Costa Rica Surfing Frequently Asked Questions | Tico Travel

Costa Rica Surfing FAQ | What You Need to Know Before Going

How to surf in Costa Rica | Tico Travel

Our best advice on the Costa Rica surf scene on where to surf, where stay and how to get there . Our traveling surf expert does just two things, SURF and answers the most frequently asked questions about surfing in Costa Rica! From choosing a surf camp to the fly famous fly and drive surf packages.  His name is Mike and he fell in love with Costa Rica in 1980 when he took his first surf trip there and discovered the unbelievable surf and friendly people. Since that time Mike surfed Costa Rica from east to west, north to south and everywhere in between.

He has lived and worked in Costa Rica in many different roles, from managing a beachfront hotel to running Surf Schools. Mike has been working as a Costa Rica Travel and Surf expert for over 15 years helping surfers plan their vacations and working as a surf guide.

Mike spent alot his time consulting for Costa Rica surf camps and has some of the best surfers assisting him to provide surf lessons for beginning surfers and Surf Guide service for the more Advanced Surfers.

Here is a list of questions that he has been asked in the past and this should be able to answer most questions about surfing in Costa Rica:

I just started surfing this year, wound up getting going with a 8’6″ board for the new jersey surf, worked out pretty well. i was out to the shore quite often this summer and have become moderately proficient, where would you recommend the best place for long boarding?

I would say probably the 3 best surf spots for the type of wave you are looking for would be either, Tamarindo, Mal Pais or Jaco. Tamarindo and Jaco are good and you also would have some good nightlife and restaurants ect. ( of the 2 Tamarindo would be more crowded). Mal Pais would be good and if you are looking for a very remote spot it would be a good choice.

Myself and several friends are heading down to stay in Playa Grande in late June. We are hoping to catch surf at Witches and Ollies and was wondering if there is typically surf there in June and finally are their pangas that run up their for the day opposed to expensive overnight trips?

I think you should be able to catch some surf at Ollies and Witches in June. And yes there are definitely pangas you can catch that will take you out for just the day. You can ask around in Playa Grande where to book a boat or just drive to Playa de Coco where lots of pangas heading to Ollies and Witches everyday.

Me and my dad are taking a trip to Playa Grande in early August and i was just wondering what the winds where like there that time of year?

The winds should be very light in Aug it is usually in the winter Months Jan-March when they get strong offshore winds “ Papagayo Winds”

I’m looking for “lefts”, preferably belly button high to a foot overhead. My wife, son (11), and I are looking for mid-range accommodations for 7-8 days around mid-March, while we all enjoy a bit of a family vacation as Surf-Papa gets a couple daily sessions in. Mid-March good Left opportunities in decent yet not posh surroundings in a nutshell.

There is a pretty good left right in front of town and a lot of other good surf breaks within an easy drive as well as a few spots you can get to by boat like Ollie’s point and Witches Rock Accommodations. You may want to check out these places in Tamarindo : Tamarindo Vista Villas, Tamarindo Diria or El Milagro although there are plenty of others in every conceivable price range.

I am a surfer from Florida taking a trip to the Hermosa area in May. Living in Florida I have never dealt with rocks, reefs or crocs. I am planning on taking some day trips to some other areas. How dangerous are these things & how do I avoid them. Also how deep are the rocks & reefs. Also how is the paddle out at Jaco? Hermosa & what kind of waves should I expect at the beginning of May.

The crocs are really not a problem it maybe a concern only at some of the bigger river mouths. And most spots you definitely want to ask about the bottom because the water is usually pretty dark and there can be some gnarly bottoms in some locations. Though most all of Jaco beach is all sand bottom. You will probably find waves in the chest to 2 foot over head range on most days. Hermosa can be a little bit heavier than Jaco for paddling out.

With not much time I’d like to find a great place to stay and surf some avg. size rights without much travel.I’ve gotten both ends of the spectrum from friends suggesting Tamarindo and Jaco. I’m a decent surfer and ride a 9’2″, but am open to renting or borrowing a smaller board for travel.

I usually lean towards the Jaco area lots of different breaks within an easy drive and best of all it is probably the most consistent area for surf in CR. I don’t think you need a surf camp you could just stay at any full service hotel you will have more freedom and privacy. Check out the hotels in Jaco to see what fits your needs best.

I am form Brazil, 45 years old, a longboard surfer that like to surf for pleasure. I would like to know the best places for longboard, but not crowed, during February.

