Best Surf Towns Costa Rica
Costa Rica is located on the isthmus of Central America which connects North and South America. It has the Pacific Ocean on its left and the Caribbean Sea on its right which means it has many miles of coastline. It is an amazing country with so much to offer.
This charming country has great beaches for surfing, amazing lush jungles, and a beautiful landscape. With so much to offer it is hard to narrow down your trip here. That is why I thought I would put together a list of the best surf towns in Costa Rica. This list was compiled over living there for 6 years.
These are my favorite places to visit when I am looking for a laid-back beachy surf town. A combination of great waves and great town vibes.
5 Best Costa Rica Surf Towns
Located in the province of Guanacaste, Tamarindo is a popular surf spot because the waves are generally consistent year-round.
It is the perfect surf town that mixes nightlife with ridable waves. Which is the main reason why I ended up here for 6 years.
The most popular time to visit this area is in the months of January through April when the weather is completely bone dry and the rest of North America is freezing cold.
It’s very hot and dry during these months. It can even be in the 90s Fahrenheit. So if you are looking to freshen up your winter tan, this is the perfect place to do so.
If you like winter and don’t want a summer escape, you can also visit in the wet season from May- December. This time of year is my favorite. It is not as hot, everything is green and you usually get an afternoon rain shower.
They normally only last an hour, which makes them the perfect time to take a nice vacation siesta.
Tamarindo is a nice long stretch of beach. So it is easy to find your own section and be secluded, or you can choose to rent a beach chair and have rum and coconuts brought to you.
Tamarindo is a great place for all surfing levels since there are many surf breaks all within walking distance.
If you aren’t a surfer, don’t fret. Tamarindo is the perfect spot to learn. You will almost always see surfing lessons going on here.
It’s a popular and laid-back surf town. There are a lot of other water sports being offered along the beach as well.
These include scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and various boat ride options.
Looking for more ideas of what to do here?
Located in the province of Puntarenas which is another very popular surfing location, Dominical is a great place to check out. It is a lot like Tamarindo but on a much smaller scale.
It’s on the Pacific Ocean side of Costa Rica and a popular surfing destination. One of the best surf towns in Costa Rica.
The beach town is known for its large waves that are consistent year-round so you can’t go wrong with a visit to Dominical any time of year.
Dominical Beach is located near the mouth of a river which is also where you’ll find the best waves, and hopefully, even barrels. I don’t recommend trying to surf this wave if you are just getting started.
Dominicalito Beach nearby is a better spot for beginners. The waves are smaller and slower. Beginners or those looking for new skills can also take surfing lessons on easier beaches nearby.
The best time to visit, of course, is in the dry months from December to April when rain is not expected and the temperature is warm. It does tend to rain more in the southern parts of Costa Rica, not just your 1 hour afternoon shower.
Dominical is a popular beach town because of the great surf waves but also because it has a charming and small-town vibe.
It’s not the best place for swimming or snorkeling due to the strength of the waves so keep that in mind if you’re traveling with non-surfers.
It is a great place to check out while on your vacation in Costa Rica.
3. Santa Teresa
Also located in the province of Puntarenas, Santa Teresa is another great place for surfing. It’s located on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula which is a very different area compared to the rest of the country and has more greenery, rivers, and hills.
The location is not as touristy as other parts of the country. This is mainly just due to not being able to access or get there easily.
However, its popularity comes from avid surfers, digital nomads, and ex-pats who enjoy the area.
It’s now a bustling little town but more remote than the rest of the country. Great for travelers who don’t like seeing loads of tourists.
The best time to visit for good weather is in the dry months but because it has some great greenery, it’s very beautiful in the wet months when everything is the healthiest and most luscious.
The waves here are great for surfers but they can be strong so it’s not the best area for swimming or snorkeling on the main shoreline.
There are, however, some inlets of water off the coast that are better for swimming. The reason surfers love this area is because the waves are very consistent and hollow.
The area isn’t too crowded so surfers can really take advantage of the space and not having to battle for waves.
Because the waves are strong, it’s a better area for intermediate and advanced surfers. The beach is long and wide. Santa Teresa is not one of the best surf towns in Costa Rica it is also one of the best beach towns in Costa Rica.
4. Playa Hermosa
Another awesome surf town located in the Puntarenas province of Costa Rica is Playa Hermosa. (There is also a Playa Hermosa located in Guanacaste so make sure not to confuse the two.)
Playa Hermosa is a surfers paradise.
