Costa Rica is home to some of the best waves on the planet. Surfers travel from all over the world to the country’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts in search of the perfect waves at beautiful beaches that are less crowded than in Hawaii or Australia.
Whether you just signed up for your first lesson or have been ripping since your days as a grom, there’s a wave waiting for you in Costa Rica. Here’s a quick guide to finding Costa Rica’s best surf spots:
Located in the surf mecca town of the same name in the northern province of Guanacaste, this diverse beach break has something for everyone, including beginners. Depending on the daily conditions at Playa Tamarindo, you can find good rights, lefts, and fast barrels.
Roca Bruja, or Witch’s Rock is one of the best surf spots in Costa Rica, and became widely known after being featured in the movie Endless Summer II. This world-class surf spot, for advanced surfers, is in Santa Rosa National Park, which makes it more difficult to get to, but also means it’s less crowded.
There are no hotels or restaurants (or fresh drinking water) in the area and you need to cross rocky terrain in a 4×4 or hop on a boat in order to get there. Making the trek to Witch’s Rock is definitely worth it and your reward will be clean right and left breaks with offshore winds from December through April.
Mal País, located at the southwestern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, in the central Pacific region of Costa Rica, is a good spot for beginning surfers. Sandbars at Mal País create nice lefts and long rights.
For those new to the sport, surfing over sand (instead of reef) is a welcome advantage when you inevitably wipe out once or twice. Experienced surfers can also find more challenging waves nearby at Santa Teresa or Playa Carmen.
Mal País is a small community with world-class waves, which means you can enjoy the pristine beaches, undistracted, year-round.
Pavones is on the southern Pacific coast on the interior of the Golfo Dulce. Pavones is one of the best surf spots in Costa Rica and is known for its epic left break. It is one of the longest lefts in the world, measuring in at over half a mile.
You can ride this wave for over two minutes as pro-surfer Robby Naish did a few years ago. The best time to visit is April through November when the southern swells hit more frequently. If you start doing squats now, your legs will be ready to pump at Pavones in no time.
Salsa Brava, on the Caribbean coast, is a well-known spot that breaks right and has earned the nickname “Costa Rican Pipeline” because of its powerful and heavy barrels that mimic the original Pipeline on Hawaii’s north shore.
Experienced surfers will have to navigate a narrow channel through the shallow reef in order to surf this spot. Salsa Brava breaks best from January through March.