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Best Surfing Spots in Costa Rica

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For decades, surf enthusiasts have been venturing to Costa Rica in search of world-class waves. With a seemingly endless list of incredible beach destinations offering some of the best surfing in the world, you may need some help planning stops for your next surf trip. Here is our list of the best surf sites in Costa Rica, highlighting a variety of beach vibes and skill levels.

PAVONES

One of the only destinations in Costa Rica purely dedicated to surf, this remote town is a real haven for an authentic Costa Rica surf trip. You won’t find many other tourists here—just surfers dreaming of the same paradise.

  • Location: South, near Golfito; 8–9 hours from San Jose
  • Best time to visit: March and April
  • Surf level: Intermediate/ advanced
  • Wave size: Up to 12 feet high, 400–900 meters long
  • Surf break: Point (left, one of the longest in the world)
  • General weather: Sunny, with afternoon thunderstorms
  • Crowd level: Busy

PLAYA GUIONES

Costa Rica is considered one of the best places to surf
Surfing waves in Costa Rica are suited for beginners to advanced.

Perhaps the most ideal Costa Rica surf destination, Playa Guiones sports consistent rolling waves perfect for surf connoisseurs and first-timers alike. Surf enthusiasts who visit the Nicoya Peninsula always head first to this secret surf paradise.

  • Location: Nicoya Peninsula, 2.5 hours south of Liberia
  • Best time to visit: November to April
  • Surf level: Beginner/ intermediate/ advanced
  • Wave size: Up to 12 feet high, up to 300 meters long
  • Surf break: Beach
  • General weather: Consistently warm and pleasant during peak season
  • Crowd level: Rarely crowded

WITCH’S ROCK

Surf here amidst a backdrop of an iconic massive rock formation jutting from the sea. This sandy bottom beach break is well-known for offering consistent waves year-round.

  • Location: North, Playa Naranjo near Tamarindo
  • Best time to visit: December through March
  • Surf level: Intermediate/ advanced
  • Wave size: 4–8 feet
  • Surf break: Beach (right and left)
  • General weather: Dry and sunny
  • Crowd level: Busy

PLAYA JACO

Playa Jaco is the closest beach to San Jose to surf in Costa Rica
Playa Jaco has a lively nightlife, amazing food and great beaches to surf in.

Being the closest beach to Costa Rica’s capital, San José, Playa Jaco is a booming destination for a variety of tourism activities. The sunsets are nice, the parties are big, and the beach offers a good variety of waves for surfers of any skill level.

  • Location: Jaco, Pacific Coast, 1.5 hours from San José
  • Best time to visit: June to August, January to March
  • Surf level: Beginners/ intermediate/ advanced
  • Wave size: 6–7 feet high, Up to 300 meters long
  • Surf break: Beach (right and left)
  • General weather: Hot, with wet season during May to November and dry season during December to April
  • Crowd level: Busy on weekends

PLAYA HERMOSA DE JACO

Not to be confused with Playa Hermosa de Dominical, this beach just outside of Jaco is highly regarded as one of the best of Costa Rica’s surf spots. Home to the annual International Quicksilver Surf Championships, it offers a strong break and high waves that attract international attention. The waves here can be ferocious and should not be attempted by beginners.

  • Location: 5 km south of Jaco in Puntarenas
  • Best time to visit: April to November
  • Surf level: Intermediate/ advanced
  • Wave size: Up to 13 feet
  • Surf break: Beach (right and left)
  • General weather: Hot, with wet season during May to November and dry season during December to April
  • Crowd level: Busy June to August and on weekends

MALPAIS

Malpais is a good place to catch constant waves for surfing in Costa Rica
A surfer attempting to surf a barrel wave.

Enjoy gorgeous beaches and excellent waves with fewer crowds in this small laid-back town. With more than 20 breaks, Malpais offers a good variety of options perfect for learning or for rising to a challenge.

  • Location: Nicoya Peninsula
  • Best time to visit: December to April
  • Surf level: Beginners/ intermediate/ advanced
  • Wave size: 5–10 feet
  • Surf break: Beach (right and left)
  • General weather: Hot, with wet season during May to November and dry season during December to April
  • Crowd level: Secluded

PLAYA TAMARINDO

At Tamarindo Beach, you can surf, do kayaking, windsurfing or ATV riding
Tamarindo Beach is a mix of surfer's paradise, vibrant nightlife and every outdoor enthusiasts ideal vacation spot.