I think that the Mal Pais area might be a good area to consider it is a nice mellow wave for long boarder and it is less crowded than most other areas in Costa Rica. One of the accommodations you can check out is Tropico Latino among others. Mal Pais area is about a 4 hour drive from San Jose the roads can be a little rough so you will want to drive during the day.

I’m an average surfer in my forties. In April I will be spending anear the Gulf of Papagayo. How easy can I get to some decent surf and where should I go? Is a car required? My perfect surf trip is getting the most surfing in without driving my wife crazy and having to travel too far or too much. What type of board do you recommend I bring or is there rental shops in that area that will rent a decent board?

I know what you mean, if the wifey is not happy no one will be happy. Unfortunately where you are going does not have surf at that beach. The closest beaches with surf would be the Tamarindo area about 45 minutes to an hour away each way or you could take a boat trip from Playa De Coco to Witches Rock or Ollies Point. If you have not already pre booked rooms you may want to consider staying in accommodations on a beach that has surf right behind the hotel like the Diria Hotel in Tamarindo.

Is Quepos a good place for beginner surfers? If not, where else would you recommend? When would be the best time to go meaning the least amount of people but still have regular waves? My boyfriend is definitely more advanced than I am so if he wanted to, would he have access to bigger waves? We also have dietary restrictions, vegetarian/chicken/seafood – no red meat or pork, that we’re hoping could be accommodated as well.

Glad to hear you have the surfing bug though your boss may not be so happy when you starting playing hooky to go surf…….;-)

Manuel Antonio is beautiful and a great place for beginners and there is a more advanced surf spots in the area as well. There are lots of accommodations to pick form 2 star to 5 star you can check out all the places that are there by going here: You may even want to check out the Playa Hermosa near Jaco .  There are a lot of bigger wave spots there for your boyfriend yet still some perfect spots for beginner surf lessons.

PS: No problem on the eating ,,,plenty of fresh fruits and veggies ,chicken and awesome seafood and you can even drink the water and not worry about getting Montezuma’s revenge

I am planning a trip for the 1st week of May and looking for some insight on where to go. I have surfed Nosara may times in the Spring and really enjoy the waves but not the 5 hour drive from San Jose. I am going with a bunch of novice surfers and am a little worried Hermosa will be too heavy for those guys. Would you recommend Nosara over the Hermosa area for novice surfers who usually ride longboards?

Generally speaking Yes Hermosa can be a little heavy at times but you do have alot of different spots to surf you could surf hermosa on good days or go to Jaco or even the far south end of hermosa ( it breaks further out not such a heavy beach break) also you guys could check out Boca Borranca or head down to Manuel Antonio for the day

I’ve been surfing over 30+ years, my fiancé is a beginner and I’ve never been to Costa Rica. I’m looking for a mellow longboard type wave where she won’t get worked and I can have fun also. Pointbreak, not too crowded etc…. Any suggestions on hotels and breaks?

I don’t know of any point breaks right off hand that would work for a beginner. Boca Borranca would be a very easy breaking wave but the water is very dark because of all the rivers and mangroves in the area and the bottom is kind of nasty river rock making getting out al little tricky for beginners. I have taken beginners there before and they had a hard time with it. And it is just not a very pretty area on CR to stay it is an old fishing town with not much to offer best to go there just for a day trip of surfing but not a great place to stay.

One of the most popular beaches for surf schools and camps for beginners is Jaco Beach at high tide it can be a very fun wave and break with a lot less power than some of the surrounding area breaks like Playa Hermosa and Escondido. Plus Jaco is probably one of the most consistent surf breaks in Costa Rica so you are sure to get surf and there are a lot of other breaks in the vicinity. Plus there are lots of other things to do if you guys are interested like National Parks, Horseback riding, canopy tours etc. And you could still drive up to Boca Borranca to give it a try it is about one hour drive North.

There are hotels in the Jaco area form 3 to 5 star the Jaco Beach Hotel is a 3-4 star hotel not fancy but very conveniently located on the beach with surf right behind the hotel.

I’m a beginner, but I can manage pretty well in up to 4′ (maybe 5′) waves. My questions are: Which area do you recommend? I’ve been thinking about going to Pavones. Is Pavones a good idea for me in these months? Are there smaller waves there when the swell is not on? And if it’s way too big for me, are there other smaller breaks I could surf at nearby? Which season should I avoid (for rains, etc.)?

