Costa Rica Surf Seasons: How to Pick the Best Month to Visit

Costa Rica Surf Seasons: How to Pick the Best Month to Visit

Hailed as one of the top surfing destinations in the world, Costa Rica has quickly become a surfing mecca, especially for those looking to learn the sport. With tropical weather and an average water temperature of 28 degrees Celsius (83 F), the best time of year to surf in Tamarindo Costa Rica is anytime. Of course, that isn’t to say there aren’t better seasons for specific needs. Depending on what you are looking for, and your surf ability, there are definitely Costa Rica surf seasons to consider.

To understand the different Costa Rica surf seasons, you must first realize the seasons of the tropical country, and how they affect not only the weather, but the crowds, the prices, and the waves.

Costa Rica Surf Seasons

Rainy season

If you ask a true surfer when is the best time of year to surf in Costa Rica, they will likely answer rainy season, or green season. These names are interchangeable. The rains bring out all the shades of green across the countryside and along the coast. This is especially noticeable in the tropical dry forest of Guanacaste where you will find the famous surf town of Tamarindo. Green season typically starts in May and tapers off in November, with the rainiest month in October. In October, it may rain on and off all day, while in other months, like July for instance, it may just rain for about 20 minutes in the morning or late afternoon and dry up quickly due to the heat. The heat remains quite consistent no matter what time of year it is, with daytime highs around 30 degrees Celsius (86 F).

Costa Rica surf seasons

So, why is rainy season the best time of year to surf in Costa Rica? The main reason this is the best surf season in Costa Rica is the waves are bigger. Green season is prime time for southwest swells from the South Pacific, bringing the biggest waves of the year to the pacific shores of Costa Rica. There is also much less wind during the rainy season, making the ocean appear smooth and glossy. So, while you can find mellow waves throughout the year in Playa Tamarindo, intermediate to advanced surfers will enjoy the bigger swells found here during the rainy season. 

Discover the best intermediate surf breaks in Tamarindo.

Another reason surfers find the rainy season so desirable for surfing is fewer crowds. As temperatures rise in the northern hemisphere, a hot destination like Costa Rica tends to cool off in terms of tourism. So, not only will there be fewer people surfing and less competition for the best waves, there will be fewer crowds on the beach, in the restaurants, and hotels, and prices are often lower to entice customers during these low periods of tourism. 

Dry season

The best time for beginner surfers to visit Costa Rica is during the dry season, which is December to May. This is the time when the waves will be smaller and more fun for anyone just learning to surf. The dry season is considered the summertime months in Costa Rica, when the rains taper off in mid-November and hold off entirely until around May. The beginning of dry season will still have a lot of greenery to show off here in the tropical dry forest, but towards the end of the season, some of the trees will lose their leaves and the grasses will dry up, taking away much of the shades of green that shot up during the rainy season. One thing that will stand out amongst the dry leaves will be the colorful flowering trees that thrive during the dry season like the Corteza Amarilla, which displays a remarkable blaze of yellow blossoms under the blazing sun.

best time of year to surf costa Rica

The dry season starts with strong winds called the Papagayo Winds in December and January. These winds can help keep you cool under the high heat of the afternoon, which gets up to about 34 degrees C (93 F) daily during the peak of these summer months. During the rest of dry season, fairly consistent Northeast offshores prevail, particularly in Guanacaste.

Dry season is also the most popular time to visit Costa Rica so there will be plenty of things happening, especially in the buzzing beach town of Tamarindo. The uptick in tourism in dry season means more entertainment in the bars and restaurants around town. Things such as live music, fire dancers, festivals, and fiestas will be taking place during these summer months. And while this is the most popular time to visit Costa Rica, the beaches are still less crowded than the all-time popular surfing destinations like Hawaii, Australia, or Southern California.

best time of year to surf costa Rica

When to Visit Costa Rica

There are many variables to consider regarding when is the best time to travel to Costa Rica. If you’re an intermediate to advanced surfer looking for big waves, your best time of year to surf will be June to September, when the swells are at their highest along the north Pacific coast. This way you can avoid the heavy rains that usually accompany the month of October. If you’re a novice surfer, your best time to surf will be December to May, although we can always find some smaller swell for our beginner surf students nearly every day of the year in Tamarindo.

Learn to surf with us! We offer group, semi-private, and private lessons.

If you’re looking for guaranteed sunny days, your best bet is to come to Costa Rica between December and April. This coincides somewhat with when airlines tend to have the best prices on flights to Costa Rica, which is late January to April and September to November. Low season travelers who come during September, October, and November will likely see the best prices on accommodations, tours, and entrance fees as well.

best time of year to surf costa Rica

Whenever you choose to travel to Costa Rica, it will be a lot simpler beginning April 1, 2022. That is when Costa Rica has decided to end several of its Covid travel restrictions. Travelers entering the country after April 1 will no longer have to fill out the Health Pass, or pase de salud, or prove their vaccination status to any establishments that were requiring the QR code. The code, which is generated after filling out the Health Pass, allowed participating establishments such as restaurants, hotels, and stadiums to operate at full capacity if they required their guests to present their QR codes before entering. After April 1, all businesses can return to 100 percent capacity without the QR code requirement. 

Also starting April 1, unvaccinated travelers are no longer required to purchase additional Covid insurance, which covered the policy holder up to USD 50,000 in medical expenses related to Covid 19 infection and $2,000 lodging expenses should the policy holder have to quarantine in the country. Masks are still required in indoor public places, however, for the time being.

Costa Rica surf seasons

The curfew and driving restrictions, that had been in place since the start of the pandemic, ended in March 2022. This means all businesses, such as bars and nightclubs, that were affected by the midnight to 5 a.m. ban can now resume normal operational hours. Party time is officially back in Tamarindo! Whether you are a great surfer or you’ve never even been on a board, there are surf seasons to consider in Costa Rica. But with the year-round warm weather and consistent waves, there is never a bad time to surf in Costa Rica. Trust the experts at Iguana Surf to guide you to the best surf spots in and around Tamarindo all year long!


By Jennifer LaCharite

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