Costa Rica is famous for several things: stunning natural beauty, active volcanoes, cloud forests, rich biodiversity, friendly local population, a remarkably high number of national parks, and of course, surfing. Surfing and Costa Rica are synonymous and thanks to the National Surfing Circuit the long time beloved surf spots of local, expats, and visitors alike are getting some major attention from international surfers and some big names in the world of surfing.
For years, visitors have come to Costa Rica to surf breaks like Pavones, Salsa Brava, Ollie’s Point, Witch’s Rock, Playa Avellanas, Playa Grande, and of course Playa Tamarindo. Ranging from breaks great for beginners and experts alike, to breaks that only the pros should paddle out to, Costa Rica offers some top of the line surfing and the National Surfing Circuit is hitting some of these locations this year.
So far the National Surfing Circuit has had its kick off round in Playa Cocles, located on the southern Caribbean Coast. Not far from the world famous Salsa Brava, Playa Cocles proves a more consistent break than the temperamental and sometimes dangerous Salsa Brava. Dominating the first round of the National Surfing Circuit was Limon native Gilbert Brown, the current champion of the Kolbi sponsored National Surfing Circuit. But, the winner of the first of seven rounds of the tournament was Santa Teresa native, Anthony Fillingim. Fillingim will have a home court advantage during the second stage of the tournament, set to take place in Playa Tamarindo, not far from Santa Teresa, where the waves tend to be cleaner than the sometime rough and unpredictable Caribbean beach break.
Pros and beginners alike can improve their surfing skills at a variety of surf camps operating in the Tamarindo area, home to some of the country’s best surfing conditions. Guanacaste surf locations tend to be glassy and ideal for those new to the sport, making surf camps in this region of the country more popular than other locations. Kids and teenagers who dream of joining the National Surfing Circuit can learn on the same waves as their favorite pros by signing up for on of the excellent surf camps, like Iguana Surf camp, offering package for surfers of all skill levels. Whether getting on a board for the very first time or taking it to that higher level, surf camp participants will come away feeling more accomplished and more confident surfing the different breaks of the Tamarindo and Guanacaste area.
As the Kolbi National Surfing Circuit moves around Costa Rica, we’ll see if the reigning champion, Gilbert Brown, can hold onto his title or if Pacific coast native Anthony Fillingim has what it takes to win it all. In the Women’s Open category, Lizbeth Vindas, one of the best female pro surfers in the world started out the tournament on top, although not by much. The young Leilani McGonagle made Vindas work for her win and time will tell if the Vindas or McGonagle will come out on top.