Tamarindo is the place to be for a Costa Rica surf trip. The town is fun and lively, there are tons of great activities for all ages, and most importantly, the surf is awesome. There are consistent waves in Tamarindo pretty much all year round, as long as there is a good swell! Whether you are just a beginner or have been surfing for a while, you will be able to find waves that are perfect for you. There are also lots of great options for lessons and board rentals if you are just getting started! Iguana Surf is Tamarindo’s oldest surf shop and can definitely help you out with that. Tamarindo is also home to lots of great places to stay, from condos to hotels, to hostel rooms sure to fit any budget. However, if somehow, you end up getting bored in Tamarindo, it is situated close to many other amazing surf breaks that are easy to get to if you want to explore some new terrain. Some can be day trips or the ones that are a bit further maybe a couple of days, but all are incredible and worth checking out. Here is a quick list of some of the best surf trips to take in the region of Guanacaste.
COSTA RICA SURF – DAY TRIPS:
Playa Negra is a beach about 45 minutes south of Tamarindo that makes for a great day trip from town. If you have a car, pack up your boards, some snacks, and a few cold cervezas and head out to spend the afternoon at this awesome break. It is a relatively quiet area with a few small supermarkets and places to stay around, but you will probably not see too many other people which is part of what makes this spot so special. The beach gets its name because of the black sand (arena negra), and it is absolutely gorgeous. It is definitely a bit more of an advanced break and there are some rocks, so just be aware of that and paddle out with someone if you can.
If you drive just a little further, you’ll come upon Playa Marbella: a hidden gem that locals love. There is not much infrastructure built up around it, so it is also great for a day trip and then head back to your hotel in Tamarindo. It is easy to rent boards and bring them from Tama or use your own if you already have them! The waves at Marbella are definitely more advanced, but most people say they are some of the nicest in the area. It is the perfect spot to go to escape the hustle and bustle of town and get away from all of the people. Pack a picnic and spend the day surfing and soaking up the sun. If you really can’t get enough, you could even camp out for the night for a true beach getaway! Just make sure you bring plenty of sunscreens, bug spray, and water, as you will not be able to buy much while you are there! There is a restaurant though that can keep the cold beers flowing and provide some delicious local food like gallo pinto or casado if you get hungry.
Witch’s Rock & Ollie’s Point
Witch’s Rock (or Roca Bruja, in Spanish) and Ollie’s Point have long been some of the most iconic and well-known surf spots in Costa Rica, for good reason. If you have heard about surfing in Costa Rica, you have probably heard those names. Witch’s Rock got its name from a legend of a witch living on the rock, and it is said that sometimes you can hear her howling out there. You’ll have to come to see for yourself! The rock and the break are located off the coast of Playa Naranjo and accessed by boat. This break is definitely for advanced surfers, so don’t sign up for a trip to Witch’s if you are just beginning. However, for those with some experience, it is truly some top-notch Costa Rica surf!
When the tide gets low at Witch’s, you can take the boat over to Ollie’s Point which is a point break nearby. Ollie’s is not quite as famous as Witch’s rock, but every bit as fun and worth surfing while you are out there. The scenery is gorgeous, the water is warm, and the waves are awesome! There are many places in Tamarindo that offer trips to both breaks, including Iguana Surf. It is best to stay in Tamarindo or Playa del Coco in order to access these spots. You will leave early in the morning to get on the boat, and then make it back by the end of the day so you can still catch the sunset and enjoy dinner and some drinks in Tamarindo.
COSTA RICA SURF – MULTI-DAY TRIPS:
Nosara – Playa Guiones
Nosara is an awesome place for a surf trip because it is close to Tamarindo and easy to get to, but it is also a whole new town with a new vibe and home to another huge, gorgeous beach. It is located just about two hours south of Tamarindo and although the road is a bit bumpy in places, it is a beautiful drive. The town itself is a little smaller and quieter than Tamarindo, which makes it the perfect place to go to really relax a bit. It is also a very health-oriented place, with plenty of yoga and good food. So when you aren’t surfing, you can take advantage of the laid back vibe and surely meet some amazing people along the way! The main beach where people surf is called Playa Guiones, and it is a nice long beach just like Tamarindo. The waves are usually a bit bigger and come in faster sets, so it is a perfect intermediate spot but there are beginner waves too and also some surf shops around if you need to rent or want to take a lesson. There is also plenty of room out in the water, so this spot is never too crowded!
A bit further down the coast (about 4 hours from Tamarindo) right on the point of the peninsula, you will find the quaint little town of Santa Teresa. It is also a bit smaller and quieter than Tamarindo and Nosara and is nicely situated where the jungle meets the beach. The beach is also nice and long and sandy, with crystal blue water. The waves here are a little bigger than in Tamarindo, but there are still places that offer surf lessons and rentals for all levels. It is an awesome spot to go out on your own if you are an intermediate surfer. If you are looking for a quiet town with lots of access to nature nearby, then Santa Teresa is a great surf trip destination. There aren’t as many restaurants and bars as there are in Tamarindo, but there is also diving, yoga, and forest trails to explore when you aren’t surfing that are hard to beat! Starting in Tamarindo, heading down through Nosara, and then finishing your trip in Santa Teresa would be the perfect way to hit all the top spots on the peninsula and surf the best of what the Pacific has to offer.
Hermosa means beautiful in Spanish, and the town and the beach definitely both live up to that name. Playa Hermosa is located on the Central Pacific coastline of Costa Rica, about 3km from the bigger surf town of Jaco. Playa Hermosa has a little less traffic and the waves are a little calmer than Playa Jaco, but both are worth checking out. Especially if you are traveling with friends that surf at different levels! This area could have something for everyone all on the same day, and there are plenty of different peaks so even if there are other surfers in the water, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a spot to yourself. When you are not surfing, Playa Hermosa is a lovely spot to spend the afternoon with a picnic or a beer, yet another gorgeous long beach with thick grey sand. Jaco is known for going out, so if you want to socialize over some drinks after your surf session then that is the place to be. Or for a calmer route, it is also known as the gateway to some of the national parks in the area so heading out to see some nature and waterfalls is a nice option too. This is a place you could easily spend multiple days and not get bored.
If you haven’t already begun planning your Costa Rica surf trip, then it is time to get started! With so many gorgeous beaches and killer waves to check all within such close proximity to each other, Guanacaste is truly a mecca for surf enthusiasts. Finding a great place to stay in Tamarindo is a piece of cake, and from there your backyard will be the ultimate surf playground. We’ll see you out in the water! Pura Vida!