Surf in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has become one of the favorite international destinations for surfing due to its easy ocean access and variety of surf conditions. There are four different zones: the Caribbean coast, and the Northern, Southern, and Central Pacific coasts.

The Pacific coast has the most surfing areas. The majority of them are found in Guanacaste, in the northwest part of the country, but there are also excellent places in the central and southern areas, as well as the Caribbean.

Surf in Costa Rica by Carlos Mu帽oz

Northern Pacific

In this area there are three major beaches for surfing. One of them is Potrero Grande, which offers excellent waves and wind conditions for this type of sport.

To get there, you must take a boat from the Coco beaches (21miles or 35 km from Liberia). This area lacks services so you must bring your own food and water.

Photo by Damien Poullen There is also Negra Beach, which has hotels, cabins, and camping areas, as well as restaurants and bars. You can get there by arriving from the northeast, crossing La Amistad Bridge over the Tempisque River. It is also recommended to use a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Another important sector is Witch's Rock, located in the Santa Rosa National Park . Its fast waves with perfect tubes make it one of the favorites; however, keep in mind that toward the Naranjo River there might be crocodiles. It is accessible by land or sea; if going by land, a four-wheel drive must be used due to road conditions.

Other beaches recommended for this sport are: Naranjo Beach, Grande Beach, Tamarindo, Langosta Beach, Avellanas, Junquillal, and Nosara.

Central Pacific

The main focal point for surfers is Jac贸, which offers an enormous variety of hotels and lodging as well as restaurants, bars, entertainment centers, and shopping. It is also a good area for surfing.

Among the most recommended beaches in the Central Pacific are Escondida Beach and Boca Barranca. The latter is one of the favorites because of its long wave measuring around 3,117 ft (950 m).

Photo by Giuseppe RepetAnother noteworthy option is Hermosa Beach, which is known for having some of the most consistent waves in the world. This factor, and its proximity to Jac贸 (2.5 miles/4 km), led to its being chosen as the location for the 2009 World Surf Championship that brought together the best international surfers and attracted millions of spectators worldwide.

The beach runs some 5 miles (8 km) long and is excellent for surfing; however, visitors should take precautions due to the strong currents and waves.

Aside from these beaches, others that attract surf enthusiasts in this area include: Esterillos, Palo Seco, Roca Loca, Bejuco, Dominical, Damas Island, and Manuel Antonio, among others.

It is worth mentioning that in all these areas it is possible to find hotels, cabins, restaurants, and other facilities. In general, the bus system provides easy access.

Southern Pacific

Photo by Sergio PucciLocated some 12 miles (20 km) from Corcovado National Park is Cabo Matapalo, a beach that offers world-class waves. To get there, take a share taxi that departs from Puerto Jim茅nez everyday or an all- terrain vehicle due to the various river crossings.

Continuing along toward southern Golfito is Pavones Beach, which has one of the best waves in the world, running more than half a mile (1 km) long. Transportation is available by air or land.

If you continue along the highway that runs south, parallel to the coast, you will find Punta Banco, a series of beaches with left and right breakers for 2.5 miles (4 km), which makes it very popular among surfers, although it is not ideal for swimming. Simple lodging is available. Keep in mind that access is difficult, so it is recommended to use an all-terrain vehicle.

The Caribbean

Photo by Damien PoullenOne of the most frequented beaches by surfers is Puerto Viejo, also known as Salsa Brava due to its strong waves and huge tubes. Only experienced surfers should attempt this spot.

1.2 miles (2 km) away is Cocles, another beach with good waves as well as cabins that are popular among surfers. There are also lifeguard posts.

Bonita Beach and Uvita Island also possess world-class waves. However, these points are only accessible by boat.

If you are looking for something calmer, continue along to Manzanillo, where you will find a variety of lodging options and beaches suitable for surfing such as Punta Mora and Grande Manzanillo Beach.

Costa Rica, with its 908 miles (1,466 km) of coastline, has more areas for surfing than you can imagine. Along both coasts, there are almost always great conditions for surfing.

For your safety:

  • Before entering the waters, become familiar with beach characteristics like dangerous currents, weather conditions, waves, and type of ocean bed (sand or coral), etc.

  • Always remember to wear a leash in order to keep your board close to you, for your safety, as well as that of others.

  • Always be aware of ocean conditions since it is a dynamic environment that can change easily.

  • Never surf in areas that are beyond your skill level. There are certain beaches that are suitable only for experts due to their risk.

  • If you are a beginner, look for areas to surf where there are few people and avoid running into swimmers.

  • If there are other surfers in the area, respect their space.

  • If quick surf lessons are offered, make sure that the instructor is an expert; if it is a company, make sure it is certified.

  • Do not leave your belongings unattended on the beach.

  • Always use sunscreen to avoid burning.

  • Crocodiles can be found on some beaches. Ask a coastguard, Red Cross personnel, or locals if they can be found in the area.

Important: In order to verify that businesses are certified or affiliated with the ICT, visit:

Make sure that the business you choose has current work permits, liability insurance, and the necessary security measures, which are not the responsibility of the ICT.

The ICT does not assume any responsibility when a company's services are employed.

Tourism Companies Access | Privacy Policy
Instituto Costarricense de Turismo
Copyright ©2017 ICT CST Gobierno Digital Centroamerica