1 - Manzanillo A very fast beach break located 20 km from Puerto Viejo, Limon. Here you find rustic lodging and typical food. Located close to an unpaved road, and easy to get to.
2 - Puerto Viejo A very thick and voluminous wave that comes from deep water onto a shallow reef, also called "salsa", for its juice power. This place gets very big and tubular (legitimate big wave). Salsa is approximately a 3-1/2 hour drive from San Jose and there is a restaurant and accommodation close to the point.
Puerto Viejo has certainly most known for being home to what has been called the heaviest wave in Costa Rica: SALSA BRAVA. Salsa, although fickle, has definitely earned this reputation offering a thick "sauce" breaking over a shallow reef. The wave is very competitive and certainly, for experts only. More intermediate surfers can check out the beach break just south at Playa Cocles. The Caribbean coast is quite different than the Pacific as you will find it is not as nearly built up and the culture/atmosphere is even more laid back than other parts of Costa Rica.
Puerto Viejo is an ideal location for laid back surfers and travelers looking to avoid the more commercialized Pacific coast. This Carribbean getaway is home to reggae music, "smoking" nightlife and an overall, unique experience for surfers, backpackers and "eco" tourists. There are a variety of accommodations in Puerto Viejo, however, we recommend heading just south to Cocles Access: Drive 2 hours east from San Jose until you reach Limon and take a right and continue for one hour until you reach Puerto Viejo.
3 - Black Beach, Cahuita An excellent beach break, not well known and therefore not heavily visited. Nevertheless, there are waves all year round.
4 - Westfalia A stretch of beach breaks extending south from limon to Cahuita, offering lefts and rights that tend to close out where the swell gets too big.
5 - Playa Bonita A point/reef break known for its very thick, powerful and dangerous left. Located 5 km north of limon (downtown).
6 - Portete A small bay located north of playa Bonita. With a right working off the southerly point. Since it is close to limon, you will find easy access.
7 - Isla Uvita An island off the coast of Limon. Here you will find a good left. Isla Uvita is about a 20 minutes boat ride from Limon with passage available at certain times of the year.
8 - The North Caribbean Coast Good beach break waves accessible via Tortuguero channels or by private plane. You can rent a boat to take you through the channels near Puerto Moin, 15 km north of playa Bonita.
Central Pacific Coast
9 - Potrero Grande A right point break, with very fast and hollow waves. Located 270 kms from San Jose with no road access. You must go to playas del coco or playa Ocotal and proceed from there by rented boat.
10 - Playa Naranjo (Witch's rock) one of the best breaks in the country, with very strong off-shore winds from December to march. This wilderness point is located in the national park of Santa Rosa. You must go totally prepared for camping since there are no facilities. A good 4wd is a must, and don't forget you mosquito net.
11 - Playa Grande Beach break, located about 20 minutes north of Tamarindo. Accessible by road.
12 - Playa Tamarindo Here you will find two mains points : a- Pico Pequeño a rocky point in front of the hotel Tamarindo, and b-el estero, an excellent river mouth break.
Tamarindo remains to be the most popular and well known, "surf mecca" on the northern pacific coast. This area is centrally located on the coast to offer easy access to a wide variety of surf breaks for all abilities including beach, rivermouth and of course, reef breaks such as Witches Rock and Ollies Point. Tamarindo is a great place to use as home base to explore many of the area breaks to the north and south.
There are several breaks in town including the rivermouth of Tamarindo and the more challenging break at Langosta. However, the real attraction of Tamarindo is its central location between the world famous break of Playa Negra (south) and Witches Rock (north). Logistically, Tamarindo provides the easiest place to explore the most surf in the shortest time. Moreover, Tamarindo offers a wide variety of accommodations from beachfront hotels, condominiums to private house rentals.
