Tips From Our Costa Rica Surf School

Tips From Our Costa Rica Surf School

Get the most out of your Costa Rica surf trip with these tips for the best board rentals, surf lessons, times to surf, and more! 

Our Tamarindo Surf School Iguana Surf is located beachfront in the best little beach town in Costa Rica. To get to the Tamarindo Beach break, literally all you have to do is cross the street! We are your one stop shop for everything you will need to catch some epic waves on your vacation. Whether you have never surfed a day in your life or you are a seasoned pro, we can help you out! 

Surfing in Tamarindo: 

The most important part to having a successful surf session is making sure you are surfing at the best time! There are a ton of factors like the swell, the tide, the wind, etc. but the basic rule of thumb in Tamarindo is that the surfing is usually best two hours before and two hours after the high tide. There is more water, so the waves are bigger and more powerful during this time. You can pretty much surf anywhere along the main beach between Iguana Surf and the rivermouth. The southern end of the beach doesn’t really get many waves. During high tide there is also a spot in front of the shop called Pico, where the waves break against some rocks and make for a nice little spot right in front of them. During low tide, you can also surf in the rivermouth, depending on the conditions. You will probably be able to find at least something to surf any time of day if you try. There are also waves in Tamarindo all year round! The water is warm, and the bottom is soft and sandy. So get ready for some fun. 

costa rica surf school

Surf Lessons: 

Our Costa Rica surf school has lessons daily at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm. All lessons are 2 hours long and the price includes everything you need: a board, a rashguard, use of our lockers and shower! The lessons all start with about 20 minutes on the sand, where your instructor will teach you about safety, technique, theory, and all the other little details that are important to know about surfing. Then, you will head into the water and catch waves for the rest of the lesson! Many of our instructors have grown up surfing at Tamarindo Beach since they were just little kids, and if not native, they have lived in the area for a while and spent a great deal of time on their own surfing the Tamarindo waves. They all have a ton of knowledge of the area and are pros at reading the waves. We know they have a lot of valuable tips to share! There are three different options for surf lessons: 

Group Surf Lessons ($45 per person). 

These lessons are great for solo travelers or those just looking for the best price. Anyone can hop into a group lesson – they are made for beginners, so you will start with the basics. Our groups are no more than four people per instructor, so you will never get lost in the crowd and always still get plenty of attention from the instructor. If traveling alone, these lessons are a great way to meet new people! Then after the lesson, you can all go out for a beer together to refresh. 

Semi-Private Lessons ($65 per person).

These lessons are designed for groups of two or three (couples, siblings, friends traveling together, etc.) that want to do a surf lesson without anyone else mixed into their group. We will send you with one instructor just for you so that you can get the most out of your time, ask lots of questions, and surf some amazing waves with the people you love! You will have a bit more flexibility in these lessons since it is just your party and the instructor, so if there is something in particular you really want to work on, feel free to just let your instructor know and he can make that a focus. 

Private Surf Lessons ($80 per person).

To really make the most of your time, a one-one-one surf lesson is an awesome option so that you can really hone in on your specific skills and areas of improvement, and come away a much stronger surfer. Since it is just you and the instructor, you can personalize it a lot more. Of course if you are a beginner, your instructor will just cover the usual points which will be the perfect place for you to start. But if you are a more advanced surfer, we would definitely recommend taking a private lesson so that you do not have to sit through the basics of the group lessons at the beginning, and you can jump right in to what you really want to learn.

Surf Board Rentals: 

Iguana Surf has a great selection of boards for rent for all shapes, sizes, and levels. If you take a surf lesson at Iguana Surf, you will automatically get 50% off of your board rentals for the rest of your vacation! That’s a pretty awesome deal – that means rentals start at just 5 bucks for two hours. 

Soft Tops:

Our foam soft top boards are great for beginners, and they are what we use for the beginner lessons. Soft top boards are easier to start with because they are extremely buoyant, which makes it easy to paddle and you don’t have to work as much. They are also quick to catch waves. They are long, wide, and stable, which makes learning to stand up a snap. They are also safer for beginners because they have rounded, soft edges and more forgiving fins, so it is harder to get hurt with them. They are also extremely durable and don’t ding like traditional fiberglass boards do, making them a good option for beginners so you can surf without worry. 

There are a few downsides to soft tops. Since they are so buoyant, that makes it basically impossible to duck dive under waves with them. They are also harder to turn and maneuver once you are up on a wave because of the length and soft rails. Because of this, they are perfect for beginners but once you start getting the basics and are looking for a little more performance, it will be time to move up to a fiberglass board!


The next step after a soft top would be to move to a fiberglass longboard. These boards are usually over 8 or 9 feet with a rounded nose. Like the soft tops, they are long, stable, and easy to paddle. They offer a little more maneuverability and are a bit more challenging to catch the waves with. But once you get the hang of it, they are super fun to ride. There is a great deal of style attached with riding a longboard… you have probably seen surfers walking along the board, surfing with their toes over the very end of the board, or even tandem surfing! These boards can be a lot of fun for beginners and experienced surfers alike. 


These boards are a middle of the road option for those who are looking for a little more performance, without having to work as hard as they would using a shortboard. These boards are shorter than longboards, but not as short as shortboards. And as the name suggests, they are a lot of fun! If the waves are just a little too big for a longboard but not right for a shortboard, take a funboard out and see what you can catch. These would be recommended for intermediate surfers and beyond, because since they are shorter and have less volume than longboards, it does make it harder to paddle and catch waves. You need to have a bit of base technique in order to make this work! 


The typical board that you see the pros using in competitions and everything is a shortboard. Usually around 5’ 6” to 6’ 4”, these boards are small and light so that they can be maneuvered in crazy ways for flips, airs, and big slashing turns. They sacrifice paddling ease for speed, power, and control. You can easily duck dive under waves with them because they do not float very easily, which is necessary for surfing big sets. 

A fish is another kind of shortboard that features a wider, rounder nose, a wider midsection width, and a swallow tail. They are designed to improve wave catching capability while maintaining speed and maneuvering performance. They are ideal for small to medium sized waves. 

Clearly, there are tons of different options when it comes to choosing a surfboard. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry! Our expert staff is here to help you pick the perfect board for you. And even if you rent one and it doesn’t quite work out, you are more than welcome to switch it out for something else so you can get the most out of your surf session. 

So there you have it – all the info you need to make your surfing vacation in Tamarindo a smashing success. Whether you want to try a surf lesson, rent a board, or both, we know that Iguana Surf will have what you need! There’s a reason we have had many of the same clients coming back for years and years. We can’t wait to welcome you to the Iguana Family! 

costa rica surf school



    Ready for Paradise? Or Have a Question?
    Send our Surf Team a Message!

    Your Name (required)
    Your Email (required)
    What are you interested in? (required)
    Your Message (required)

    Need help?