Pavones is a great break but I think it might be a little too challenging for the beginner to intermediate level surfer it can get crowded and it is a very fast wave with a rock bottom plus in Aug and September is when they get there biggest waves. If I were you I would consider Manuel Antonio it is a beautiful beach and has a nice sand bottom and the surf tends to be much more conducive for perfecting your surfing skills. I think you will find the weather to be better in August than September it maybe a little more rainy.

 I am going to Costa Rica for the second time. Last August I was up by Playa Grande but this time we are staying at the Hotel Fiesta in Punterenas. I am wondering if we will be in a good area for surfing and how long the drive in from our hotel to other surf spots like playa hermosa? Could you also give a couple recommendations about some good surf breaks in our area?

There is very good wave behind the Hotel Fiesta called Boca Borranca a long left point. But I will warn you the area is not very pretty and the water is pretty dark due to all the nearby but it can be an awesome wave. It is about 1 hr plus ride to Hermosa and other breaks like Playa Jaco , Esterillos and Bejuco the surfers guide to Costa Rica also is a great guide if you need a handbook of breaks anther good place to stay that is all-inclusive is the Jaco Beach Best Western if you wanted to stay a couple of nights some where closer to other breaks.

I’m trying to plan a week trip for me and some friends and would like to know where we could find the best right breaks around Christmas time.

Most of the people would say the Tamarindo area. Time of year in Costa Rica is pretty consistent anywhere you decide to go I like the Central Pacific for he first trip and even the Caribbean side could be big at that time. But I suggest you book your trip ASAP that time will sell out fasttttttttttttt the Diria Hotel is good for the Tamarindo area or you can check our hotel section for other options in other areas of the country.

I’m wondering how long does it take to drive to Pavones from Quepos? Is it practical to plan a one week road trip all the way down the coast to Pavones and back?

Sure you could definitely get down to Pavones in back in a week and not be pushing it too much. The drive form Quepos is not nearly as bas as it once was at least once you get past Dominical the stretch between Quepos and Dominical along the coastal highway it still like a wash board but not dangerous. How are you getting to Quepos? A hopper flight would be great but you may have a problem getting your boards on especially if they are over 7ft long so I assume you are renting a car or getting a transfer.

I will be staying in Costa Rica near the Ocotal Beach. Where is the closest surfing? What level of surfing is it in December? I will need to rent a board.

The surf is generally in the chest to head high range and the closest spot for you to surf would be either Tamarindo or to take a boat trip to Witches and or Ollies point you could probably get a boat right from Ocotal.

I am heading to Costa Rica in the third week of December, and I´m planning on staying in the country for about three weeks. I´ve surfed a number of times (couldn´t tell you the size of waves I´m comfortable with-maybe 5-6ish feet?), and I was wondering where would be a good place to surf, with a chill atmosphere, or a good base for about two weeks? Thanks a bunch.

I think I would either go to Tamarindo in the NW Pacific or the Central Pacific in the Playa Hermosa area, either spot has plenty to do and lots of other surf spots you can surf in the area. Most people would probably say that the NW would probably be a little better for surf that time of year though both spots are really consistent.

How big is the surf at Playa Grande in May and how are the crowds?

Usually chest to head high. May should not be to bad most kids start coming in June and July

I want to take my son to CR on a surf trip in June for his high school graduation. He has been surfing about 5 years and I have been surfing 35+ years. I am looking for a quality trip good food good accommodations. I have heard bad things about CR getting crowded. Looking for left point breaks where I won’t have to scrap too much for waves.

The cool thing about Costa Rica is that it is so consistent and there are tons of different surf breaks. And like most places people tend to congregate to certain breaks and peaks and you can always find a peak to yourself if you look around a little. Most of the point breaks in Costa Rica are pretty well know and can be a little crowded at times especially in the Summer but noting like the crowds we see in most spots in the U.S. and the crowds tend to be very mellow because there are always lot more tourist than local and the locals are very friendly anyways.

You really can’t go wrong in the Central Pacific area of Costa Rica (Playa Jaco /Hermosa) there are lots of breaks within easy driving distance and some very nice places to stay. Or you could stay in Tamarindo as a base Camp in the NW pacific area and than drive to some of the local spots to get away form the Tamarindo crowds. The third option is Mal Pais it is probably the least crowded with lots of beach break up and down the coast.

 

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