With warm waters and 800 miles of coastline, Costa Rica surf is one of the best in the world and, as a popular surfing destination, Costa Rica has its share of surfing events and top players. From Olympic hopefuls to surf contests in Costa Rica, here we feature some of the best of what Costa Rica surf has to offer.
Surf Contests Costa Rica
The National Surf Circuit, or Circuito as it’s known in Costa Rica, is put on by the Costa Rican Surfing Federation (Federacion de Surf de Costa Rica or FSC). The FSC represents, supervises, and promotes the sport of surfing in the country, holding surf contests in Costa Rica throughout the year. The second date of the national circuit is taking place on the Caribbean side of the country in Playa Cocles on March 25 and 26 where 140 surfers will compete in 14 categories.
The National Surf Circuit returned this year after three years of absence due to the pandemic. The first Circuito surf contest of the year at Playa Hermosa near Jaco brought together more than 1,300 people to watch the tournament. Sam Reidy, 19, took home first place in the men’s open competition, while 16-year-old Rachel Agüero took the top spots in women’s open and junior U18.
Costa Rica Surf Events
Tamarindo International Surf Film Festival
With film screenings, live performances, and surprise guests, the Tamarindo International Surf Film Festival is being held on March 25 and 26, 2023. This is being called the second annual event, despite the first one taking place in 2019 before the global shutdown.
The festival brings award-winning surf films to the big screen in a fun atmosphere with food, drinks, pop-up shops, and music. Four short films and four feature films will be played at TRIO restaurant and event center in Tamarindo.
With a mission to give back to the community, proceeds of the festival support CEPIA, which is a Costa Rican non-profit organization promoting culture, health, sports, and education for 3,000 underprivileged children, teens, and adults in 27 communities.
Robert August Surfboards and Screenings
If you are a fan of surf films, you’ve definitely heard of ‘Endless Summer’. The star of the 1960s movie and legendary surfer Robert August makes his home part-time in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. He also appears in the 1990s ‘Endless Summer II’, which features now-famous Costa Rica surf spots Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point.
August still lives his passion every day, riding Costa Rica surf and shaping custom-made surfboards in Tamarindo Beach. Located just down the street from Iguana Surf Shop, August’s board shop encourages visitors to stop in and say hello to the legendary surfer and watch a demonstration of his custom work. August also holds regular screenings of ‘Endless Summer’ and ‘Endless Summer II’ at a local venue.
Top Players in Costa Rica Surf
Two of the top players in Costa Rica surf at the moment are Carlos Muñoz and Brisa Hennessy. You may recognize the latter’s name if you watched the 2020 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo, which actually took place in the summer of 2021 due to the pandemic. Brisa represented Costa Rica in the Olympics in the new surfing category. Carlos nearly made the last heat in the surfing Olympic finals as he sought to be a last-minute replacement for surfer Frederico Morais, who was disqualified for testing positive for Covid 19. Unfortunately, he did not make the long trip between Costa Rica and Japan in time for the competition.
Both surfers compete professionally with the best surfers in the world on the 2023 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour. The best ten men and the best eight women in the ranking at the end of the season will qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Brisa was the first Central American surfer to qualify for the Olympic Games and the entire country was rooting for her at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Brisa made it to the quarterfinals of the women’s shortboard event finishing in 5th place overall while the country she called home until the age of eight cheered from afar.
Brisa recently achieved 5th place at the Billabong Pro Pipeline and Hurley Pro Sunset Beach competitions in the World Surf League Championship Tour. She earned 8th place at the MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro this past month. Last year she got first place at the Hurley Pro in Oahu. Brisa is currently ranked #8 on the Women’s Championship Tour.
Brisa qualified for the World Surf League Championship Tour in 2018 at the age of 19, becoming the first Costa Rican to qualify for the tour. The now 23-year-old, 5 ft 4 in, 125-pound powerhouse recently won the first-ever WSL Impact Award for promoting the protection of our oceans.
Prior to the Olympics, Brisa brought home gold for Costa Rica at the 2019 Pan American Games. She won gold twice at the International Surfing Competition (ISC) World Championship games in 2016 and 2018.
Carlos “Cali” Muñoz
After missing the Olympic heats, Muñoz qualified for the 2022 World Surf League Championship Tour. A devastating shoulder injury during a WSL event in Oahu, Hawaii last year threatened to keep him out of the tour for 2023, however surgery and Pulsed Electro Magnetic Frequency (PEMF) therapy helped his recovery to put him back in the running.
So far in 2023, he has competed in three events in the Championship Tour, placing 17th at Billabong Pro Pipeline, Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, and MEO Rip Curl Portugal Pro. He is currently ranked #27 on the Men’s Championship Tour.
The First major win for Muñoz on the professional surfing circuit was a first-place finish at the Volcom Pro Junior Championship in 2010 at 16 years old. He made the WSL Qualifying Series in 2009 – the first Costa Rican to do so.
Learn to Surf with the Best
If you have ever wanted to take a surfing lesson in Costa Rica, then Tamarindo Beach is the place to do it! The warm water, light currents, and soft sand landing are just a few of the reasons why Tamarindo is ranked amongst the top 10 best places to learn how to surf in the world. Our Iguana Surf Shop is located directly in front of the main beach break – how convenient!
Iguana Surf is Tamarindo’s original surf shop, which has been in operation since 1989. We offer lessons for beginners to advanced surfers. And with over 125,000 beginner surfer lessons under our belts, we have seen it all! We can accommodate all types of people; young and old, fit or not so fit, Spanish-speaking, English-speaking, and more.
We have received people from all over the world here at Iguana Surf. Typically, our visitors come from North America, so our instructors speak both English and Spanish fluently. We also host a lot of people from Europe and are proud to have several instructors who speak a little French, Portuguese, and German. We strive to make our lessons easy for our surf students because we want to spread our love of surfing and Costa Rica to as many people as possible.
From surfing contests to surfing heroes, surfing is a way of life in Costa Rica. Come and discover the Costa Rica surf culture for yourself!
Written by Jennifer LaCharite