This is the best place on the northern pacific coast to go for the perfect mix of a variety of waves, accommodations, restaurants and nightlife. Playa Grande is a good option for those looking to avoid the crowds often found in Tamarindo and surf world class waves right out their front door.. Grande offers one of the area's most consistent waves and there are several private house rentals located right on the beach. This offers surfers a more remote option than Tamarindo while still offering easy access (15 minute drive) to the amenities of the town. Grande has very few services such as restuarants, shops,etc, however, all house rentals are equipped with full kitchens (so, if you are not feeling like cooking, ask about our private chefs or head to Tamarindo).
Access: Tamarindo is accessed by paved road all the way from San Jose (4 ½ hrs)or by shuttle plane (no boards over 7ft) into the local airport. Playa Grande is accessed by paved road from San Jose and a 10 minute ride on the dirt road just outside of Tamarindo or by shuttle plane into the local Tamarindo airport (no boards over 7ft)
13 - Langosta A right and left point break that curls off the mouth of a a small river, located I km south of Tamarindo.
14 - Avellanas Good beach break, 'guanacasteco' featuring very hollow rights and lefts. Located 10 km south of Tamarindo.
15 - Playa Negra A right point break with very fast waves, 350 kms from San Jose. Playa Negra is one of the best breaks in the country. Located 5 km south of playa Avellanas.
Avellanes/Negra - Playa Avellanes and Playa Negra offe some excellent surfing and for those looking for a remote vacation experience, these are the ideal destination. There are comfortable & affordable accommodations here within walking distance to the surf however the only services offered other than those found in nearby Tamarindo, are those at the hotel. This is an ideal location for surfers looking for a more relaxing, remote surfing vacation with less nightlife and more, dawn patrol sessions. Although most travelers opt to stay in Tamarindo and make the drive to these breaks, if you choose to stay at these locations for your surf vacation, the best way to enjoy these breaks is to stay at the respective hotel in front of the break (see list below).
Access: Avellanes and Negra are accessed by a dirt road from Huacas (just outside of Tamarindo). Check road conditions before driving (beach and internal road available).
16 - Nosara Beach break, with lefts and rights. About 350 kms from San Jose. You go from San Jose to Nicoya and from there to Nosara. It takes approx. 5 hours to get there.
Nosara has become increasingly popular amongst traveling surfers as it offers a more laid back, relaxed atmosphere than its bustling neighbor to the north, Tamarindo., while boasting world class surf almost all year. The small community of Nosara offers visitors a unique experience with a variety of moderate accommodations, activities such as surfing, fishing, horseback riding, etc….This area receives consistent swells, good wind conditions and has become a popular spot for longboarders. Nosara has become a popular destination for repeat visitors to Costa Rica who are looking for a different experience than Tamarindo or Hermosa. This is one of Costa Rica's most beautiful areas and the only noise that you will hear in Nosara is the sound of the waves crashing and the monkeys howling.
Access: Nosara is accessed by taking the ferry from Tempisque Ferry (by the end of the year, you can take the new bridge) across the Nicoya and then drive @ 2 hours until reaching Nosara
17 - 18 - 19 - Playa Coyote, Manzanillo, and Mal Pais Beach breaks, with very consistent lefts and rights and several points. A 4 wd vehicle is recommended. Now you can find a lot of places to stay.
Mal País, located on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, is another rising, yet still fairly untouched, surf destination in Costa Rica. Mal Pais/Santa Teresa is a very small community scattered along the pale, gold beaches with a beautiful backdrop of green vegetation. This area is ideal for surfers looking for a remote surfing experience with no nightlife, just good, consistent waves and a great atmosphere. Most waves in the area are best for intermediate surfers, however a large swell will put the area's more fickle reef breaks in epic form for advanced surfers
Access: Mal País is accessed by taking a ferry from Puntarenas and then driving about 1 hour on mostly paved road into town.
Central pacific Coast
20 - Boca Barranca A river mouth with a very long left, located 100 kms of San Jose with excellent access, paved road. Many places to stay. Dark water during rainy season scares off many. Boca Barranca and any other nearby beach are no contaminated. Boca Barranca offers some of the best waves pf the country.
