A Guide to Surfing in Costa Rica
You might have heard that Costa Rica is a wildlife paradise. We are home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity, but that isn’t the only wild experience you might have while visiting Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is home to the wildest waves. Due to its location in the middle of both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, it is the perfect destination for surfers worldwide. If you want to know a little more about surfing in Costa Rica, we are here to give you our 101 surf guide, including what to expect while surfing and the best surf spots in Costa Rica.
What is Surfing Like in Costa Rica?
From experts to complete newbies, surfing culture is found in most coastal towns in Costa Rica. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find boards all over the beach area with contact information for surf lessons.
Thanks to Costa Rica’s spot near the equator, you will find consistent waves all year round. This means you will be able to find the perfect surf spot for any month of the year. Both beginners and expert surfers can take advantage of Costa Rica’s rainy season to visit the Pacific shore. Here, you will find a wide variety of waves (both in size and force). These are, however, smaller compared to the Caribbean coast. During the summer, visiting the Caribbean side of Costa Rica will guarantee you fun peaks and the perfect weather to start surfing.
Is Surfing Safe in Costa Rica?
Not only is Costa Rica a safe place to practice surfing, but it is also a hub for multiple surfing camps and both local and international competitions. So, you can rest assured this is not a dangerous country to practice the sport.
However, there are always precautions you should take when practicing an extreme sport or just going into the open sea. Remember always to follow the lifeguards’ recommendations and avoid surfing during heavy weather. Things like proper technique, etiquette, and gear are also some of the aspects you should consider when getting ready to have a safe and enjoyable time while surfing in Costa Rica.
You also need to be safe outside the waves. This includes being mindful about where you place your personal belongings and, in case you are a beginner surfer, having a spotter on the beach that can watch over you.
Where to Find the Best Surfing in Costa Rica?
When you have two sides to choose from, there are plenty of shores you can visit to experience the best surfing in Costa Rica.
Best Spots for Surfing in Costa Rica
When looking for the best spots for surfing in Costa Rica, you should consider which side of Costa Rica you are visiting.
If you are visiting the Pacific coast, you should go to:
- Espadilla, Manuel Antonio (great for beginners)
- Dominical, South Pacific Coast
- Cabo Matapalo, Osa Peninsula (great for beginners)
If you are visiting the Caribbean coast, you should go to:
- Playa Negra, Limón (great for beginners and intermediate surfers)
- Playa Cocles, Limón (advanced surfers)
- El Barco, Limón
Best Surf Towns in Costa Rica
Surf culture is huge on the seasides of Costa Rica, and it is common to find different towns that embrace surfing as part of their daily language and essence. Here are some of the best surf towns in Costa Rica:
- Jacó, Puntarenas: Famous for being a tourist hub and a must-visit town for first-time visitors. Only two hours away from San José, Jacó is a town filled with all your city comforts and carefree beach-style shenanigans.
- Tamarindo, Guanacaste: Renowned for its strong surf, this formerly quiet fishing village has become a great spot for surfers to gather and share life and surfing experiences. It’s a great place for intermediate surfers to become advanced surfers.
- Puerto Viejo, Limón: This town is as colorful as it gets. Filled with music, great food, and great waves, Puerto Viejo is a neighbor to many surfing hot spots, making it the best place for social interaction with locals and tourists before visiting more surf-focused beaches nearby.
- Santa Teresa, Puntarenas: This secluded beach spot might be the perfect getaway for some fun nights and good tides. In fact, you shouldn’t be surprised to find a celebrity or two in the Santa Teresa area since it is one of the hottest towns in Costa Rica right now.
Best Family Surfing in Costa Rica
If you are traveling with your family, then it’s best to visit these family-friendly surf beaches in Costa Rica:
- Playa Guiones, Nosara: With peaks perfect for all surfing levels, Playa Guiones also offers various activities for all members of the family. Restaurants, escape rooms, horseback ridings, and surf lessons are some of the activities you will find while visiting Playa Guiones.
- Manuel Antonio, Quepos: As we mentioned before, Manuel Antonio has great beaches for beginners to start surfing. While visiting Manuel Antonio, you can also go to the National Park Manuel Antonio and see wildlife as you have never seen before.
It is also very important to remember that while some beaches might seem family-friendly, they are not necessarily family surfing friendly. Playa Hermosa is a great spot for advanced surfers. However, even if it’s mentioned in many places as a great destination, it is not great for families to spend the day due to its tendency for aggressive waves and tides.
What to Wear for Surfing in Costa Rica?
One of the most frequently asked questions about gear for surfing in Costa Rica is: Should I use a wetsuit?
Although a wetsuit is incredibly recommended, if you are a beginner or even just a very casual surfer, there is no need to invest in buying your own wetsuit. If you are using a long-sleeved swimming shirt to protect your skin, you are good to go! If your instructor or surf camp offers a rental wetsuit, all you need to wear underneath is a comfortable bathing suit.
Do I Need My Own Equipment?
Nope! Again, most surf camps or instructors also offer board rentals for tourists and locals. They will instruct you on which board size you should pick and how to take care of the board, as well. However, you are also welcome to bring your own equipment.
Surfing is an experience everyone should try while visiting Costa Rica. Not only will it challenge you physically, but it will change the way you enjoy spending time in the ocean. And, though it will take a while for you to master the wave tubes and the board spin tricks, we are positive you will rejoice the first time you manage to stand up on the board. Gear up and enjoy the waves!