Tamarindo Surf Spots for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Surfers

Tamarindo Surf Spots for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Surfers

Depending on the tide, the wind, and the swell, there are plenty of places to surf all over Costa Rica, but it’s the Pacific coast that produces size and consistency. While some beaches that are rarely thought of for surfing can be a great spot to catch some waves on a day with just the right conditions, there are much more reliable Costa Rica surf spots where the perfect breaks can be found almost year round. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced surfer, Tamarindo Costa Rica has a wave for every ability. That’s because Tamarindo Beach is situated on the Northwest Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, putting it in the perfect position to receive smaller NW swells from the North Pacific and larger SW swells from the South Pacific.

costa rica surf spots

Tamarindo Surf Spots for the Beginner Surfer

Some of the best beginner breaks can be found in Tamarindo Beach. Tamarindo surf spots are ideal for the beginner surfer, featuring mellow waves with a soft landing. There are also a couple of more advanced breaks along the beach, if you know where to look. But whether you are already a shredder or you’ve never surfed before, Tamarindo gives off major surf vibes and if you’re looking to learn, its definitely the place to be to soak it all in.

Those starting out should look for gentle breaks with a sandy bottom, called a beach break, which is free of any dangerous rocks or reefs. One of the most ideal Costa Rica surf spots for beginners is right here in Tamarindo, directly in front of the Iguana Surf Shop. This is the spot on the beach where you will see our Iguana Surf instructors giving lessons to excited newbies.

tamarindo surf spots

The soft, sandy bottom and easy take-off and transition boasted by the main surf break in Tamarindo allows safe and fun surfing for everyone. That is why this Tamarindo surf spot is where most of the surfing lessons in Tamarindo, and much of Costa Rica, take place. Every Tamarindo grom started out on this break!

Mid to high tide is your best option for the safest conditions with the best chance of finding mellow waves at this Tamarindo surf break. The wave is generally a closeout, meaning the waves here will break all at once, instead of going right or left. Beginners can be rest assured they will not have to swim out too far to catch waves on Tamarindo’s main break. The waves here do not break out too far, and are generally best at the waist to chest height.

Tamarindo Surf Spots for the Intermediate Surfer

Costa Rica surf spots here along the Pacific Coast have a variety of waves that are perfect for intermediate surfers, due to their progression, sizable beach breaks, and slow rolling rocky points. If you’re an intermediate surfer, who has mastered the basics of popping up and turning down the line, there are several breaks for you in Tamarindo.

Check out these TOP 10 Surf Breaks near Tamarindo

A local favorite, Pico Pequeño is considered one of the best Tamarindo surf spots for intermediate surfers. It is located in the center of Playa Tamarindo about 150 meters south, or a two minute walk, from the main Tamarindo beach break. With sand, lava reef, and a few rocks underneath this break, it’s a good idea to know where to fall before heading out on the waves. This break would be considered a beach/reef break.

Pico Pequeño is actually a great place for intermediate surfers to learn some new skills, such as riding down the line, since the wave is a wedgie and not too fast. Offering consistent shape and surprising power, these waves are rarely over shoulder height, which is why this Tamarindo surf spot falls into the intermediate category.

costa rica surf spots

Tamarindo Surf Spots for the Advanced Surfer

Advanced surfers can get their fill at most Costa Rica surf spots, with plentiful barreling beaches and seemingly endless left points. And although Tamarindo Beach is considered by many to be a beginner’s beach for surfing, it offers a few advanced surfer breaks.

One such Tamarindo surf spot offering big waves for grizzled shredders is the river mouth break, known as El Estero, which is located at the north side of the beach at the entrance of the Tamarindo Estuary. Not recommended for beginner surfers, this is a dangerous surf spot all around, with rip currents, wave breaks near the shore, and even crocodiles!

Some intermediate surfers surf this spot as well, as the wave strength is dependent on the sandbar below. From year-to-year, the sand deposits of the river mouth will shift, sometimes producing a 200 meter pin-wheeling barrel, while other years the wave is mostly a close out. Also, the waves here tend to lose strength at high tide, unlike the other breaks mentioned. But when the Tamarindo river mouth is at its best, it is for sure an advanced wave.

The ideal wave height at this break is chest high to overhead. The waves come from deep water to shallow water very fast and have been known to break boards, not to mention bones in the case of a gnarly wipe out! Not for the faint of heart, this Northwest swell can get busy when it’s pumping, with many local surfers looking to get tubed in front of their buddies. This is another reason it is best to leave this swell to the more advanced surfer.

costa rica surf spots

Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced surfer, you can always improve your skills at a Tamarindo surf camp. Iguana Surf offers several options for those looking to learn. We offer group lessons that are perfect for the first time surfer that may be traveling solo or doesn’t mind being in a group environment to learn with other beginners. Semi-private lessons are great for those traveling with friends or family members and would prefer to have a lesson with just you and your group and an instructor. Our private surf lessons are best suited for anyone looking to have a surfing experience customized to their individual skill level, where the instructor is solely focused on you, providing personal feedback to improve your surfing abilities. The best part about taking a private lesson is it guarantees more waves for you! With the semi-private and private lessons, you can decide which time you would prefer for your lesson, which offers much more flexibility when booking.

Those who stay with us at the Iguana Surf Camp will get it all, including accommodation in downtown Tamarindo, breakfast, airport transportation, daily surf lessons, rashguard, unlimited board rentals, and a surf photo package to capture your experience on the waves.

Even if you don’t ever get on a board you can still get a great photo of yourself up on a board! Our surf shop has a brand new deck featuring a “land wave” that is perfect for getting that unique (and cute) Instagram shot! Come visit us at the Iguana Surf Shop on main street Tamarindo and give us your best hang ten pose!

tamarindo surf spots

Whether you’re a newbie or a shredder, we think Tamarindo has a wave for everyone. That’s why we’ve been offering surf lessons to beginners, intermediate, and advanced surfers in Tamarindo Beach since 1989. Come see what Iguana Surf and Tamarindo Beach have to offer surfers of all abilities. You won’t be disappointed.


By Jennifer LaCharite

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