21 - Puerto Caldera This spot has very very good left located 3 km south of Boca Barranca, Puntarenas.
22 - Playa Tivives and valor Featuring a variety of waves from beach breaks (Tivives) to a rocky point (valor). Good quality rights and lefts.
23 - Playa Escondida Excellent point break that peaks up forming a very good left and a surfable right. Accessible by land I you are a member of the beach club there (fresh water shower on the beach for member and guests), or by taxi boat to the cove to the south. You can rent a boat from playa Jaco or playa Herradura.
24 - Playa Jaco Can be good beach break when the surf is not too big. Tends to close out when it gets over 5 feet. Playa Jaco is approximately 2 hours from San Jose( 140 km), and the waves are not always dependable. One of its principal attraction has been surfing, this because of its location on the central pacific and it being so close to great quantity of places, specially playa Hermosa, playa Escondida, and Boca Barranca, Puntarenas. Jaco is a growing center of tourism enjoyment, with hotels, cabins and camp grounds.
25 - Roca Loca Located 1.5 km south of playa Jaco. A rocky point with rights that break over submerged rocks. To get the point, you will have to climb a small hill.
26 - Playa Hermosa and Others Very strong beach break. This long stretch of break peaks working any given day, but the preferred sand bar is located in front of a large tree known as the Almendro. The waves conditions are generally best when the tide is rising. Don't forget the tip the kids who open the gate for your car.
Playa Hermosa is the definitive surf mecca of the central pacific coast. This area argueably offers the most consistent year-round surf with over 3 ½ miles of steep beaches with excellent exposure to swells from almost any direction. Although this area is extremely popular, there are so many peaks up an down the beach that you are likely to find an uncrowded, head high peak at almost any time of year. Playa Hermosa is a small community of surfer friendly hotels and small restaurants & all accommodations are located beachfront with surf right out the door.
Because the surf in Playa Hermosa is more challenging than nearby Jaco, this area attracts a more experienced surfer. Although there are a few restaurants in the area, most choose to head into nearby Jaco for food, nightlife, shops, etc. Playa Jaco, located just 2 short hours from the international airport, has become one of Costa Rica's most visited beach towns, especially amongst the traveling surf community. Jaco is a small, yet extremely active town geared towards surfers, parties & nightlife. As you walk down the "strip," you will find countless surf shops, restaurants, bars, discos and a variety of accommodations.
This is the ideal destination for surfers or young travelers looking to be in the middle of the action. As mentioned above, Hermosa is geared more towards the hard-core surfer while Jaco is designed for the active type looking for plenty of hotels, surf shops, bars, discos and an overwhelming nightlife
Access: One of Hermosa's greatest advantages: located just 2 hours on paved road from the international airport.
27, 28, 29, 30 Esterillos Este, Esterillos Oeste, Bejuco, Boca Damas. Beach breaks, good wave forms, the points located very close to playa Hermosa, making easy access and many nearby accommodations. The wave conditions are very similar to those of playa Hermosa.
31 - Quepos This small left point is found at the river mouth in the city of Quepos, easy access with many restaurants and accommodations.
32 - Playita - Manuel Antonio Beach break, lefts and rights with good shape. This coastal area needs larger swell for the surf to show.
Manuel Antonio is a beautiful town located about 45 minutes south of Hermosa offering beginner surfers, or, surfers traveling with non-surfing partners an excellent destination. Manuel Antonio combines breathtaking jungle and ocean views, exotic beaches, unique wildlife, a wide variety of adventure activities, friendly local & tourist community and plenty of restaurants and bars creating an unforgettable experience for travelers of all walks of life Although this town is not a true surfing destination, there are some fun beach breaks at the local beaches and some excellent uncrowded breaks within a short drive.
Access: Manuel Antonio is accessed by a paved road (almost completely) from San Jose (3 hours) or by a shuttle flight into the local airport in Quepos (no boards over 7ft).
