Known as a hub for international travelers and its vibrant nightlife scene, the once-sleepy coastal town of Jaco is equally famous for its surfing. The beach has spots that are particularly good for longboarders as well as beginners who want to take some surf lessons
Close to Jaco, Hermosa Beach is well-suited for intermediate to advanced surfers. The spot has hosted several tournaments including the famed Billabong World Surf Tournament. Hermosa is home to some of the most consistent surf in the country, offering about 350 days of head-high waves a year. Given strong currents, the miles of pristine black sand beach don’t attract the masses, making this stretch of coast a true Surfer’s Paradise.
Another pristine beach where you aren’t likely to have hordes of beachgoers, Playa Dominical on the South Pacific Coast is a popular surf destination. That’s because the spot has some of Costa Rica’s largest waves. With little development other than a tiny but welcoming beach town and a few oceanfront eateries, Playa Dominical offers a true tropical escape. Before gorgeous palm-lined sands, strong barrelling waves and a consistent medium-sized swell are best for more-advanced surfers. Less-experienced surfers can find suitable waves at nearby Playa Dominicalito, where they rarely rise above shoulder height.
Great for intermediate and beginner surfers, Tamarindo offers wonderful surfing with variety by a wide protected bay in Guanacaste. There are several varying breaks, including one by the mouth of a river which can see massive swells on the right day. Waves of different levels can be found across Tamarindo and a soft sandy bottom makes it great for lessons.
Another popular spot in Guanacaste, Playa Guiones has over four miles of unspoiled white sand that meet waves for just about any surfer. Paddle out to the big swells or stick close to shore for more manageable waves, the wide range of options has made this spot popular for surf schools.
Less-visited than the Pacific coast, the Caribbean side of Costa Rica also offers some great opportunities for surfing. Enjoy a laid-back vibe with the residents of the small seaside village of Puerto Viejo, many of whom are descendants of Jamaican migrants from the nineteenth century. Nearby you’ll find the intense “Salsa Brava,” translating more or less to “angry sauce” and known as the largest wave in Costa Rica. Breaking over a rugged reef that draws the waves under sea level, the surf can seem smaller from the beach than its actual monstrous size. For experienced surfers only, these legendary waters are only slightly less extreme than those at nearby Playa Cocles.
One of Costa Rica’s best-known surfing destinations, Witch’s Rock (or “Roca Bruja”) gets its name from a massive volcanic rock just offshore that local legend claims is cursed by a witch. Surfers see it as more of a blessing given that the world-class barrels offer intense wave riding. Not for beginners or even intermediate surfers, the expansive beach has a number of different breaks that each offers individual challenges.
Whether you wish to learn how to surf with beginner surf lessons or plan to hit epic swells like a seasoned pro, a world of Costa Rica surf awaits.