At this point, it is no secret that Costa Rica has some world-class waves. It is a surfers’ paradise for both beginners and pros alike, with hidden gems along both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. However, for those who have never visited this little slice of heaven or don’t know much about the geography and different spots, the best breaks can be tricky to find. That is why we have put together a little guide of the best places to learn how to surf – starting on our personal favorite coast, the Pacific. Some of the most well-known and most beautiful beaches on this side happen to be perfect for people who are learning how to surf. So here is a guide to the best surf destinations for beginners so that you can start planning where to surf in Costa Rica!
Tamarindo, located just a couple of hours from the border with Nicaragua on the little peninsula of the northern Pacific coastline of Costa Rica, is one of the most popular and lively surf towns. It is home to bustling streets, lots of restaurants, plenty of nightlife, and of course, a nice beginner wave. It is a lovely, long, sandy beach. There are no rocks or strong currents about and the waves are usually small and great for people just learning how to surf. December and January are the best months for beginners, as that is when the waves are the smallest, but you can surf all year round! To get started, head to Iguana Surf, located right across the street from the beach and right in front of the break where everyone surfs. It is the perfect place to get your surfing journey started. When you are not surfing, be sure to check out some of the other exciting activities offered in the area. There are boat cruises, zip-lining, snorkeling, and lots more. And of course, just strolling down the main street in town you will find plenty of fun places to eat, shops, and bars. You will certainly have an unforgettable time in this little paradise and leave with new surfing skills to boot!
- Playa Avellanas
Heading south from Tamarindo, one of the first beaches you will find is Playa Avellanas. Many would say that this is the next step after one feels comfortable on the smaller waves at Playa Tamarindo, but you could head here first as well. Avellanas is a perfect spot for all levels of surfers, and along the beach, there are many different choices of where to surf depending on the tide, swell, and your skills. Some parts are rockier, and there is also a beach break that is fun when the tide is too high for some of the more regular spots. The waves at Avellanas are fun and consistent, and just about 25 minutes south of Tamarindo so you could easily try out both in the same day, or make it an easy day trip! Stay for lunch or dinner too as there is a nice restaurant called Lola’s located right on the beach. It is named after Lola, a huge pet pig that they have there who you can go say hi to after your meal!
- Playa Guiones
Heading still further south on the peninsula you will find the quaint little town of Nosara, filled with surfers, yogis, and a relaxing vibe. Playa Guiones is the main beach here, which although it can get big at times when it is small it is perfect for learning how to surf. It is another long beach break with a sandy bottom, so there are no real safety concerns. It is located just about two hours south of Tamarindo and although the road is a bit bumpy in places, it is a beautiful drive. The town itself is on the quieter side, which makes it the perfect place to go to really relax a bit. It is also a very health-oriented place, with plenty of yoga and good food. So when you aren’t surfing, you can take advantage of the laid back vibe and surely meet some amazing people along the way! There is also plenty of room out in the water, so this spot is never too crowded! Truly some of the best surf in Costa Rica.
- Playa Santa Teresa
A bit further down the coast (about 4 hours from Tamarindo) right on the point of the peninsula, you will find the quaint little town of Santa Teresa. It is also a bit smaller and quieter, and is nicely situated where the jungle meets the beach. There is one long main road, filled to the brim with surf shops and cute, hip spots to eat or get a coffee. The beach is also nice and long and sandy, with crystal blue water. The waves here are a little bigger than they are further north, but there are still places that offer surf lessons and rentals for all levels. If you are looking for a quiet town with lots of access to nature nearby, then Santa Teresa is a great Costa Rica surf destination.
Santa Rica is unique in that the town feels like it is really in the jungle. A day trip to Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, just 5km away from town, is a great way to see some of this area’s incredible wildlife. As the country’s first protected area, the park encompasses a huge mixed forest spilled with 150 different species of birds. Take a stroll on one of the many nice forest trails and end the day at the beach for an incredible sunset. Does it get better than that? There is also diving, yoga, and forest trails to explore when you aren’t surfing that are hard to beat!
- Playa Hermosa
On the central coast of Costa Rica, one of the best spots for learning how to surf is called Playa Hermosa. Hermosa means beautiful in Spanish, and the town and beach definitely both live up to the name. Playa Hermosa is located on the Central Pacific coastline, about 3km from a big surf town called Jaco. Jaco has more intermediate and advanced waves, but Playa Hermosa is great for beginners. This is a good area to go to if you are with a group of friends of different abilities because the beginner surfers can go to Playa Hermosa while the more advanced surfers could surf in Jaco.
Playa Hermosa is also just a beautiful spot to hang out and spend the day; it is a very long beach with grey sand. There are plenty of different peaks so you can usually find a nice spot all to yourself to surf! The town itself is small and relaxed, and if you want a little more action you can just head to Jaco for more people and more nightlife. Jaco is also known as a gateway to national parks, so there is a lot of beautiful nature and waterfalls around to enjoy as well. You certainly won’t get bored here!
Continuing on down the Central Pacific Coast in the town of Manuel Antonio is a nice little spot called Playitas. The water tends to not be too crowded, and the people you might encounter are usually friendly locals. The beach is beautiful white sand and it is surrounded by rainforest. Manuel Antonio is a beautiful town and there is a lot to do as far as exploring nature goes. This area is best known for Manuel Antonio National Park, so you will find tons of gorgeous scenery, lush jungle, nice waterfalls, and lots of wildlife.
There are also often things like festivals and different events in this area that are worth checking out. The best beginner waves are March – October, but the other months are just as fun! Playitas is an ideal destination for avid surfers and those who want to get a taste of the jungle and Costa Rica’s life all at once.
There are almost too many choices for perfect beginner beaches to surf in Costa Rica. The Pacific Coastline, especially right in the middle section from Tamarindo down to Manuel Antonio, is the sweet spot for awesome little waves. The good news is, you can’t make a bad choice! And if you have the chance to rent a car to drive around and try them all, definitely do it. On the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, you will be able to experience amazing scenery, diverse and authentic Costa Rica culture, and surf some of the best waves in the world. There is a reason that Costa Rica has been attracting surfers of all abilities for years and years, and as a beginner surfer, there is no better place to start getting comfortable in the water!
Contact us for more information on your next surf trip in Costa Rica!