If you search online for where the best places to learn to surf are located, you will almost always find Costa Rica on that list. More specifically, if you want to learn to surf in Costa Rica, Tamarindo is the place to be. With ideal conditions for beginners and ample access to proper equipment and instruction, you will be hard-pressed to get out of Tamarindo without learning how to catch a wave!
Where to Learn to Surf in Costa Rica
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. That’s why if you want to try a beginner surf lesson in Costa Rica, Tamarindo Beach is the place to do it! With warm water, light currents, and no rocks to fall on, there are many reasons that Tamarindo is the best place to learn to surf in Costa Rica. In fact, Tamarindo is ranked amongst the top 10 best places to learn how to surf in the world.
Iguana Surf is located directly in front of the main beach break in Tamarindo, which is the best break for new and learning surfers to try out their new skill set thanks to easy-to-manage waves and a soft sandy bottom. Operating since 1989, Iguana Surf has taught over 125,000 beginner surf lessons. Our ideal location and experience make us the top place to learn to surf in Tamarindo. We offer Tamarindo surf lessons to beginners all the way up to advanced.
While the main Tamarindo break is perfect for beginners, there is also the Capitán Suizo break, which is located on the far south side of Tamarindo bay. Capitán Suizo is enjoyed by beginners and, on the right days, advanced surfers alike. While waves here are unthreatening there are a few rocks to watch out for, however, it breaks in pretty deep water the whole way through so encounters with the rocks are rare. Located just south of Tamarindo Beach, Playa Avellanas is another great beach break for those beginner surfers who have become comfortable with the main Tamarindo surf. In fact, a trip here is often included in Iguana Surf’s Costa Rica surf camp packages. Avellanas does have a bit of a split personality though, so breaks here are only for beginners on calm days. Even then it’s best to stick to the south side of the beach near the public parking lot.
What You Need to Learn to Surf
It goes without saying that surfers need to be in relatively good shape to learn the sport. After all, if you can’t get from a prone to an upright position relatively fast, you won’t be able to take off on a wave and ride it in a standing position. That being said, the first and most important thing you need to learn to surf is a good attitude! Surfing takes time and patience, but with a positive attitude, almost anyone can learn how to surf. Like anything else, surfing takes practice to learn. You won’t become a great surfer after one lesson, you will just learn the basics, and hopefully a shot at standing up on your board and riding a wave. If not, don’t get discouraged. Many first-time surfers aren’t riding waves after one lesson. It can take between two and 20 hours of practice for a beginner to learn how to ride a wave, on average.
We always recommend at least six lessons, or one week’s worth of surfing instruction, for those really looking to learn how to surf in Costa Rica. You will come away with some real surfing skills in our seven-night surf camp or week-long stellar packages. In that amount of time, you learn not only how to surf (the correct techniques and safety measures) but you can learn how to wax a board, install a fin, and read the wave and wind direction.
There are also three-day, four-day, five-day, and six-day surf camp packages available. All packages include daily private surf lessons, a surf video analysis to help you learn what mistakes you are making and what you are doing right, unlimited board rentals during your stay, and a photo package to remember it all!
There are also regular surf lessons available for those who are visiting Tamarindo but don’t want to stay at the surf camp.
There are three options for surf lessons at Iguana Surf:
Group lessons: Group surf lessons are perfect for first-time surfers that may be traveling solo or prefer to be in a group environment to learn with other beginners. With a focus on safety, we maintain a low student to instructor ratio of a maximum of four students to one instructor, which means a lot more personal attention for each student. Your Tamarindo group surf lesson begins with a 20-minute instruction on the beach focusing on safety, etiquette in the water, and the basics of surfing. As soon as you get the hang of it, it’s time to get wet. Our instructors will be with you the entire time offering pointers and tips to get you riding your first wave before you know it!
Semi-private lessons: These lessons are perfect if you are traveling with friends or family members and you would prefer to have a lesson with just you and your crew. Semi-private lessons offer more flexibility than group lessons, since it is just your group, you can decide which time you would prefer to have your lesson. This choice is a great way to create your own custom surf lesson with you and your buddies!
Private lessons: Whether it is your first time surfing and you would prefer the extra one-on-one attention or you have already surfed before, Tamarindo private surf lessons are perfect for those looking to have a surfing experience customized to their individual skill level. 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 just for you!
What You Need to Practice to Learn to Surf
In our beginner surf lesson, the instructor will teach the basics of how to paddle correctly, pop up, positioning on the board, correct stance, and reading the waves. The instructor will have you practice on your boards on the beach just to get the overall feel before hitting the water. This is a very important step and the more you practice these things before getting in the water, the better prepared you will be for the waves.
Obviously, what you need to practice will differ depending on your surfing skill level, but for beginners, practicing the correct form for lying down on the board, standing on the board (how to balance), and popping up is essential. As you improve, you will learn and practice more advanced techniques like reading the wave, reading wind directions, and turning.
If you want to learn to surf in Costa Rica, coming to Tamarindo is a good first step. Just be sure to bring a good attitude and a lot of patience to your beginner surf lesson and you’ll be having fun and riding waves in no time!
By Jennifer LaCharite