33 - Playa El Rey Rights and lefts beach break peaks. Best access to get there is taking the road to playa Dominical, 25 minutes from Quepos, in Roncador go right 11 kms and you will be there.
34 - Playa Dominical Good, strong beach break with lefts and rights. Beautiful landscapes and very tropical.
Dominical is a good option for those looking for similar conditions to Playa Hermosa in a more relaxed atmosphere. The surf here is mostly beach break, however, tends to close out on bigger swells as it is not as steep as Hermosa. There is a point break just to the south which offers some good surf on a bigger swell. Dominical, is a small laid back town surrounded by pristine rainforest and beautiful coastlines. This surfer's paradise offers fairly consistent surf, numerous local restaurants, bars and a wild nightlife. Dominical is geared towards serious surfers who wish to avoid the heavy crowds of Playa Hermosa and are looking for a more relaxed, tropical atmosphere
Access: Dominical is accessed by a dirt/gravel road from Manuel Antonio (1 hr) which can be accessed by paved road from San Jose or shuttle flight into the local airport of Quepos.
35 - Drake's Bay and area Accessible only by boat. This remote break offers long, powerful waves when the swell is running. Boca del Rio Sierpe, is another place with exciting potential for the same kind of waves . Corcovado national park is an adjacent kingdom of lush, tropical wilderness, approximately 1-1/2 hours by boat.
36 - Pavones Excellent left point, considered one of the longest in the world. Good shape and very fast. It is located 400 kms from San Jose (8 hours by car). Bring camping gear if you wish to hang there. Out on the peninsula across Pavones, a half-hour boat ride away, is reputedly a series pf right points the equivalent of Pavones½world class lefts.
Surfing in Costa Rica: Pavones is one of Costa Rica's most famous surf breaks offering one of the world's longest lefts which, on a good day, can connect for 2 - 3minute rides. The wave has several sections which allow for carving, pumping and, of course, showing off for the folks sipping on their Imperials at the Cantina at the end of the break. This area is extremely remote and if you can catch it on a good day, the logistical nightmares surrounding your arrival will be well worth it. However, there are many things to consider before traveling to Pavones. Due to its location on the interior of the Golfo Dulce, it is blocked from many swells and can go for weeks with no surf. Moreover, once the swell hits, it is common to see a large crowd of international travelers (+ the protective locals) battling for position. We recommend not going here until you know there is surf...once you get there, it is a long way back! There are very few hotels in the area and almost no services.
Access: Access to Pavones is achieved via a paved road all the way down south or fly into Golfito (no boards over 7ft) and catch a cab down to Pavones.
37 - Matapalo Excellent right point located in front of Pavones, you can get there by road from Pavones or by car from Golfito. Perfect waves. 38 - Punta Burica Very remote reef breaks. Accessible only by boat, No accommodations. Not much known. If you really want to get away...
Matapalo Situated on the extreme tip of the Osa Peninsula, Matapalo offers the extreme adventurer with an opportunity to witness one of the few untouched, pristine regions in Costa Rica. Matapalo combines dense jungles, breathtaking beaches, world class surfing in a peaceful, remote setting.
Matapalo offers three excellent point breaks that, with the right swell, will make any traveler unpack, and stay a while. However, there are several downsides to staying in Matapalo. First of all, the surf is not very consistent. Second, because this area is one of Costa Rica's few remaining pristine destinations, the "locals," (which in this case, any American who got there before you), are not very welcoming to new faces. Also, it is important to mention that this area is extremely remote and all power here is provided by solar energy. There are no restaurants, bars, shops and therefore, all hotels include all meals in their stay (which means rustic accommodations, does not mean "rustic" prices!)
Access: Access to Matapalo is via a paved road from San Jose all the way down south (there are some sections towards the end that are not paved…4x4 recommended) or via a shuttle flight to the local airport of Puerto Jimenez and then a one hour cab ride into Matapalo.