradise. From white sandy beaches to lush rainforests, Costa Rica is home to a wide range of breathtaking landscapes and activities. Whether you want to zipline through the canopy, surf the waves, or relax in a luxury eco-lodge, there is something for everyone in Costa Rica.

Other Attractions

After you have visited volcanoes and national parks you may want to observe (or cool off in) some of the many beautiful waterfalls while in Costa Rica. Be sure to view our full list of things to do in Costa Rica to ensure you’re experiencing all of the main attractions while on your vacation.


Frequently Asked Questions About
Surfing in Costa Rica

The best Costa Rica surf spots to accommodate all skill levels can be found on the northern and central parts of the Pacific Coast. You will also be able to enjoy popular beach towns with plenty of shopping, dining, and nightlife, such as Jaco and Tamarindo, when you’re not riding the waves.

However, if you’re looking for the most challenging Costa Rica surfing locations, you’ll need to head to the Caribbean Coast, where you will find Salsa Brava, the largest (and most dangerous) wave you can ride in Costa Rica.

The best time of year to surf in Costa Rica depends on the side of the country where you’re surfing.

The Pacific side has better surfing conditions during the green season, from May to November, while the Caribbean side usually experiences the best waves during the dry season, from December to April.

Generally speaking, Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast is best for surfing. There are more beaches to explore and plenty of surf spots for all skill levels. The Pacific Coast also has waves year-round, so you can always count on surfing, no matter what time of the year you visit.

However, Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast is home to the largest wave in the country, Salsa Brava, and may be considered a better surfing location for more advanced surfers.

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