Every August it hosts Quicksilver’s International Surf Championships where people from all over the world come to compete for the title or watch the event take place.
It’s a great time to visit if you want to be among some of the best surfers in the world but it’s also a busy time for the town.
The rest of the year, Playa Hermosa is pretty quiet and not a very touristy place except for when surfers visit.
The best surfing spot in Playa Hermosa is in front of the famous tree called “El Almendro” where the best break of the wave happens.
The waves are known to be very consistent and they can reach as high as 13 feet so this part of the coast is better for expert surfers.
Novice surfers and swimmers are encouraged to visit the town of Jacó nearby for lessons or just to practice where the waves are smaller.
Nosara is on the Nicoya Peninsula in the province of Guanacaste. The town is relatively small and not riddled with tourists.
This is great for surfers who visit because they’ll have a lot of ocean space to themselves.
Nosara is a great chilled place to visit and enjoy some surf and yoga.
This area is great for all types of surfers including beginners because the breaks aren’t as strong as they can be in other places.
Playa Guiones is the most popular beach in Nosara for surfing.
It has a mix of wave breaks including whitewater waves for beginners and swells up to 14 feet for advanced surfers.
During both high and low tide, you can find some good waves. There are various surfing schools where you can take lessons and become one with the ocean.
It’s a great town to visit during your future surfing adventure in Costa Rica.
If you plan on visiting Nosara you will most likely want to rent a car, since it is spread out and not easy to walk around.
When is the Best Time to Surf in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a large span of coastline that covers the left and right sides of the country. Only the top and bottom of Costa Rica touches land. So it is not an island.
Do not refer to Costa Rica as an island, because it is not one.
Costa Rica is not wide but rather has a long and narrow shape. This creates ample opportunity to find great waves along the coast.
The Pacific Ocean side has 630 miles of coast and the Caribbean Sea side has 130 miles of coastline.
Usually, the best time to visit Costa Rica is in the dry months of December through April. The rest of the year is considered wet season and it could potentially rain every day, depending on where you are.
I love the rainy season in Guanacaste, other places it does tend to rain more often so beware of this when planning your holiday.
On the Pacific side, June through September generally have the best waves while on the Caribbean Coast, October to April have the better surfing conditions.
These differences are due to swells but Costa Rica waves are highly consistent so you can’t go wrong any time of year.
If you’ll be visiting during the wet season, you may find a lull in rain showers in the months of June and July so this would be the second-best time to visit Costa Rica.
Keep in mind that showers usually happen in the afternoons. So if you are afraid of getting wet when you surf lols, it is better to go in the morning. Usually, winds do tend to be better in the mornings, and you can avoid more crowds as well.
Get up early and surf.
Costa Rica has pretty consistent temperatures and it rarely ever goes below 70 °F or 20 °C. The average temperature in the dry season is in the high 70s or low 80s Fahrenheit and mid to high 20s Celsius.
In the wet season, the average temperature is mid-70s Fahrenheit or mid-20s Celsius.
The waves are pretty consistent year-round which is a very attractive thing about surfing in Costa Rica.
Consistent waves and warm water, what more could you ask for.
Which side of Costa Rica has better surfing
On the left side of Costa Rica is the Pacific Ocean and on the right is the Caribbean Sea and often the question asked is what side has better surfing conditions.
A lot like how people debate which side of the road you should drive on.
The Pacific Ocean of course is the winner and not just because that is where I lived. It has better waves for surfing because they are consistent and have some great breaks.
The Pacific side is more established. The surf towns are better. Even if you don’t surf you will want to stay in a surf town.
They have great accommodations to stay in, bars, restaurants, and surfing schools that teach lessons.
It might be a bit more touristy than the Caribbean Sea side but most of the surfing towns aren’t large tourist attractions and are mostly popular among surfers.
There are great beaches all along the Pacific coast which makes it easy to hop around to various places and try out different waves.
The Caribbean Side is a lot more untouched and there are fewer tourists but the best surfing spots are more of a mystery here and you may need to try out some different beaches to find the best waves.
Costa Rica is a beautiful country with such a vast landscape and an amazing coastline.
It’s a great place for surfers from all over the world to visit and try out some of the famed waves that this country offers.
You can expect pretty consistent and strong waves in the warm turquoise water to get you in the surfing spirit.
The best time to visit for surfing is during the dry months and the best area is on the Pacific Coast side of Costa Rica but you really can’t go wrong with a trip to this beautiful country.
You will be happy you visited and you will love any of the best surf towns in Costa Rica you decide to visit.