With varied breaks and a well-developed town supporting tourism, many surfers consider this beach to be Costa Rica’s surf mecca. A typical day here includes surfing throughout the day, eating fantastic food, then partying the night away. Many surf camps base out of Tamarindo.

  • Location: Guanacaste, 1.5 hours from Liberia
  • Best time to visit: Late May to August
  • Surf level: Beginner/ intermediate/ advanced
  • Wave size: 3–7 feet
  • Surf break: beach, river-mouth, and reef
  • General weather: Warm and sunny, but heavy raining in September and October
  • Crowd level: Busy

PLAYA AVELLANAS

Several breaks line this picturesque shore, but it is famous for its powerful barreling wave, lovingly referred to as “Little Hawaii.” Big swells here offer some of the best surfing in Costa Rica for all levels.

  • Location: Guanacaste, south of Tamarindo
  • Best time to visit: Year round, depending on preferred break
  • Surf level: Beginner/ intermediate/ advanced
  • Wave size: Up to 18 feet
  • Surf Break: Beach and river-mouth (left and right)
  • General weather: Pleasant year round
  • Crowd level: Rarely crowded

PUERTO VIEJO

Puerto Viejo, a haven for surfers
Puerto Viejo is a popular destination known for barreling waves.

Puerto Viejo has been a famed surf destination for years and its notorious barreling wave, Salsa Brava, is famed as the biggest and most powerful in Costa Rica. Here, you’ll need some expert grip, but other breaks nearby offer good surf for beginners too.

  • Location: Caribbean Coast, 2.5 hours south of Limón
  • Best time to visit: March to December
  • Surf level: Beginner/ intermediate/ advanced
  • Wave size: Up to 16 feet
  • Surf break: Reef (right and left)
  • General weather: Hot with brief showers most days
  • Crowd level: Moderate, but busy on weekends

PLAYA DOMINICAL

Dominical beach in Costa Rica
Playa Dominical is a good spot to surf the waves or to simply enjoy the serene beach.

One of the best surf spots in Costa Rica known for its consistent waves, Playa Dominical offers excellent surf in one of the least developed regions of the country. Surf one of the country’s most challenging waves or relax under a palm in this authentic Costa Rican paradise.

  • Location: South Pacific coast, 5 hours from San José
  • Best time to visit: December to April
  • Surf level: Advanced
  • Wave size: Over 10 feet
  • Surf break: Beach (right and left)
  • General weather: Mostly sunny
  • Crowd level: Secluded

PLAYA SANTA TERESA

Attracting tourists of many types, Playa Santa Teresa is a popular surf destination for intermediate and expert surfers. Hollow waves at low tide are fast and swift and surf is steady throughout the year.

  • Location: Nicoya Peninsula
  • Best time to visit: December to April
  • Surf level: Intermediate/ advanced
  • Wave size: 6 feet
  • Surf break: Beach and point (right and left)
  • General weather: Hot with rainy and dry seasons
  • Crowd level: Rarely crowded

PLAYA SAMARA

Playa Samara has soft waves perfect for novice surfing in Costa Rica
Smooth, constant waves are perfect for beginner surfers or children.

A paradise for watersport enthusiasts of all sorts, surfing is just one of the delights that visitors to Playa Samara can enjoy. In comparison to many of the surf destinations in Costa Rica, the waves here are soft and smooth, providing a perfect spot for novice and children to learn. Intermediate surfers will enjoy the fun too!

  • Location: Nicoya Peninsula
  • Best time to visit: December to April
  • Surf level: Beginner/ intermediate/ advanced
  • Wave size: 5 ft
  • Surf break: Beach and reef (right and left)
  • General weather: Hot, with wet season during May to November and dry season during December to April
  • Crowd level: Secluded

Whether you’re seeking out your first waves or are daring to attempt some of the world's’ most challenging waves, the best surf spots in Costa Rica will thrill you. With these destinations in mind, planning your surf trip will certainly make for a swell time!

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