Ever thought about visiting a Costa Rica surf town, but just didn’t know where to go because there are just too many options? Well, we are here to help break it down for you! Each destination has its perks so read on to get a better idea of what destination you want to spend your time at.
Costa Rica is a magical place, offering everything from expansive cities, jungles, volcanos, and sloths, to quaint towns with amazing surf breaks. This country truly holds a little bit of everything for everyone. But if you are like most that come flocking this way, it is for the world-class surf. Costa Rica boasts a vast array of waves ranging from beginner breaks to massive, fast-paced surfing mammoths. Each break offers varying differences, just like the surf towns that are often grouped close these gloriously blue waves.
Costa Rica is home to many pristine sandy beach towns, but picking the right place for your Costa Rican surf trip can be a little hard with all the choices within the country. Some of the more notable Costa Rican surf towns are Tamarindo, Nosara, Santa Teresa, Jaco, and Puerto Viejo. Just like the differing breaks that you can find around the country, each of these towns is unique in their own way and offer different experiences. So what can you expect in each of these gorgeous surf towns In Costa Rica?
Best Experienced Surf Break – El Estero & Pico Pequeno & Grande
Best Beginner Surf Break – Tamarindo main beach
Location – West coast about 1 hour from the LIR airport
Vibe – Party surf town
A tropical beach town in the Guanacaste Province, boasting amazing food, killer waves for beginner to intermediate surfers, highly authentic local sodas, and some truly amazing surf shops. Home to the one and only Robert August, this place truly captures peoples hearts with its Endless Summer vibes. The town is decently developed, compared to others, but is very easy to get around in. Most places are walkable, but there are plenty of taxis, and collectivo’s that can help you move around. May it be the long crescent-shaped beach, the gorgeous sunsets, the friendly locals, or the vast array of happy hours, there is a reason that many people never leave Tamarindo.
This Costa Rican beach town is the perfect mix of activities, party, and relaxation. Although you may find that during high season the beach may be a little crowded, the entire vibe of this town is intoxicating and will have you wanting to rip up your return ticket.
Best Experienced Surf Break – Camaronal
Best Beginner Surf Break – Guiones
Location – West coast about 2 hours from Tamarindo
Vibe – Sleepy surf town
A seemingly opposite vibe to that of tumultuous Tamarindo, Nosara is a quaint little beach town that will steal your heart away with its hippy, relaxed atmosphere and long white sandy beaches. The vibe is not the only difference here. Nosara is not as compact as Tamarindo is and people often opt to get around via car or ATV. The dust here is thick and most of the streets are not paved, but you will for sure be seeing a seemingly more authentic Costa Rican vibe. The waves at Playa Guiones are faster and bigger than those you will find at Playa Tamarindo. This also goes for the period between waves. It can be hard for those with longer boards to get out to catch a wave as you will be battling a constant army of whitewash soldiers. However, once you get past them, the waves are long, sloping, and quick. After you surf, there are several places that you can grab food, including some very authentic local sodas, and even some gorgeous surf shops that have breweries that you can hit up for a nice cold frothy beverage. In terms of nightlife, this sleepy town has one bar, creatively named El Bar, which you can find a great mix of locals and tourists frequenting sometimes. For the most part, the party is left in Tamarindo, but this town is not a place you want to miss on your Costa Rica surf trip.
Best Experienced Surf Break – Santa Teresa, Mar Azul & Cabuya
Best Beginner Surf Break – Hermosa & Carmen
Location – West coast near the tip of the Nicoya Pennisula
Vibe – Laid back surf town
Situated on the western side of the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa is a gorgeous surf destination with the perfect mix of jungle and beach. If Tamarindo sounded a little bit too hectic for you and Nosara a little too sleepy, then Santa Teresa is your just right. Expect chill hippy vibes, sparkling white sand beaches, consistent waves, and plenty of stunning nature. Although the waves here are better for intermediates, there are breaks close by that are more fit for beginners. Beyond the waves, travelers are sure to find a ton of other activities to keep them busy, plenty of delicious food to eat, several places to practice yoga, and bars to dance the night away in.
In terms of restaurants, bars, and accommodation you can find both laid back budget-friendly spots here as well as more upscale luxurious places. There are some pretty spectacular hotels that you can bunk out in or if you are on a tight budget there are plenty of options that will suit as well. Another amazing attraction that you need to check out while here is the amazingly lush and diverse Cabo Blanco National Reserve. It is a little outside of the town but there is over 150 different species of trees, countless birds, adorable monkeys, anteaters, armadillos and much more.
Best Experienced Surf Break – Playa Hermosa
Best Beginner Surf Break – Playa Jaco
Location – West coast about 2 hours from San Jose
Vibe – Touristy surf town
Located 2 hours away from the bustling city of San Jose lies a highly energetic surf town with stellar intermediate waves, nightlife, and food. Jaco is filled with easy going Tico’s and tourists looking to fill their days with activities and then party down as the night time arises. Expect beaches to be speckled with people setting up shop for long beach days filled with many aquatic activities.
The main beaches that draw people towards them are Playa Hermosa and Playa Herradura. Hermosa is a world-class surfing destination with large waves that break fast and heavy. Herradura, on the other hand, is a serene and slow-paced beach which is great for lounging, reading, and escape from the lively pace of Jaco. The main road in Jaco has endless options for eating and shopping and is situated right on the beach. Have amazing patio drinks and enjoy the lush landscape as the mountains make for a greener oasis than other beach towns. The accommodation here is pretty stellar as well. Your money goes a little further here for setting you up with a pretty sweet pad. Air B&B is decently popular but there is also many hotels or hostels that one can choose from.
Best Experienced Surf Break – Salsa Brava
Best Beginner Surf Break – El Barco & Playa Cocles
Location – East Coast
Vibe – Caribbean laid back
On the Caribbean side of Costa Rica lies a jungle gem of a beach town. If you thought you have seen gorgeous blue water, then think again. The water is clear as can be and is a turquoise awe against the fine-grained white sand. Get ready for a truly unique and laid back experience that is unlike what you can find on the Pacific Coast. Although this side is not known as much as the opposite for its amazing waves, Puerto Viejo has some great breaks that attract the surfing crowd. Salsa Brava breaks off the reef and the beach Playa Cocles has some consistent swells that are well suited to both beginners and intermediate surfers. As for the food and nightlife, the area is teeming with tons of options. Local sodas carry extraordinary coconut rice and there are plenty of bars to grab an ice cold beer in. If you are looking for your tropical jungle paradise, this plentiful surf town might just be the place for you.
So whatever vibe you crave or type of wave you want to ride, these Costa Rican surf towns have you covered! Each place is so unique but all offer gorgeous beaches, extremely friendly locals, great food, and a vast array of activities. It is time to just go for it. Book that trip that you have always been talking about and just do it. Costa Rica is a booming travel destination that you do not want to miss. Visit Costa Rica and discover the Pura Vida way of life while you explore its many vibes and ride its excellent waves.