Costa Rica

Published on May 2nd, 2017 | by Ellen Zoe Golden


Surf’s Up! The Top 5 Best Surf Spots in Costa Rica

Ask any surfer around the world where they want to go, and surely Costa Rica will be on their bucket list. That’s because this little country, the size of West Virginia, been made famous thanks to appearances in surf films such as “Endless Summer II,” which highlight the most enticing places to paddle out and ride great waves. Professional international championships from the World Surf League have been staged here, and a couple of years ago the national team won the gold medal in the contest presented by the International Surf Association.

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Pros aside, free-surfing is very popular, accounting for many of the tourists who visit Costa Rica. From beginners looking for lessons and easy spots, to advanced surfers who can pull into barrels, Costa Rica has it all.

1. Tamarindo
Never surfed before? No worries. Head to the Pacific Northwest town of Tamarindo, where the large, shielded bay offers easy waves and plenty of whitewater to get your first taste of standing on a surfboard. The town also attracts those who know how to surf because it is close to at least five more challenging and fun breaks that include Playa Grande, the national park north of town that often has size when Tamarindo does not, and beautiful Avellanas and Playa Negra to the south. Avellanas offers a long beach break (and some reef and rivermouth) for beginners to advanced, while the rocky reef of Negra is best enjoyed by excellent surfers.

2. Witch’s Rock/Ollie’s Point
A short drive away, to either Flamingo, or Playas del Coco, you can catch a boat to what is arguably the most famous two surf spots in the country. Witch’s Rock, in Playa Naranjo, earned its name from the sound the Papagayo winds make upon hitting this geographical formation in the water, which then reforms the incoming waves into right and left A-frames. Ollie’s Point, known for its long, right-hand wave, is located near where Oliver North did his dubious activities in the ‘80s, thus the name.

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3. Hermosa and Jaco
These two areas are real beach towns in the Central Pacific. You can’t spit without hitting a surfer. Jaco, also in a bay, tends to host the beginners, while Hermosa, just five minutes south, is pretty challenging with its hollow beach breaks that fall off in each direction. From here, you can driver about 20 minutes to another beach break called Esterillos, or go further south, for a couple of hours to the rural down of Dominical, where the waves break even harder.

4. Pavones
Further south, this underdeveloped area is home to the world champion Noe Mar McGonagle, who has been riding the world’s second-longest wave since he was a child. Pavones is even further south, and getting there is a task for dedicated surfers as the trip is long and bumpy.

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5. Salsa Brava
The locals will tell you that Salsa Brava on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica is great practice for surfing the treacherous North Shore of Hawaii. These barrels are very quick and recommended for the best surfers. However, if you want an easier pace, check out nearby Playa Cocles.

These are just a small selection of spots where you can surf Costa Rica. After all, there’s over 800 miles of coast line, buffeted by both the Pacific and Caribbean water. However, if you give any of these 5 locations a try, you will have gotten a great taste of Costa Rica’s best waves.

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About the Author

Ellen Zoe Golden is a retired entertainment publicist from New York City, who has chosen the simple life as a travel agent for Costa Rica Vacations ( in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. She loves surfing, but is also partial to doing yoga, running, dining with friends, and binge-watching TV shows like Girls, Orange is the New Black, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and more.

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